Manual vs Automatic – Which One is Best For Me

Many petrolheads are traditionalists and will tell you manual is the only way to go. However, with automatic becoming increasingly more popular, more and more people are ditching the clutch and not going back. Of course there are mutant variations such as CVTs and automated clutches that do provide a happy medium, but for this guide will stick to traditional manuals and automatics. Both transmissions have their perks depending on your style of driving, which we’ll look into below in order to locate the best transmission for you.

The Budget Buyer

Best Option: Manual

When choosing to buy manual or automatic, manual cars are almost always cheaper to purchase. Go to any number of used car dealerships and you’ll find this to be the case. This is partly because buying old is cheaper (and most older models are manual), but also because autos cost more to produce due to their mechanical complexity. Generally, their engines are also more costly to fix when anything goes wrong. Therefore, if you’re buying on a budget, manual is your best bet.

The Economist

Best Option: Automatic

A debate for the ages, drivers have long argued over whether manual or automatic is more fuel-friendly. Until recently, a more careful driver with a stick-shift might have been able to outdo an auto with ninja gear-shifting precision. However, automatic cars have now become so advanced at smoothly shifting gears that they are undoubtedly more economical – something to consider if you’re a green driver, although the ultra-green drivers out there will probably just choose an electric car anyway.

The Leisure Driver

Best Option: Manual

For those that love the control of racing up gears, who enjoy the thrill of driving and enjoy a good roadtrip for the journey as much as the sights, then nothing can compare to a manual drive. Automatics can take the feel out of driving and make longer trips more robotic and boring to some, essentially rendering all styles of driving – cruising through the city to tackling country bends – to two pedals, brakes and acceleration. Manual can help you feel more at one with the car, feeling each strain of the engine as if it were an extension of your body.  

The Convenience Driver

Best Option: Automatic

If driving is something that just gets you from A to B and more of convenience that a leisure pursuit, then automatic is clearly your calling. For urban commuters constantly caught up in uphill traffic jams, the luxury of not having a clutch is sure to make your left foot happy. They can also make long-distance trips a lot more easy and relaxed, allowing you to speed up and slow down with ease. Driving an automatic is much simpler and easier on the ankles and if you’re a learner or an older driver struggling with manual, this option is certain to reinstall your confidence by getting rid of that horrible stick and third pedal.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.