Are automatic cars better than manual cars?

By Swindon Link - 18 December 2021


In 2020, automatic cars reached a key milestone in their popularity. For the first time, more new automatic cars were bought compared to those with manual gearboxes. There has also been an increase in learner drivers driving automatic cars. With this information in mind, how do automatic cars compare with manual? Should you choose an automatic car for your next vehicle? Let’s take a look.

What is the difference between automatic and manual cars?

The main difference between a manual and automatic car is the gearbox. This being that automatic cars don’t have one. Manual gearboxes allow to driver to choose between different gears to drive the car. Manual cars have three pedals; the clutch, brake, and accelerator. The clutch is used in conjunction with the gearbox to change through the gears when needed. Automatic cars have a brake and accelerator, and the driver can choose between 4 modes, Park Reverse, Neutral and Drive. Automatic cars don’t need a clutch as the car changes gears for you.


Which is better - automatic, or manual?

There are a few different factors you should compare before you set your sights on the car you want! This can include safety, cost, fuel efficiency, driving experience and also insurance premiums. See how they compare below:



Automatic cars can be safer to drive due to the attention you can give to the road. When you drive a manual car, you take one hand off the wheel to change gears which means you have less control of your car. There’s no need for this with automatics and can improve your focus and attention on the road.



Manual cars are more than likely cheaper to buy than automatics cars. Automatics can be more expensive to buy, both new and used so they may not be the right choice for you if you have a limited budget. However, if you have your heart set on an automatic, there are many automatic cars on finance offers available which can help you to spread the cost!


Fuel efficiency

It’s unclear whether a manual or automatic car is more fuel efficient. It can instead depend on the make and model of your chosen car. Typically, an older automatic car would be less fuel efficient than a manual car these days, but many newer automatic cars have highly improved efficiency. If you’re comparing new cars, you may find that many automatic cars are now more efficient than manual.


Driving experience

Which car you choose depends on what type of driving experience you’re after. If you want more focus on the road and less distraction, you could be better suited to an automatic. They can also be more suited to urban or city driving where there is more stops start traffic. Many motoring enthusiasts don’t like automatic cars as much because it takes away that connection with the car. If you like to be in control and decide when your car is ready to change through the gears, you could like a manual car better.



When it comes to getting insurance for your car, getting a manual can be a cheaper option. Currently, it is around 20% more expensive to insure an automatic car when compared to a manual. Automatic cars can need more repairs and also higher repair costs which makes them more expensive to get insured on. This can be a problem if you are a young driver who has just passed their driving test in an automatic car, however, if you have been driving for a long time, you could find that both automatic and manual premiums can be quite similar.  

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