Is there a link by which I can open the old Google Contact Manager (the one with 3 columns layout)? It allowed instant search and the ability to view contact details on the same page.
At the bottom of the screen is a link to "older version", which points to https://www.google.com/contacts_v1
So, the old version is still around, at least for a little while.
I would expect that there may be some incompatibilities with the new contact manager (some fields not supported for instance; Google+ Circles are definitely not there) and that they may finally kill it altogether. (They've done similar things with other products.)