Manual Or Automatic - Choosing The Right Transmission For Your Car

29 October 2021 Blog

When shopping for a new car, most of us just stick with what we know. Those who have always driven manual cars are likely to stay loyal to the gearstick, while those who have made the switch to automatics would be hard-pressed to revert back to the days of clutches and bite points.

The only circumstances when car buyers have to stick to a specific type of gearbox is if they’re in the market for an electric car (they are only available as an automatic) or they have an automatic-only driver’s license.

For everyone else, manual vs automatic is often a secondary consideration.

However, depending on your driving habits and preferences, you could really benefit from considering what the perfect gearbox for your next car is.

We explore how manual and automatic cars compare, to help you make an informed decision.


Manual Transmissions

Manual cars are still the most common cars found on UK roads, although automatics are catching up. More than half of cars sold in the UK every year are manual, and they remain hugely popular with drivers of all ages and experience.

Most modern manual transmission cars come with five or six speeds – giving the driver complete control over their acceleration and braking. Many drivers have driven manual transmission cars for years, and enjoy the act of changing gear and being in full control of how the car performs out on the road.


Benefits Of Manual Cars

One of the main benefits of manual cars is that they tend to be cheaper than automatics. Loads of cars are now available with both manual and automatic transmissions, and the latter tends to drive the price a little higher even if the rest of the spec is exactly the same.

It’s not just the initial outlay which makes manuals affordable. In the long run, a manual may work out cheaper to maintain than an automatic, simply because they don’t have as many complicated moving parts.

Although mastering things like clutch control and hill starts can be a steep learning curve, there’s definitely some reward in getting to grips with a manual car. The added control of being in charge of the gears can help with safety and performance in certain situations, like when you’re driving down a steep hill or negotiating an icy road.

Manual cars are also among the most fuel-efficient. That’s because they’re generally much lighter than automatics, and free from components like a hydraulic pump and torque converter, which can add weight and reduce MPG.


Automatic Transmissions

Opposed to manuals, most automatics don’t have different speed gears. Instead, they have four driving options: Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive:

  • In Park, the transmission is locked at a low speed to aid parking and positioning.
  • In Reverse, the car will accelerate backwards.
  • In Neutral, the car can’t accelerate forwards or backwards.
  • In Drive, the car will accelerate forward, automatically moving through the gears.

Automatic transmissions are rapidly catching up with manuals and will probably overtake them in the next few years. What was once seen as a luxury feature for UK cars, automatics are becoming more affordable and more commonplace.

What’s more, the expected rise of the electric car means that automatics could soon significantly overshadow manuals on the forecourts and roads of Britain. Electric cars are fitted with an automatic gearbox, and the government move to ban the production of petrol and diesel cars within the next two decades could see manuals start to decline.

This could be good news for new drivers, as automatic transmissions are easy to master. Less coordination between hand and foot is required, while removing the clutch means you can skip the dreaded hill starts! This frees lessons up to concentrate on speed control, road position, hazard awareness and all those other vital skills required to pass the driving test.

Because automatic cars automate many aspects of driving, they’re less susceptible to driver error. There’s no more forcing the car up a hill in the wrong gear, which puts the engine and drivetrain under extra stress. As previously mentioned, automatics tend to be pricier than their manual counterparts to buy, maintain and run – however, that gap is closing.

Remember, though, that if you learn to drive in an automatic, you’ll have to take an additional test if you want to make the switch to a manual at any point in the future (or if you’re renting a car here or on holiday). This is why the majority of people learn in a manual, so they have the full choice of cars in the future.


Browse Our Great Choice Of Manual & Automatic Cars

We have a large choice of manual and automatic nearly new cars available at unbeatable prices. All our cars are still under warranty as well, so peace of mind comes as standard.

If you’re still undecided as to whether a manual or automatic is for you, visit your nearest store and take one out for a test drive