Manual or Automatic?

As automatic transmission cars become ever more popular, this question may come up when you come to buy your next motor. “Should I get a manual or an automatic?!” There will obviously be fans of each type in their respective corners, but what about the practicalities? We are going to discuss a few of the everyday points that will affect your owning an automatic over a manual.

Most of us will have started out driving a manual, but in today’s market automatics are everywhere, and with some manufacturers you will notice the automatic options outnumber the manual ones – Yes, we are looking at you Audi and Mercedes!

One of the obvious advantages of an automatic car is that they are easier to drive – once you have gotten used to the nuances, such as creeping in traffic, parking etc. On a bendy, country lane in a manual you will be changing gear frequently, having to press the clutch down to change gear, matching the engine speed with your revs with the accelerator and then you have got the steering to consider. In an automatic you have got two pedals – go and stop. Just concentrate on your cornering and let the car deal with the job of changing gears.  Plus this, and we don’t wish to cast aspersion on your driving abilities here, the gear changes will be smoother.  Combine the best gearboxes with a quiet car and it will be difficult to hear/feel when gears are being changed at all.

Sounds appealing doesn’t it? Although it is a slight surrender of total driving control, the automatic transmission will allow you to focus on your driving a bit more. Also with advancements in automotive computer technology in recent years the automatic boxes will respond to an aggressive driving style very differently to a relaxed one – making your driving a bit more exciting when you want to catch butterflies as opposed to doing the shopping or being on the school run.

So what are the downsides? Well it used to be the case that automatic transmission cars suffered worse acceleration than their manual counterparts, but this is so minimal today that it is barely noticeable. Who really measures their 0-60 times these days anyway – in everyday driving you will most likely notice the automatic transmission being quicker anyway, given the reduced shifting time between gears.

What about economy? Again, in the past (up to the early 2000s) automatic cars suffered worse economy, achieving significantly worse miles per gallon. However, advancements in automatic transmission technologies have seen this gap close almost completely. In the majority of entry and mid level cars the difference will be low single figures, 3 or 4mpg, and in reality this will be dictated by your driving style.

So economy is no longer a disadvantage, neither is performance… they make driving easier… where are the downsides? Surely your next car will be an automatic? Well, if it is there is one point worth factoring in – Automatic cars are technologically advanced, compared to their manual brothers so you can (in general) apply a fairly sizeable price increase.  In the standard family car range (Fords, Vauxhall, Volkswagen etc) you will be looking at a premium north of £1,500. In some of the middle executive saloons from Audi and Mercedes this premium will rise to closer to £2,500. Worth it if you want the smoother ride, the easier going drive, but still a big chunk of cash to consider.

Automatics do not reduce the beauty of a car’s interior

Of course, the driving purists will always prefer the manual transmissions with its rewarding feel when you get things right. For the majority of drivers though, automatic transmissions seem to make a lot more sense now than they did even ten years ago.

A1 Clutches are experts at servicing, repairing and replacing manual and semi-automatic clutch transmissions. So if you drive a manual or a semi-automatic, give us a call if you need us and we will be happy to help. Please note that like many garages we do not currently offer repair or replacement of automatic gearboxes – This could also be another factor when deciding on your next car!