Manual vs. automatic: Which is better?

It's the battle of the gearboxes as OSV compares manual and automatic...

When choosing your lease car, you might want to think about what gearbox you want. Are you going to go for a manual? Or an automatic? Maybe you have a preference for one or the other.

Or, maybe you want to work out which one is cheapest.

So, which is best?

In this article, we investigate the pros and cons of each, and how they affect lease price.

What are the pros and cons of a manual car?

Let’s start off with the advantages of a manual car.

Many people go for manual cars because, quite simply, they’ve always driven manual. Some feel they have more control. And die-hard petrol heads will say that manual is the only way to drive. But, what actually are the advantages of a manual car?

  •  They are cheaper to maintain
    • A lot of technology goes into an automatic gearbox, so can be costly. A manual, however, requires little to maintain, and tend to be cheaper to repair.
  • Better fuel efficiency
    • Generally speaking, manuals are still more economical. But, only by a little bit and you need to be a great driver.
  • They tend to be cheaper overall
    • Manual cars do tend to be cheaper than automatics, sometimes significantly cheaper.
manual vs automatic
  • More control
    • A manual gearbox gives you more control over the car than you would with an automatic (unless you have a paddle shift or manual override, which you can use when required). You are also more involved as a driver, which many enjoy.
    • This is also true on a safety level. You are always thinking with a manual, therefore you are more likely to be an alert driver.

But, it does have its disadvantages. For example;

manual vs. automatic
  • You have to divide your attention
    • While there is no difference in safety between the gearboxes, when you have a manual you do have to divide your attention. Plus, you have to take one hand off the wheel to change gears.
    • To compete with the performance and economy of a modern automatic, you need to be a very good driver.
  • They can be more difficult to use during heavy traffic and long distance driving
    • Changing gears constantly can be annoying and tiresome

What are the pros and cons of an automatic car?

Automatic cars are great for those doing long journeys and are prone to being stuck in heavy traffic. They are also better for those with mobility issues that mean changing gears can be difficult.

Nowadays, there are quite a few automatic transmissions available to you. These include;

  • Traditional automatic
  • Dual-Clutch automatic
  • Automated manual (or semi-automatic)
  • CVT
  • DSG

We aren’t going to go into detail about each and every one of these because that would take forever. This article will just be focused on automatics in general.

In my experience, I have found that those who have an automatic will very rarely go back to a manual.

But, why? What are the advantages of an automatic?

  • It saves hassle
    • Especially if you are doing a lot of long-distance driving and want to concentrate on the road
    • And, they are easier to drive in heavy traffic
  • Automatics tend to have better residual value
    • This means the resale price is higher than that of a manual
  • They have become more economical
    • Technology has advanced since automatic gearboxes were introduced. However, manufacturers have really upped their game to produce more fuel efficient gearboxes.
manual vs. automatic
  • In fact, I know of some manufacturers with automatic cars who’s listed fuel consumptions are actually better than their manual counterparts. 
  • This is because they have become so clever that they know when to change gear at the optimal time. Whereas we, as humans, rarely have that ability.
  • They are more economical (compared to the average manual car, they aren’t as expensive to run anymore)
  • Before, if you used to have an automatic 2 litre petrol car it used to cost you the earth to run in fuel costs, but that isn’t the case anymore.

 

  • They avoid those jerky gear changes of a manual car when you don’t get it right

 

 

So we’ve been through the advantages, what are the disadvantages?

servicing a car
  • They are more expensive
    • If you were to buy an automatic, you would be paying more than if you were to buy a manual
  • They cost more to maintain
    • Because automatics are more technical, they can be costly to maintain
  • They are also more expensive to repair
    • Again, due to the amount of technology involved
  • They can be boring
    • Some people don’t like automatics because they feel they are more boring to drive. You aren’t as involved as a driver as you are in a manual

Manual vs. Automatic; Which is cheaper to lease?

So, which is cheaper to lease?

To be honest, it depends. Mainly, it depends on the car.

For example, automatics tend to be more popular on the cars that are more popular to lease, such as executive saloon cars. These types of cars also tend to have higher residual value. Therefore, the lease price may be cheaper than if you were to go for a manual version of one of these cars.

However, a manual Ford Fiesta will be cheaper to lease than an automatic due to the fact that automatic versions may not be as popular to lease.

Ultimately, though, the lease price will not be determined on the gearbox alone – other factors will either raise or lower the price of the car. However, it will have an impact, if only slightly.

Hopefully, this has cleared a few things up in terms of the pros and cons of each, and how each affects lease price.

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Becca Wells

Vehicle Specialist at OSV Ltd
Becca enjoys: Spending time with her friends and family

Becca always wants and expects the best from herself and will always place the customer at the top of her priority list. She's bubbly and a positive force in the office, always making sure everyone is having a good time.
Becca Wells
  • 3rd October 2016

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