Chances are, that if you learnt to drive in the UK, you will have been driving a manual transmission. But with automatic cars becoming seemingly more and more popular, we’ve got to ask you – to shift, or not to shift: that is the question?
Many people out there will always prefer the ability to drive the way they want to – with complete control of their car and its gears. But, equally, there are those of you who want the easiest driving experience possible.
Whatever your preference, we will take you through whether an automatic or manual transmission is right for you.
What does a ‘Manual Transmission’ mean?
This is fairly simple to explain – does your car have a gear stick in the middle? If your answer is yes, then, chances are, you are driving a manual car.
By simply pressing down on your clutch, you can switch into the gear most appropriate for your current speed.
Lower gears will offer you much more torque (Let us think of torque, as your pulling power – not your illustrious charm, but instead how quick your car can get off the line), but a lot less speed.
Higher gears will give you much more speed, but significantly less torque – just think how difficult it is to start your car in third gear.
Typically, a manual car has somewhere between 5 to 6 gears (otherwise known as ‘speeds’) –it’s not an exact science, but it’s highly likely that you will use gears 1 – 3 driving around town, but gears 5 – 6 on the motorways. Of course, you can choose to drive at 70mph on the motorway in 3rd gear, but we really don’t recommend it.
But it’s this ability to control torque and speed which purists out there love. You have all of the power (literally).
What does an ‘Automatic Transmission’ mean?
Everything making sense for far? Good.
The best example we can think of, to explain what an automatic feels similar to, is a go-kart.
All you need to do is control the speed and brakes.
It’s almost as simple as that.
Although, there are clearly a few fundamental differences between go-karts and the modern day automatic cars we have on our roads. For starters, you have a roof and aren’t completely frozen – thanks heated seats.
But the biggest difference, by far, is the gears. Just like your manual car, an automatic is built around using gears to propel your car forward.
Although, instead of you pressing your foot down on the clutch and switching gears to go round a corner, come to a stop, or start your car – an automatic engine will do this for you.
Should I buy an Automatic or Manual?
We can’t tell you which one is better. Not because we are trying to deceive you (or legal reasons), but because it’s a personal decision you need to make.
But what we can do is show you the benefits of each transmission type and see whether they are right for you:
- Manual cars are the norm for drivers who have recently passed their driving test, and for many other UK road users. They are often cheaper than automatic cars, can be more fuel efficient (if you drive correctly), and can improve your acceleration.
It’s also important that, if you are a new driver, you develop your driving skills – if you decide to go automatic early-on after you have passed your test, you may not feel comfortable down the line, if you were ever in a situation where you needed to drive a manual.
- Automatic cars are inherently easier to drive, they free up your hands and allow you to go ahead, doing the things you love – driving of course. This will also allow you to remain safe on the road and focus on key aspects, like speed, and road position. On top of this, they are sometimes more reliable than their manual counterparts, so less expenses on parts and labour.
Although, if you are used to a manual car, and decide to switch to an automatic, you will have to learn how to drive the car – it won’t take long, but not pressing the clutch every time you want to gear change is instinctive, so it may be habit that takes a little longer to kick.
Anybody who has driven an automatic will understand this…
Which is the best option for me?
Again, it’s hard to tell which type is best for you – it’s not an exact science unfortunately.
But, we can show you whether you would be well-suited for a manual or automatic, to the best of our abilities.
So, as we have talked about, automatic cars are notoriously easier to drive – there is much less to do with your hands and feet, meaning that you are able to focus solely on the road ahead. If you drive long distances, are a nervous driver, or prone to the occasional leg cramp, then automatic cars may offer you the comfort you seek.
But, as I’m sure many petrol heads out there will agree, the ride in an automatic can be a lot more (for lack of a better term) boring. They require little effort and don’t give you the control, that some crave. So, if you are someone who loves to drive, has a very small daily commute, or just are stuck in your traditional ways – then a manual may be the one for you.
As we have previously mentioned – let’s not forget about all the learner drivers out there.
Once you have passed your test, you begin your journey to freedom, and continually learn how to drive in your own unique way. You will pick up certain habits and soon become a safer, more experienced driver. But, if you fail to gain this knowledge before you make the switch to automatic, you may be hurting your chances of getting behind the wheel of a manual in the future.
Therefore, we recommend those drivers who have recently passed, stick to a manual car, until they see fit to change into an automatic.
Driving can be fun, it can be exhilarating, but it can also be very tiring and tedious.
We have explained the differences between both Automatic and Manual transmissions, to help give you some key insight into choosing which one is correct for you.
As we have said – it’s not an exact science, it’s what you are comfortable driving. So, whichever decision you make, make it for the right reasons.