Automatic Vs Manual Cars

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Automatic or Manual? This simple question recurs again and again when it comes to choosing a trim or even a vehicle when searching for a lease deal and it has divided drivers on numerous occasions, sparking countless debates and forum discussions. But which is better?

We’ve broken down automatic and manual cars into their pros and cons and pit them against each other in relation to fuel efficiency, insurance, learning to drive as well as commenting on current and future trends, to help you answer the question and settle the debate once and for all.

What’s the difference between automatic and manual cars?

Before we can dive into the pros and cons of each, we need to cover the fundamental differences between the two.

Automatic

While manuals still dominate the road in numbers, automatics are fast becoming favourite with over a 70% increase in automatic sales since 2007. But what are the pros and cons of automatics?

Advantages

  • Convenience: Driving an automatic is much more convenient than their manual counterparts as all the hard work of changing gears is being done for you. The lack of clutch control makes them much simpler to operate.
  • Experience: Automatic gear changes occur seamlessly and smoothly, providing a comfortable and relaxing driving experience free of any bumpy gear changes that might occur in manual cars.
  • Comfort: Due to their lack of clutch control, automatic cars can be argued to be more comfortable to drive, especially in urban areas and traffic. Constantly pumping the clutch in manual cars can lead to fatigue or discomfort.
  • Safety: Without the need to focus on changing gears, you can be more aware of your surroundings and concentrate on speed and position. You also get to keep both hands on the wheel to be fully in control.
  • Hill starts: Starting from a dead stop on an incline can be challenging for some drivers (especially new drivers) due to the increased chance of stalling. In automatics however, it’s easy. To avoid rolling backwards, use the handbrake instead of the normal brake pedal. When you’re ready to set off, push gently on the accelerator until you feel strain against the handbrake. When this happens, release the handbrake and you should move forward.
  • Learning to drive: Many new drivers are now electing to learn to drive in an automatic rather than a manual in order to simplify driving and increase their chances of driving.
  • Efficiency: new automatics are found to be more fuel efficient than manuals because they change gears more smoothly and usually at a more optimal point in the rev range.
Automatic pedals

Disadvantages

  • Cost: Automatics generally cost more than manuals and as such may or may not coincide with your budget, but you can use our price and gearbox filters to find the cheapest automatic vehicles available to lease.
  • Driving Experience: Many drivers argue that automatics are less engaging to drive since manually changing gears provides a better more intuitive driving experience.
  • Repairs: Automatic transmissions generally have more moving parts than manuals which can lead to higher repair costs and as such, insurance costs.
  • Lack of control: As automatics shift gears by using sensors to determine when to shift, which is handled by the vehicle’s torque converter, they can shift incorrectly or suboptimally by shifting too high. This lack of control can be bothersome for some drivers. For example, when you want to ‘kick-down’ in a manual car to get acceleration, you simply downshift to the desired gear. Whereas to do this in an automatic you need to suddenly floor it to achieve the power.
  • Automatic licence: If you hold an automatic licence you are only able to drive automatic cars and will need a separate manual licence in order to drive manual cars.

Manual

manual gearbox

Sales of manual cars are decreasing year on year, with predictions that automatic sales will overtake the sale of manuals soon enough. However, there are still more than three times the number of automatics on the road, with many drivers still electing for manual over automatic when given the choice. But what are the pros and cons of manuals?

Advantages

  • Control: Since you are in control of the gear changes, you have better control of the vehicle. For example, you can elect to stay at a lower gear for longer for a boost of power or change gears when it’s more optimal to do so.
  • Cost: Manual cars are notably cheaper than their automatic counterparts and when shopping on a budget they can provide you with a greater choice.
  • Experience: Being in control of the gear changes can provide the driver with a greater sense of involvement and enjoyment, leading to an overall better driving experience.
  • Repairs: Since manual transmissions aren’t as complicated as automatic transmission, they can be cheaper to repair and therefore insure.
  • Manual licence: Learning to drive in a manual provides you with a manual licence that allows you to drive either manuals or automatics, without the need to also hold an automatic licence.

Disadvantages

  • Stalling: While it’s still possible to stall an automatic, it is more likely to occur in a manual when the clutch isn’t controlled correctly. Stalling can make driving more irksome and in some cases dangerous.
  • Comfort: Clutch control can be quite taxing on the driver, especially in heavy start-stop situations like rush hour traffic.
  • Choice: Manufacturers are tending more towards automatic vehicles meaning that there may be less new manual cars to choose from. For example, most electric cars currently being produced favour automatic transmission.
  • Resale: As more and more drivers learn with automatic and neglect manual transmissions, it will be harder to sell a manual car.
  • Clutch: Poor driving through missing gears when changing or riding the clutch can wear out the clutch, which is an extra component to repair that won’t impact automatic cars.
  • Learning to drive: While changing gears eventually becomes second nature, it can be a difficult process for young drivers to grasp when learning to drive, making learning to drive in a manual more difficult.
Manual pedals

Which one should I choose?

The rise of automatic car sales would suggest that they will overtake the more common manual vehicles. But how much of this is due to buyer preference and how much is due to changes in manufacturing trends?

Eco-friendly initiatives are having a big impact on manufacturers and with the UK government banning the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid engines in 2035, there has been a massive shift of focus towards electric vehicles which are predominantly automatic. This change in manufacturing trend means that more automatic vehicles are being produced than manuals.

Moreover, due to most automatics now being more fuel efficient than manuals, many manufacturers are now favouring automatics due to their better fuel consumption. This again means that there will be more automatic vehicles to choose from than manuals in the future.

However, the existing and legacy market is primarily manual, meaning for the short-term manual may provide more choice than automatics – especially if you’re on a budget. This is also apparent when you consider vehicle hire and replacement vehicles. Should you need to hire a vehicle, it is likely that manuals will be more available than automatics, meaning if you don’t drive an automatic you may be left without a car should yours be unavailable.

In conclusion, there is a strong case for both manual and automatic and personal preference plays a key role in the ultimate decision to choose one over the other. However, with future trends all pointing towards automatic, manual cars may become more of a collector’s item with a hobbyist industry similar to that of classic cars, rather than a frequent occurrence on the road.

Regardless of whether you’re more of an automatic or manual driver, why not lease a brand-new car with Moneyshake? Compare prices now for special offers on a variety of makes and models.

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