Yea, it is. This is pet peeve of all the manual CTS owners. I've gotten used to it and it isn't much of a deal anymore. Everything else about the car is amazing and this one flaw shouldn't discourage you from owning a CTS.
like mbai said, i really hated the foot brake for about the first month. after that i just got used to it and it doesn't bother me any more. one of the things that i still dislike is when i let another person drive it, the release is right next to the hood release. yet another pet peave. a few of us go on about this in the what i hate about the cts thread, but i still would rather have the cts than any other car.
I'd hardly let the parking brake stop you from getting a manual trans. It ranks right up there with 'the glovebox is too small' and 'the key fob is boring'. The overall gearing on the manual trans cars is more agressive than the auto, hence they accelerate like a batouttahell, if of course want to push the car. There's nothing wrong with the auto, but if you buy an '03 with the 3.2L you may be disappointed if you later drive a 3.6L. There are a lot more 3.2L manual trans cars out there, than 3.6L ones right now, but they still make up <10% of CTS's.
Like buying any car, I'd test drive them all before you decide.
I agree with ody in the fact that the manual trans is the way to go. I drove both the auto and the man before i bought the man. the gear box is so smooth in the manual that it is one of the funnest and easiest manual trans cars that i have ever driven.
Unless you make J-turns twice a day on your commute, don't let the foot operated parking brake turn you off of the 6sp. As others have said, it is one of the better gear boxes in the class. I would put it just behind the Acura TL in terms of precision feel.
The clutch is perfect.
My Ranger, my previous car (had it 14 years) and my CTS all have manual transmissions and foot parking brakes. It never made that much of a difference.
I agree with Odysseus, test drive the stick. I owned the 3.2 5sp and upgraded to the 3.6 6sp. FUN to drive :excited: . If you like to drive stick, match the 3.6 to the manual and see what those 255 ponies will do for you. You do get used to the floor brake, and it is a pain at first, you will pop the hood a couple of times (as will the valet parkers) but it is worth it in the long run.