A report by the AA shows that those of us searching for cars with automatic gearboxes has almost doubled in the past five years, going from 9.9% in 2014 to 18.6% this year.
In their recent survey of 20,000 motorists, the motoring organisation found most people prefer automatics—with well over half claiming they’re easier to drive—but could there be another reason for the increased interest in automatics?
A shift away from manual?
Used vehicle selling site, AA Cars, said they’ve added more automatic vehicles to their advertised vehicle stock over the last five years and, of the models listed, the number of cars with automatic gearboxes increased from 23.4% in 2014 to 32.1% in 2019.
But it has been the last two years where the largest increase in searches for automatic cars has happened, according to the AA’s figures.
AA Cars looked at where in the UK is selling the most automatic cars and revealed the top 10 towns and cities with both the highest and lowest proportion of automatic cars for sale.
The highest proportion of automatic cars for sale was in Chelmsford, Essex, where 61.4% of second-hand cars for sale have automatic gearboxes. London came second, with automatic cars accounting for 53.6% of available secondhand cars, followed by York, where 42% of cars for sale have automatic gearboxes. The eight other towns and cities with the highest percentage of automatics for sale are Leeds (42%), Bury (39.5%), Luton (39.5%), Lincoln (39.4%), Sheffield (38.7%), Bradford (36.8%), and Doncaster (35.4%).
In the 10 towns and cities with the lowest proportion of automatic cars for sale, Liverpool has the fewest, with automatics making up just 15.5% of the stock, followed by Paisley at 15.6%, and Edinburgh’s used automatics accounting for 17.5% of the market. Making up the rest are Stirling (17.6%), Glasgow (19.8%), Newcastle-upon-Tyne (19.8%), Rotherham (22.2%), Nottingham (22.6%), Wakefield (22.6%), and Preston (22.8%).
Also in the AA Populus poll, 57% of drivers said automatics are easier to drive than manual cars, which meant they found them more desirable and only 9% of motorists said they were harder to drive than a manual vehicle.
Despite the figures highlighting that most people find automatics easier to drive, 32% of motorists say they don’t enjoy driving automatics as much as cars with a manual gearbox, while 20% of the survey respondents said they get equal amounts of enjoyment whether they’re driving automatics or manuals.
By popular demand
Are cars with automatic transmissions more popular because we don’t want the hassle of changing gear ourselves? Well, maybe, but AA Cars said there’s a good chance it’s because more of us are searching online for used pure electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles. Most EVs don’t contain gearboxes and hybrid vehicles most often use an automatic-style gear-change.
James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, said:
‘Automatic vehicles are being manufactured in greater numbers, but it is pleasing to see that drivers are responding positively to this added supply with even more of them actively searching for these cars.
‘The increasing interest in electric cars is partly behind these figures, as the vast majority on sale are automatic and they are growing in popularity in the used car market.’
Clutch pedal use can get uncomfortable—more so in areas with heavy traffic—and can cause aching leg muscles because your left foot never gets a rest. Mr Fairclough said it was ‘no surprise to see that congested London is one of the best-stocked areas for automatic cars as they require much less effort to drive when someone is stuck in stop-start traffic.’
‘Every driver has different preferences for what they want from their car, so we would always urge people to take a car for a test drive before committing to a purchase. This can be an important step in determining if the car is in good condition, but will also help drivers decide if an automatic or manual is best for them, added Fairclough.
Shiftless and lazy?
Driving an automatic is a different driving experience than driving a vehicle with a manual gearbox, but is it lazy driving? What about power-assisted steering or other technological advances that make modern driving not only easier, but safer?
The AA’s survey results proved what we already knew; that many of us find it easier to drive automatics. Without the gear stick and clutch pedal, you can better focus more on other aspects of driving, like vehicle position, speed, and the road ahead. You also won’t suffer any embarrassment from stalling the engine, making hill starts and traffic lights easier, too.
Automatic cars aren’t without their downsides, though. In September, we told you about the hidden faults affecting some of the most popular cars, including the Ford B-Max (2012-2017), and the problems with its PowerShift automatic transmission that affected 25% of owners. Automatics also cost around £1,000 more than their manual equivalents, although the price difference decreases on used models.
Drivers who only hold an automatic licence often pay much higher car insurance premiums than those with a full licence and, if you pass your driving test in an automatic, you’re only legally allowed to drive an automatic vehicle, while if you pass your test in a manual car, you can drive both manual and automatic vehicles.
The government is looking into bringing the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars forward to 2035 and, with EVs and hybrids growing ever more popular and advanced, it’s thought manual cars could disappear from UK roads within 10 years—something I remember my driving instructor predicting. I guess she was right. One thing’s for sure, driverless cars won’t have gears.
Do you drive a vehicle with an automatic or manual transmission? Have you driven both types? Which do you prefer? Tell us in the comments.
I drove a manual car since 1956 but after an operation on my left ankle found it too painful and bought an automatic in 2010. Thought it would be hard but found it so easy but find mpg is far worse. .Have driven manual since on odd occasions and must say it is still enjoyable to be in manual mode !!!
I have an automatic car because we had automatic when my husband was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s he no longer drives but i got used to driving this tried to go back to manual but kept forgetting to change gear
To be honest, the only manual preferences I’ve had is in my Kubota tractor, although that was probably down to it reliably cutting an acre of grass on half a cup of diesel, the HST (not totally unlike an automatic) using double that, plus internet horror stories of expensive failures sucked all the fun out of it, even though it was easier to drive and with the lightest power steering I’ve experienced.
The only other was at work, my old Scania R480 manual was always nice to drive, the new R500 automatic was nice on the road but in town, particularly at junctions, it would often miss it’s gear when setting off, this would be particularly annoying if some kind driver, taking pity on you pulling your 30+ tonne trailer, was letting you out.
Untill we can optionally hand over control and liability to AI and it’s vendors, none of these driver aids are going to be a substitute for good driving, but we can use them to help. For instance last night when the cars behind me were performing emergency stops on seeing a police camera van in the dark in a Scottish village, in my Range Rover on cruise control at 29mph, I could afford not to let it, or my speedometer distract me and keep my attention on the children running across the village green.
Any reason for not wanting an automatic disappeared years ago. No idea why anybody would prefer a manual. Just look at the Porsche PDK or Mercedes 7GTronic there is no way a manual box can remotely compare. Coupled wit the rest of the electronics gear changes are faster , seamless and safer.
Of course we can all afford a Porsche or Merc. These are kind of halfway automatics. You don’t have a clutch pedal but still have gears. Most normal autos just go into drive with one or two options for different conditions.
Increased demand for automatic cars is nothing to do with laziness. It’s traffic congestion due to poor roads, roadworks and the huge increase in volumes of traffic.
You are absolutely correct , no one wants to sit in traffic playing with a clutch also more efficient utilising automatic especially in the many delays caused by poor road systems. in the UK
What has not been thought of; surprisingly; is that it goes hand-in-hand with the increase in the number of larger vehicles such as SUV’s that are being bought…mostly for female useage, and the fact so most women prefer automatics over a manual any day of the week.
It would make an interesting study/survey/comparison by this organisation to see just how many of the autos that were bought were SUV’s and how many were for women drivers.
What a stupid, sexist comment GMann !!!!!
Don’t know what gender you are but obviously a member of the PC brigade. I live in a congested area and sadly can confirm what GMann has said, women seem to be the predominant gender driving SUV’s. I am told that it is because (those that can afford it of course) they feel safer in a big vehicle when they are driving the kids to school. Nothing sexist about that FMCF.
Nope, it’s everything with that cross section of females identified who wish to use their uteri for offspring purposes. These so called SUV’s are”baby busses” for the mombies whom wish to congregate at the prison gates cooing over their charges, rather than concentrate what’s on the road in front of them. They are a danger to all road users! Not to mention the fact of the vehicle being used as a status symbol “for I am considerably richer than yaw!”
Angry females drive minis! And before you ask, I have a different brand of vehicle, suitable for my needs, that isn’t of mud diving capability even though I’m a country lass.
Skippy – Try getting your grammar right by using the word whom correctly. And your spelling. Before joining a public blog.
And no I’m not one of the mothers you’re insulting.
Another over intelligent fool pick on someone’s spelling to win points God help you
Tulip go back to Amsterdam
how is it sexist to refer to gender and ask if introducing some facts about gender use of certain vehicles be considered. Your attitude is typical of the PC element would would wish to have all mention of females (unless it is positive of course) banned. Get a grip.
harsh but true lol
Exactly, typical male chauvinist. I’m a woman and don’t care what I drive as long as it gets me where I want to go. Nothing to do with gender.
Although an automatic is of course more convenient in stop-start traffic.
I wonder why your findings have not been thought of? I drove manual cars for 50 years and had no desire to change to auto until I had a serious back injury 3 years ago. I would never (and probably couldn’t) go back to manual now. I do drive a 4 x 4 estate car but that is only because I tow sometimes. As a woman I find you’re remarks rather sexist but amusing.
I may be female but I DO NOT like being bracketed in a stereotype thank you! I HAVE to drive an automatic since having a double knee replacement just over 2 years ago. I miss the manual, plus you can’t do anything half as fun with an auto box. Don’t even get me started on electric brakes UGH! Yes I was taught to drive properly not like half of these snowflakes now who haven’t even got a clue!
What can’t you do with an automatic grearbox? I have to say that all vehicles should be fitted with CVT Transmissions. Though I do believe thzt CVT is still banned in motor sport as it makes the vehicles too hard to beat.
Yeah it’s really not about being lazy. Simply for mechanical things the machine is better than most of us at it. In the US it used to be unheard of to drive ‘stick shift’, but the US have much more of a service orientation. Here we’re polar opposite in this sense, and this is reflected historically in our choice of transmission. Maybe we’re simply becoming more service driven, expecting more from the car than simply ferrying us between this place and that.
I have a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair, which has a 4 speed manual transmission. Its a delight to drive, and so much more economical to operate than the same car with the 2 – speed Powerglide automatic.
I have an automatic, because of a serious injury to my left knee. My 208 has the EAT box, and I drive it as a 2 pedal manual. It comes into its own in traffic, as a manual gearbox would cripple my knee.
As for the fuel economy – 50+ mpg on out of town driving, but town driving? Don’t ask.
I drive an automatic, this is due to me being disabled and not having a choice on the matter. I really enjoy driving, but this could just be the freedom it gives me.
I have been driving for 56 yeas & always had manual cars. Prefered them to autos due to the feeling of the gear change in autos, felt that prooer drivers had manual gears & more control of the car. Having recently changed my car for a subaru xv which is only priduced in auto configuration, i have been proved wrong now with modern autos being lineartronic. They are very smooh & a more relaxed drive. Yes you suffer on fuel economy a little but a small price to pay for responsive acceleration & relaxed driveing mode. The only down side is that you have to stop with foot on brake for the aito stop start to work this is technically a rosd traffic offence not to use hand brake at lights, junctions etc. Pitty this is the case as manual cars with this now common technology do alow hand brake to be used in neutral at junctions etc. Perhaps in time manufacturers will address this. I van now say i am a convert to auto cars but i do enjoy driving my wifes manual car, just have to concentrate a little more when first in ca as need to remember to use the clutch when stolling at junctions.
IAM advice is to go handbrake; neutral, in an auto when you need to stop for more than a few seconds. Advantages are: stop/ start is still functional; safer; and you don’t dazzle the driver behind with your brake lights. I do this and don’t find I have delayed starts.
Exception would be when joining a queue on eg fast road or motorway with traffic still coming up behind you. On a level surface point front wheels slightly to R H side and change to neutral (no handbrake) in case you’re shunted. Of course if it’s not level use handbrake.
Sorry folks, should have said point front wheels to nearest ‘escape’ side, eg central barrier or hard shoulder…
Maybe it’s a function of increasing traffic congestion and hence continual working of the clutch pedal. Plus, the difference in economy is precious little and in urban conditions I actually find the fule consumption to be less – due to better torque matching?
Auto better fuel than a manual ! Thats a new one. All published figures show it to be the complete reverse.
I am not comparing it with machine testing, but with my own driving in a lower powered manual gear change vehicle. It’s likely of course that larger cars with economy and sport settings make one a smoother driver than in medium size cars.
My 2015 8 speed auto BMW 520d touring is rated with lower emissions and better fuel economy than the manual version; never having owned a manual 520d I can’t confirm whether the manufacturers data is correct. It is always in the right gear for optimum engine revs and fuel economy. I enjoy driving both my auto BMW and my manual MINI Cooper S and very rarely forget to use the clutch as both cars are so radically different to drive. I wouldn’t buy an auto MINI but am unlikely to opt for a manual 5 series.
I drive an auto Auidi Q3 replacing my Mazda sports car . The Audi is much better to drive. My wife has an auto Mini Cooper S which is superb to drive. Mte fun than my sports car |
I can confirm that. My auto BRZ is more efficient than the manual version.
With regard to automatic gear boxes I thought I would never own an auto but as referred to in the article, driving has lost much of its pleasure particularly the constant stop start in the never ending queues and city traffic. Although not enjoyable auto allows stop start to be a great deal easier practically and on the knees!
I used to drive a manual, but due to being disabled found it harder to do . Over the years So now I have a automatic, but still found it hard to find the right car with the seat and pedals for my needs without having adjustments . Also why when I need an automatic due having disability they’re more expensive,
But it does give me a more freedom, I have a smart and can fit a suitcase mobility scooter in the back for shopping.
Arthritis in my knees forced me to buy automatic…..otherwise I’d still be driving manual
I have driven both I have always preferred a manual until recently when I was told I have a form of degenerative Arthritis in my knee so I am planning a switch soon
I have driven an automatic for several years now. I developed quite painful knee joints and this made changing gear and/or sitting in traffic very uncomfortable. With an automatic I do not have this problem. I do drive manuals now and then but prefer the auto.
What a stupid headline. I believe that driving an automatic car is far safer and I base that statement on nearly 55 years of driving. Back in the 1960s, 1970s and possibly the early 1980s traffic levels were not so heavy and manual gear change was the standard, plus one was younger and probably motivated to move at higher speeds.
Now the pleasure has gone from driving, it is more tiring because of traffic levels so being in a car with an automatic gearbox makes more sense and assists your driving and allows one to concentrate on driving. The technology is there so use it!
Never a truer word spoken.
Couldnt agree more when my brother learned it was in 70s less cars, less traffic less other obstacles big lorries, skips blocking roads, 3/4 cars per house it was more pleasurable and less stopping in a manual, learning now is much harder, both practical and theory. I remember early 80s much less cars easier to walk not a big van or car blocking pavements. In West Midlands by me we have more hills plus more cars! It doesnt make much sense not having an automatic. My dad had type 2 diabetes so had an automatic after driving manuals most of his life it was cheap but he loved it. Any form of cheaper automatic would probably do as a starter. Tbh not sure what it is to overall driving as now there is more hazards there is more need to observe now than years ago so you need more concentration, gearbox or no gearbox you still have to learn the same road skills although automatic would allow those skills to develop quicker overall. I guess there is more likely to be accidents as in an automatic you keep both hands on steering wheel more (or should do although I do this in a manual anyway, although some dont keep both hands on the wheel due to bad habits), but it should be up to people what they prefer and is better for their circumstances. Maybe its actually some get bored quicker and need something to occupy them so need a manual more. I wouldnt say from my experience manuals are more exciting I just see it as an extra thing to think about although my brain cannot cope with extra information and I dont get bored quicker as long as I can get safely to where I need. Just being in a car excites me tbh and the freedom it gives
I’ve always had a manual up until my current car, I suffer with a left knee problem so the auto was a blessing, I agree with a previous comments , the auto gearbox is more thirstier , however I do have a shift style gear lever and paddle shifters which simulates a manual transmission somewhat!
Passed test in a manual in 1959 and have driven so many cars since. Have driven automatics since my first in 1978 and never liiked back. All subsequent cars have been autos and for years I have been saying to others everything commented upon in the article above. Far more relaxed drive in and out of all traffic conditions, no left knee problems with constant clutch changing, consistent. Good auto reliability with only one of wifes cars (Austin Metro) had gear box failure under warranty. A couple of miles less per gallon is cheap price to pay but most autos are so much better on fuel consumption and reliability than years ago that I cannot understand how drivers still want to “stir the box” with a manual?
I also tow a caravan and how easy manouvering is that with an auto!!
With the advancement in the newer types of automatic gearboxes, they are miles apart from the older torque converter style transmissions. the new DSG gearboxes use a type of twin plate centrifugal clutch and a dual shaft gearbox which eliminates the slow pull away and slow gear change as it is always in one gear or another. The CVT transmission has no gearbox or clutch, it works on a twin pulley system with a tapered belt running between them. My prefered type is the DSG because of its direct drive.
For the motor trade to make money on but hey, people have too much money I guess.
That said, heavier cars now, many without traditional clutches but with DMF mean that recent manual gearboxes were often expensive to maintain anyway so even for a ludite, a modern automatic can makes sense but electronic manual gearboxes often have reliability issues which attract very expensive repairs.
Switched to auto in the late (19)80’s and shall never return to manual g/b, but can still enjoy using a manual with, say, a holiday rental.
Have similar DSG 7-speed unit, choice of five different settings, from economy thru to sport, always in correct gear, achieves 40+ mpg on local (mostly urban) roads, and 50+ mpg on a “run”, that’s A roads, not M-way speeds. Mainly use full auto but has option of flappy-paddle &/or sequential gear changes for bit more fun, where appropriate. What’s not to enjoy with that flexibility?
Just wait untill it starts to jump gears in first or reverse and you get a repair bill for £12.00 as we have and the vehicle has only got 10.000 on the clock luckily it was under private warranty the vehicle is a Skoda Octavia and 64 plate bought on a trade in .I honestly hope you never experience the problem by the way the car it’s self is great in every other way
Could you please explain what is lazy in driving an automatic? I lost my right arm due to a motorcycle accident in 1970. Therefore the only type of vehicle that the DVLA will allow me to drive must be fitted with automatic transmission. Also I am certain that there must be many other people in the same condition, or worse, that rely on this type of vehicle.
I have driven an auto since 1970 although I learnt to drive a manual. I can’t see the point in messing about with a gear stick – I can keep both hands on the steering wheel. It would be good for someone to do an analysis of accidents comparing the percentages of accidents between both autos and manuals. And I agree with a Paul Bates that it is not a lazy choice – for me it is a better choice.
It does no matter if you are able or disable it is up to the individuals to buy and drive any vehicle they wish not for other people to decide what they think they should have this is part of what is the problem with this country folks can’t live and let live (they have to know better)
Well said Paul Bates! I find the articles title offensive! My sister father and I have all switched to auto because of knee problems – we are not lazy!!!!
Different FROM, not different THAN
This is the 21st Century people. There should be no need for archaic manuals at all. There only saving grace is their cheaper purchase/service costs due to the more advanced engineering req for autos. I can’t wait to have an electric car as the norm so we can be rid of manuals once and for all.
I had to change from a manual to auto due to an injured left ankle, which of course made clutch use very difficult. Having occasionally driven autos at work I can say that modern autos are a vast improvement on those of 20yrs ago.
If you are driving mainly in town with heavy traffic, then autos are much better and safer. You can just concentrate on your driving and react more quickly to other driver errors.
I became disabled 11 years ago losing the use of my left arm and leg and DVLA rightly took my manual licence away so since then have only driven auto and with 30 years previous driving manual I don’t think I would go back to manual even if I could.
I find automatic to be a much smoother drive – especially when my wife is driving!
And – my high performance cars mostly had automatic gearboxes as standard.
It made crawling along in traffic queues so much less stressful.
That’s a very sexist comment John….
Proper high performance cars always have manual boxes, or at least paddle shift.
Crawling in traffic is easier but not all of us spend commuting time in traffic.
Nothing wrong with sexism.
Proper high performance cars used to have manual geaboxes, 30 years ago, now all the really fast cars are autos; both the F-Type and 911 Turbo are faster and more economical in automatic form, in fact Jaguar have now dumped the manual F-Type.
The only things left with manual gearboxes are pretentious designer models, and shopping trolleys.
And shopping trolleys have a mind of their own especially when it comes to steering.
if he’d said “when women are driving” you might have a point (though likely this could be empirically proved), but he didn’t, he specifically talked about a personal experience that you have zero knowledge about and he has tons. Why are you invalidating his lived experience? I bet you wouldn’t dream of correcting a woman complaining about her husband not doing the washing up (when lots of men across the world actually do do the washing up) would you? No, and that is actually a real sexist position to take, treating someone differently because of their sex.
Well said! 👍🏻
Had an auto since 72 never had any probs Mrs’s idea never went back to man.
Drove my first Automatic while on holiday visiting in-laws in Los Angeles, was quite impressed (& bought my own new Toyota Yaris automatic a few years later) pleased with it’s performance and reliability, but now only drive manual vehicles. Five vans & Campervans later am quite happy with manual gearboxes also.
Always loved manual gearbox always felt more in control as automatics felt more sluggish. Not true anymore with modern cars. Have only changed to an automatic recently due to traffic congestion and having to constantly change gear.
I never thought I would buy an automatic but having spent hours crawling in stop start motorway traffic and finally arriving home with a knackered left knee, it will be my choice next time.
I have changed to an automatic simply because there were no manual options available in the cars I wanted. I wanted a petrol car with RW or 4WD drive, 4 seater, and decent performance. I considered an Alfa Giulia, Jaguar XE and BMW series 3. None of these was available in manual. I could have had a Mustang in manual, but the rear seating was a joke.
I much prefer manual and would gladly sell it, even though it is only one year old, if I could get a manual that matched my specs. It is ok to drive, but nowhere near as enjoyable as a manual box. Yes, the gears can be overridden with the paddles, but I prefer it to stay in the gear I want rather than having to ‘fight’ the auto.
Try getting a new manual BMW or Volvo. Not any more.
Not lazy, most cars are now auto, even my 44 ton hgv is automatic, stops driver abusing the clutch. Also I bought a auto car because of the stupid duel mass fly wheel jokes they fit in a manual car these days, if you like quick getaways and use all your cars power the flywheel centre breaks lose an its then 1500- 1800 quids worth of scrap in as little as 40k miles. My last manual car did 189k on the same clutch and flywheel. So I avoided that pit fall by going auto, don’t buy CVT or ford powers#@t as it became known or Nissan/Renault auto are jatco made junk that will bust in no time.
I always drove manuals, for 30 years. Gives a proper understanding of driving efficiently. But having driven a lot in N America I found I was concentrating more on where I was going. When I bought a new car it only came in Auto. My insurance then decreased significantly by changing from a 1.8 to 2.5 because, according to the insurance company, drivers spend more time concentration on the road!
I always drive an automatic when I go to America as it is one less thing to have to do.
I see a few manufacturers are now claiming better fuel economy for their auto variants.
One point that was not mentioned in the article is the fact that a lot of automatics are more economical than their manual equivalent which was my reason for buying an automatic
They’re not all better…but they’re getting there, but by then we’ll all be driving electric vehicles that have no gears…just less range and queues at garage charging stations;as is the case in London; where they’re continually ‘hogged’ by taxi’s.
So, when I pick up my Kia e Niro I’ll look forward to only having to plug it in (at home) once or so a week and still reserving enough range to drive the 100 miles to London after which I’ll probably charge it up at the services whilst I stop for a break. Or I could keep it at 80% meaning I could drive to London and back without having to use any public chargers. I’ll also benefit from having maximum torque/power from 0 mph so no problem with pulling away at the lights. It’s also a fact that there are more EV charging points than there are petrol stations in the U.K. and this is increasing. I won’t ever have to worry about taking a detour on the way home from work to fill up with petrol. You just need to have a different mindset with EVs.
Give me a manual anytime ,automatics are ok in traffic, but I like to be in charge of when I change gear, now 90 just passed my IAM test again.
Well done, you! I’m 73 and doubt I’ll still be driving at your age, probably in my box, before long.
That is as may be, but I got my first automatic about a year ago after damaging my left knee.
Its brilliant, can drive in auto and over-ride any time needed. Otherwise can flip to manual mode instantly for full control paddle shift. Computer prevents potentially damaging changes, can’t go wrong.
Didn’t know what I was missing!
automatic gives more brainpower to concentrate on traffic etc
I chose an AUTO car for every day driving. It is so convenient in stop start traffic down here on the south coast. My 999cc Skoda SUV (petrol) still returns between 43 and 52 mpg. Great car, great 7 speed auto box. For weekend driving I am lucky enough to have a 1.5 Mazda MX5 MANUAL. Keeps my hand in for real weekend driving around the country lanes. Many a smile per country mile as any MX5 Driver will tell you and I have averaged 48 mpg over the last 18 months of ownership. Well pleased!
I’m sorry but why would anyone want to have a manual gearbox if an automatic was available? You may as well go back to steam power or the horse and carriage.
I passed my driving test in 1968 and have driven just about every type of vehicle except HGV. I currently have a hybrid Peugeot auto which returns 45 MPG in town driving. (I still prefer it even though it’s the worst auto box I have ever driven!)
As for “feeling in control” – the last refuge of the boy racer! I’m a life-long formula 1 fan so I love speed under the right circumstances but modern road conditions are about concentration and defensive driving and you need all your attention on that not moving a stick around.
And, while we’re on the subject, when will the car rental fleets reflect the driving public’s preference for auto gearboxes?
I had a foot operation on my left toe hence now an automatic car as it’s uncomfortable to use a clutch, but I would have changed anyway, due to the constant traffic jams and stop and start!
I can’t understand why anyone would still want to drive a manual transmission vehicle in this day and age. Not only are autos easier to drive, they are more fuel efficient and you are less likely to abuse the engine as the gearbox always selects the best gear to be in. I have an E class 220d with the 9gtronic box and it’s absolutely amazing to drive, with up to 60mpg on a run.
Its a diesel….of course it will give good mpg ! Doubtful if it was a petrol though.
I have yet to get an automatic that can beat a manual on MPG
I have had a auto and diesel for the last 5 years, but I also occasionally drive a manual If and when I change car I would noT have another diesel or manual. On the auto side I never feel really in control . Electric doesn’t do it for me as I need to be able to cover Midlands to Devon and return in same daY. The idea of having to stop to recharge for an hour makes it impractical. In addition if you do not have a private drive to park in it is against the law to trail a cable across a public footpath.
Automatic every time for me, easier to drive generally safer and with modern auto gearboxes more economical what’s not to like about them?
I beg to differ on the safety aspect – no control over engine braking, sudden unexpected gear changes, a delay when pulling away.
First drove an automatic in Australia but it was in New Zealand where it came into it’s own. Driving through the Southern Alps the car was downshifting all the time going around hairpins. I thought then, that with a manual box my clutch leg would have been aching. Autos’ are so much easier, especially in this country.
What a load of utter rubbish that headline is. I own an automatic but drive manuals on a daily basis and the simple fact is that Auto’s have come on leaps and bounds, to the point that you now get better fuel economy and you simply can’t change gear as well as an auto does.
The fact that Mercedes don’t provide a manual in some variants says it all, but couple that with review sites where they say that the manuals are notchy and you should only go for auto does not mean we are lazy.
Certain larger cars and many American cars haven’t provided a manual option for decades, but that’s not because the auto options were better. It’s just what sells – back to the article headline.
I have had an automatic for last 4 years.
So much easier than manual especially in traffic. It also ensures you are in the correct gear which in turn helps reduce brake wear.
The recent batch of auto boxes I drove would have increased brake wear over my normal driving style. Coming up to traffic I can lift off or change down in a manual. Automatics down slow down the same way when you lift off, and having to change down a gear using paddles or the auto shift sort of defeats the object.
I also found fuel consumption rose because you were always in gear. A slow, lazy change down when going down a slight hill in a manual box if much more efficient than having to brake slightly in an auto.
Auto’s have the problem with enthusiastic stop/start as well. Come up to a junction and stop, and so does the engine. Pull away and there is a slight delay to start up and move off. Unless you want to keep stabbing the auto stop button, it’s no way near as convenient as pressing the clutch when you know you’re off again in a second or so.
In slow traffic an auto is very convenient, albeit that most people sit with their foot on the brake blinding the driver behind. For fun and total control, it’s a manual every time.
We have a skoda fabia diesel automatic. Nearly 60mpg over the last 6000miles. As it is VW based it uses their semi auto 6speed box, which has sport mode and manual override, best of both worlds. So you can still down shift on hills and have fun if you get manual box urges! I am also a van driver and motorcyclist, so experience all types of driving.
‘Ensures you are in the correct gear..” ! no concentration required. But if you were driving a manual and you were not in the right gear then it most definitely means you’re NOT concentrating !
When I was 20, I drove a mini and despised the very idea of a car changing gear for me – now that I’m nearly 70 and they’re engineered so much better, it seems like a nice idea, especially in traffic jams.
If EV’s or hybrids ever become affordable for me I’ll get one and I’d be perfectly happy with an automatic – I have driven 2 (petrol) and they were both ever so restful in heavy suburban traffic. However, I would hesitate to buy an automatic now because I’m pretty sure I could still get more mpg from a manual. Sadly it’s all about cost (had to laugh at the comment below about the Porsche PDK or Mercedes 7GTronic. Him and me live on different planets).
I am going to get an automatic next year simply because I can start the engine from inside my house so the car is warm for my baby, nothing to do with laziness.
After 40 years being on the road, I still drive a manual car as I find it more engaging. Having said that, the types of high performance cars I have had are more and more being supplied with auto boxes only. Technology has also come on leaps and bounds in the auto box area making vehicles fitted with them more economical to use.