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Automatic vs Manual Car

By raccars Published

Automatic vs Manual Car - Which Best Suits Your Driving Needs?

For drivers that spend a large amount of time on the road in stop-start traffic, perhaps automatic would be the better choice for driving simplicity. However, if you are someone who likes to feel in control or simply enjoy the full driving experience, then possibly a manual car is the right choice for you.

Read our full analysis of manual and automatic cars below, and make the decision that’s right for you.

Buying A Manual Or Automatic Car?

Buying a car involves making a lot of choices that don’t always have an obvious answer, like “should I choose a diesel or a petrol engine? ” and “should I choose a manual or an automatic car?”.

Luckily, the RAC are here to help guide you when dwelling over buying a manual or an automatic car. We have had a good look at all of the facts and, with any luck, can make at least one part of your car buying process that bit easier. Once you’ve read our comparison, and you feel more confident in making a decision, you can search for your next used car from an RAC Approved Dealer.

When choosing between a car fitted with a manual or automatic gearbox you would think it would be as simple as deciding if you want to be in control of the gear changing or not. But these days, it can be a little more complicated.

It’s a fact that if you opt for a traditional manual transmission then all the gear changing will be your responsibility. However, if you select certain automatic transmissions these days, then you have the option of changing gear manually or automatically.

There are thousands of used cars with the gearbox of your preference to be found on RAC Cars.


Automatic car Automatic car

Automatic Cars - What Do You Need To Know?

● Simplicity - just make your drive selection and your gearbox does the rest

● Automatic cars are generally more expensive to buy

● No need to continually change gear, brake and speed up in congested traffic

● Automatic gearboxes are more expensive to repair and more likely to fail than manual gearboxes

● The gear changes are smooth and increase the speed of the the car more efficiently

View used automatic cars currently being sold on RAC Cars today.


[caption id="attachment_19161" align="alignleft" width="750"]Manual gear stick Manual gear stick[/caption]

Next, we move into the Manual car and some of the most important factors to consider when buying the more traditional gearbox.

Of course the manual gearbox gives drivers more control when accelerating, but it also means that the car’s efficiency depends on the skill of the driver. Lot’s of things to consider, so let’s take a look at some of the need to knows.

Manual Cars - What Do You Need To Know?

● Manual cars are generally cheaper than their automatic equivalents

● Driving is more physically exhausting

● Drivers are more engaged in the process

● The gearbox’s lifespan is more at the mercy of the driver

● Manual gearboxes are cheaper to fix than automatics

View thousands of used manual cars currently being sold on RAC Cars today.

New Automatic and Manual Cars

Price and performance

So far a lot of the differences have come down to cost and efficiency, with a bit of servicing thrown in for good measure. But what about performance? This table below, while including some information about MPG and emissions, also gives you an idea of the acceleration associated with the differing transmissions.

MODEL New Prices 0-62mph Combined mpg CO2
Honda HRV 1.5 i-VTEC SE CVT (automatic)  


10.9 seconds


Honda HRV 1.5 i-VTEC SE (manual)  


10.4 seconds


Skoda Octavia S Hatchback 1.0 TSI 115PS DSG (automatic)  


10.0 seconds


Skoda Octavia S Hatchback 1.0 TSI 115PS (manual)  


9.9 seconds


Mazda CX-3 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 120PS SE Auto (automatic)  


9.0 seconds


Mazda CX-3 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 120PS SE (manual)  


9.0 seconds


Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Design 1.4i 140PS Turbo Auto (automatic)  


10.2 seconds


Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Design 1.4i 140PS Turbo (manual)  


9.9 seconds




There’s quite a lot going on in the table above, and the new wave of modern, almost hybrid gearboxes can be confusing at the best of times.

[caption id="attachment_19162" align="alignleft" width="750"]Hybrid car Hybrid car[/caption]

Combined MPG is calculated by combining 55 percent urban driving with 45 percent highway driving. For CO2 emissions you are looking at how much CO2 the vehicle omits per kilometre.

Before you purchase a new or used car on RAC Cars, take the time to learn a bit more about this new breed of gearboxes entering the market.

Is It Really An Automatic?

These days automatic doesn’t necessarily mean automatic because there are certain gearboxes that offer the best of both worlds.

What Are Semi-Automatic Models?

Semi-automatic models offer scope for the driver to take control as well as sit back and relax. As well as the ‘D’ for Drive there is a ‘+’ and ‘–’ symbol and you use the gear selector to change up or down through the gears. Some more expensive models also have steering wheel mounted paddles.

CVT Options

Added to the mix are Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearboxes that many hybrid cars use, implementing a single automated clutch which is operated electronically rather than by the left foot. There is also a twin clutch which is similar but utilises two clutches for faster gear changes.

Anything Else You Should Know?

Just one more thing. Some manufacturers call their gearboxes by a different name. For example, Audi calls its S-tronic, VW’s is named DSG and Porsche has the PDK. So, it’s important to check out exactly what automatic transmission is being offered with a car.

Now you have all of the information when it comes to automatic and manual cars we hope you are a little more prepared to make your car purchasing decision. View thousands of used automatic and manual cars being sold on RAC Cars.

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