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Manual vs Automatic Gearbox – which is truly better?

When it comes to cars, whether you’re an experienced driver or are just starting out, one of the many questions you’ll want answered is which is better; a manual or automatic gearbox?

The reality is there are pros and cons to both and it entirely depends what your focus is on – so let’s go through some of the pros and cons to each…

What’s better for long car journeys?

Automatic

Many drivers would agree that long car journeys are much easier and less stressful with an automatic. You don’t have to worry about changing gears so your legs are less likely to get tired. But, more than that, it also means if you’re stopping and starting often or find yourself on lots of winding roads, you won’t have to keep changing gear – the automatic will do it all for you. And it will do it smoothly. So you can just sit back and relax.

Which option offers a smoother ride?

Typically, an automatic will offer the best ride. That’s not to say a manual can’t offer a smooth ride, it’s just that you have more to consider in order to make it happen. You have to think about when’s the best time to change gears, whereas with an automatic, it’s all done for you.

Which has a better performance?

Previously you’d likely have been told that manual had a better overall performance but, thanks to advancements in technology, the automatic gearbox has caught up. Nowadays you’ll find that there’s really very little difference in performance.

Manual

Which is more cost-effective?

In the long run, it’s perhaps more cost-effective to get a manual car. The initial cost of an automatic is higher than a manual. Some automatic cars aren’t as fuel-efficient either, partly because they’re designed to do the work of your left foot for you.

What’s going to last longer?

Many will say that a manual car will last longer. Automatic gearboxes can be slightly more complicated and, for some, there are more possibilities for things to go wrong. However, depending on your driving style in a manual, you may find that you need to replace your clutch more often. The advances in technology mean that the chances of things going wrong with an automatic gearbox are the same as a manual.

What’s better for learner drivers?

This very much depends on what you’re looking for. Generally, an automatic is easier. You don’t have to learn about changing gears and how to ‘feel the bite’. Everything is done for you, so it’s one less thing to think about.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you learn in an automatic car, you’ll only ever be able to drive an automatic (unless you re-take your test and learn in a manual). Whereas if you learn to drive in a manual car, you’re free to drive both. So it may open more opportunities for you.

Which is better overall?

Whilst it looks pretty clear that an automatic gearbox may have one, it really does depend on what you’re looking for. If you really like driving and you like having complete control over the car, you’ll probably prefer a manual. But if you’re looking for something that’s going to get you from A to B with ease, an automatic is the obvious choice.