Manual versus Automatic

Should you buy an automatic or manual car? The choice has existed for decades as automatic gearboxes first became available in the 1960s, although manual cars have dominated for much of that time. Recent advances in technology are starting to change this, with more and more automatic cars now being sold.

One thing that is often said is that manual cars are more fun to drive, and they are more economical. But is this true anymore? Does the fun-to-drive argument even apply to the vast majority of drivers who use their cars primarily for getting the children to school, commuting to work, and going to the shops? For the type of driving that most of us do on a daily basis which type of car is better – one with a manual gearbox, or one with an automatic?

Technology and Fuel Economy

The gearboxes – and the computers that control them – in automatic cars have become incredibly responsive and efficient. It used to be the case that automatic cars were less economical, but the gap between manuals and automatics has narrowed significantly. In fact, many automatic cars are now more economical than their manual counterparts. Plus there is more consistency with an automatic car. With a manual car your fuel economy varies depending on how you change gears, but this is less of an issue with automatic cars.


Lots of deals and offers are available on both types of cars, but broadly speaking automatic cars cost more to buy than manual cars. They are also more expensive to maintain over the life of the car.

On the flip side automatic cars often hold their value better than manual cars. This will mitigate the higher costs that you will incur to purchase and maintain an automatic.

Lower Emissions

As already mentioned automatic cars are now very fuel efficient, and often have better statistics than manual cars. With this fuel efficiency also come low emissions, making automatic cars good for the environment.


There isn’t much difference between the safety of an automatic car and manual car. The only thing that is really noticeable is that you can keep your hands on the steering wheel in an automatic all the time, where you have to use your left hand to change gears in a manual.

Which Is Best To Drive

So, what about the often repeated argument that says that manual cars are more fun to drive. You do have a lot more control when you drive a manual car, but for most people driving is about comfort and safety as well as enjoyment. If you spend a lot of time driving at normal speeds over relatively short distances in morning and evening traffic, changing gears manually can become an annoyance, so an automatic is a sensible choice.

Which Should You Choose?

For many people once they go automatic, they never go back to manual. With the improved performance, efficiency, and economy of automatics, the decision largely comes down to cost, and the question of control versus ease of driving. Most people reading this will probably have spent most of their time driving in manual cars. If this applies to you the best advice is to take an automatic car for a test drive. Drive through an area with lots of traffic lights and roundabouts to see what you think. This is the best way to make a decision.

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