"Manuals are supposed to be as strong if not stronger than an automatic."
Guys, vehicles have changed a lot since we learned the rules of thumb. Used to be a manual transmission was faster, offered better HP torque and towing, and had better fuel mileage. No more.
Basically, they have made machines that just shift better than humans can. That's why sports cars (ex: Ferraris) are now forgoing the manual to actually improve performance.
Here's what's changed:
- Automatics have locking torque converters, or even just automated clutches. The TC is where lots of slop and bad fuel economy lived, so it's going away.
- Automatics are adding more gears. This keeps your engine closer to optimal RPMs.
- Automatics can shift much faster, reducing the times when then engine is doing no work
Of course, in your particular case, it's just that the manual wasn't designed to handle the 800 foot pounds the engine can produce, so they de-tuned the engine. Yes, you can chip it to get the torque back. In fact, there are VERY few vehicles that can get as much out of a chip as you. It's not sorcery to extract more power from an engine that is governed! but, as said, that torque can bust up your tranny if you abuse it.