Which one is more attractive: Manual or Automatic?

March 13, 2015

Are you learning to drive or planning to do so? Undecided between a manual or automatic vehicle? It’s the most common question which arises when learning to drive.

Let’s take a quick look at a manual versus automatic comparison:

Manual Automatic
  • Takes a bit longer to learn than an automatic.
  • Once licensed you can drive manuals and automatics.
  • Easy to Learn.
  • You can’t drive a manual without retaking your test.
  • Usually less expensive than Automatics.
  • Usually more expensive than manuals.
  • Driver has full control of gear selection
  • Can become tiresome in stop-start urban traffic
  • Manual transmissions have historically been more energy efficient than traditional automatic transmissions
  • Relaxed driving without thinking about gear change.
  • Autos don’t roll back on hills
  • Easier driving
  • Manual has more male drivers
  • Automatic has more female drivers

One standard type of Manual Transmission:

Manual TransmissionThere is only one standard type of manual transmission, typically with either five, six or even seven gears. Gears are changed by hand whilst applying the clutch as each change is made.

The overall design of this transmission is fairly simple and efficient, it gives drivers direct control over the car. Manual transmission is a standard transmission in the UK.

Types of Automatic Transmission:

There are more choices when it comes to automatics, with several varieties available.

  • Traditional Automatic

Traditional automatic gearboxes are still available in many models. The component is called a torque converter instead of clutch. It tends to offer smoother and more relaxed gear changes with the car selecting the best ratio between the speed and level of acceleration.

Due to the heavier weight, it’s normally found on larger cars. Latest models now have up to nine speeds. However, a traditional automatic gearbox will tend to change gear more slowly than a dual-clutch gearbox and will usually make the car less fuel efficient.

  • CVT

The Continuously Variable Transaxle is mostly known as CVT and is extremely reliable and appears in small city cars. It was first developed in the late 1960s and is very smooth to drive. Normally you can find these CVT gearboxes in hybrid cars.

  • Single Automated Clutch

With a single automated clutch, the automatic gear lever is attached to a conventional manual gearbox with the clutch operated electronically rather than by the driver’s foot.

These transmissions are quite popular and are less expensive than traditional automatic transmissions. However single clutch boxes can be jerky and sometimes the software cannot decide quickly enough which gear to be in.

  • Double Automated Clutch or twin-clutch

A dual clutch transmission refers to a double automated clutch or twin-clutch. It uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets. They are quite quick and follow the driver-actioned changes faster than a regular, manual gearbox.

Porsche’s PDK and Volkswagen’s DSG are the best known examples of this transmission type. With electronics monitoring the car’s efficiency and with more gears on hand, automatics are frequently more economical than the manual versions. With greater fuel efficiency comes lower CO2 emissions too.


Most drivers normally choose a manual transmission car. It takes a bit longer to learn compared to an automatic, however once you get used to and understand how they works you will find it simple and easy. Driving is a skill that needs to be practiced and mastered.

Those who give priority to driving experience and fuel economy are likely to choose a car with manual transmission.


Automatic driving is much easier than manual as you don’t need to change the gear. Automatic cars are faster to learn and the test can certainly feel easier.

Today’s automatic transmission cars are integrated with computer technology and present other options exceedingly more attractive to drivers.

According to our DVLA source, female learner drivers chose automatic at a higher ratio than males.

Points to consider when learning to drive an automatic:

  • Automatic driving lessons are more expensive due to automatic cars using slightly more fuel than a manual.
  • It costs less to learn due to fewer driving lessons needed.
  • Automatic licence holders cannot drive manual transmission vehicles without retaking their test.
  • Automatic vehicles can cost more to purchase and consume more fuel than the manual equivalent.

Manual versus Automatic Driving Passing Ratio :

In the UK, most new learner drivers are learning manual rather than automatic. Manual learner drivers pass with a higher ratio than automatic vehicles.

Let’s take a look at the DVLA’s (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) passing ratio here:

Automatic Male Tests Female Tests Total Tests
Conducted Passes Pass Rate Conducted Passes Pass Rate Conducted Passes Pass Rate
2013-14 22,295 9,721 43.6% 73,461 27,545 37.5% 95,759 37,266 38.9%
2012-13 20,336 8,977 44.1% 67,506 25,772 38.2% 87,844 34,749 39.6%
2011-12 17,189 7,051 41.0% 53,235 19,347 36.3% 70,429 26,400 37.5%
2010-11 19,903 8,315 41.8% 63,650 23,721 37.3% 83,554 32,036 38.3%
2009-10 17,522 7,540 43.0% 53,927 20,341 37.7% 71,454 27,884 39.0%
Manual Male Tests Female Tests Total Tests
Conducted Passes Pass Rate Conducted Passes Pass Rate Conducted Passes Pass Rate
2013-14 706,757 358,143 50.7% 770,823 337,436 43.8% 1,477,585 695,580 47.1%
2012-13 682,699 345,599 50.6% 753,774 331,653 44% 1,436,481 677,255 47.1%
2011-12 744,487 374,472 50.3% 824,572 361,685 43.9% 1,569,069 736,158 46.9%
2010-11 772,537 383,405 49.6% 833,035 360,637 43.3% 1,605,599 744,044 46.3%
2009-10 753,838 370,148 49.1% 780,087 333,805 42.8% 1,534,039 703,994 45.9%

Have you decided which one you will go for? Are you more of an automatic or manual transmission type of person? It’s great to have a host of choices.

It is good to know the difference between automatic and manual cars however it truly depends on your choice and whichever one you feel more comfortable driving. If you need any help finding the best car for you then speak to our sales team on 0800 458 0113! (free from a land line)