Is An Automatic Really Better Than A Manual?

If you go to America, they will look at you strangely if, at the rental, you ask to drive a manual car. It seems that in most places now, manual, or “stick shift,” is being phased out. Even in Britain, there are more automatics being sold now, but does this mean automatic is actually better? Let’s find out.

The Running Cost

Even when you first took out for an automatic, the cost is going to be a little bit more. In Britain, you’re looking at an extra £1,000 on top (at least) for an automatic version of the same model. When you see a car like the Nissan Micra for sale and you weigh up the manual versus the automatic, if you are looking at saving some money, the manual will always win! The cost of petrol is always going to be more in an automatic, but with every new model, the manufacturers of trying to even out this problem. For example, the fuel economy of the BMW 320i Saloon is 53 miles per gallon in a manual, but the automatic is just 52 mpg! So there’s not much difference, and the cost of the car would fall into the same tax bracket as a result.


The manual aspect of driving is preferred by lots of people, because they feel that they are in control of the car. With an automatic, depending on the age of them, you can get a feeling of being held to ransom a little bit by the automatic gear changes in the vehicle. As a result, the control you feel that you should have on with the vehicle isn’t actually there. Although, this is improving more with every passing year when it comes to the automatic model.

The Driver

This is a big factor. Depending on whether you are driving in the city, or if you’re going to be going in stop-start traffic all too regularly, or if you are out in the countryside, will affect whether it’s better for you to purchase an automatic or not. Some people feel comfortable in an automatic because of its simplistic nature. Essentially, it’s like driving a go-kart, you put your foot down and off you go! However, long journeys, such as on motorways of freeways, can be frustrating because of the automatic gear changes. You can easily end up revving a lot, but if you are in city traffic, where everything moves very slowly, an automatic is a perfect choice.

Manual Or Automatic?

If you can’t afford the initial costs upfront, than a manual is always going to be your best choice. But with a manual transmission, the actual activity of driving can be more stressful, especially if you are someone who needs to think about changing gears. But, the fuel economy is far better in a manual for the most part, but if you can afford to get a more up-to-date model, then an automatic is going to make life a lot easier for you.

While some people turn their noses up at an automatic, it’s definitely a way for more people to get on the road and to drive with a bit more confidence.

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About Sean Mackay

Sean writes about cars, golf and events going on in British Columbia, Canada. He is also the editor for The Automotive Review - an automotive publication bringing a West Coast flavour to its editorials.
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