Few industries adapt as rapidly as the motoring sector. Dependent on the latest in technology and under the control of various government schemes and regulations, what and how we drive seems to be constantly changing.
But one discussion that has stayed at the forefront for many years is the debate between manual and automatic cars. To look into the pros and cons of both vehicle types, Pass ‘N’ Go, which provides driving lessons in Sunderland and throughout the UK, has investigated what the future might hold for the gear stick.
What is the current situation with automatic cars?
Whatever you might think about automatic vehicles, they appear to be on the rise in the UK. Research carried out by Contract Hire and Leasing and reported by Car Keys shows that we are now seeing many more vehicles with automatic gearboxes on UK roads. Close to 650,000 new cars with automatic gearboxes were registered in Britain in 2016 — a rise of 55% when compared to figures recorded just three years previously. What’s more, 45% of all new car enquiries throughout the country are for vehicles which are designed with automatic gearboxes.
What do experts in the field think about this trend? Mike Best, head of sales at Contract Hire and Leasing, said: “New automatic transmissions are extremely intelligent. It’s now common to see seven- and even nine-speed automatic transmissions, such as the Mercedes-Benz 9G-tronic. They enable smooth, efficient driving at low revs, therefore burning far less fuel and reducing emissions.”
Plus, it seems that automatics are flying ahead of manuals when it comes to the environment. Mike added: “Manuals often create bad driving habits such as over-revving, riding the clutch and using the wrong gear. These are things that cause wear-and-tear, as well as increase fuel consumption and emissions.”
Learning to drive
Despite a rising tendency to go for automatic cars, it’s clear that most of us are still learning to handle the roads in manual vehicles. An investigation conducted and reported by The Telegraph found that only around 40,000 out of 720,000 driving tests taken by learner drivers in the UK were conducted in cars with an automatic gearbox.
Evidently, this has a lot to do with future restrictions. For example; if you obtain a full driver’s licence after passing your driving test in a manual car, you will be able to drive vehicles with both automatic and manual gearboxes. On the flip side, learn to drive in an automatic vehicle and you will not be entitled to drive a manual car.
Automatic cars: the advantages
So, what are the main differences between manuals and automatics, and should you be considering a switch? It certainly seems that automatic vehicles have multiple motoring benefits that are worth considering. In fact, many supercars, such as Ferraris, don’t even offer manual gearboxes due to lack of demand!
The first advantage pertains to the driving experience, with automatic cars reportedly offering a simpler and more relaxed time behind the wheel. One study revealed that the heart rate of drivers in an automatic car was similar to that of a passenger! For the environmentally conscious drivers, these cars are more fuel efficient than manual cars, too.
However, it’s not all good news for automatics, with expense being a big disadvantage of the automatic sector. Research has also suggested that automatic drivers are less attentive, due to the fact they don’t need to concentrate on driving as much as in a manual vehicle, which has the potential to be dangerous if true.
Manual cars: the advantages
Automatic cars clearly have their bonuses, but how do manual cars fare? Some claim that a manual vehicle offers more control of the vehicle. For example, when travelling along a slippery road or approaching an obstacle, a driver can use the brake and change gear accordingly in a manual car. Another advantage is cost, as manual cars are often cheaper than automatic vehicles.
If you had to find a common negative trait of manual cars, you’d possibly go for level of engagement. Although it’s often a good thing to have maximum control, manual cars can get tiresome to drive — especially during rush hour, when you must constantly hold down the clutch and change gear.
The difference in insurance premiums for manual and automatic cars
Now we’ve gone over what these motors are like to drive, it’s time to look at how easy and cheap they are to insure.
Overall, it appears that those on the hunt for low-cost insurance should go for manual cars. According to research conducted by Admiral, the average premium to insure an automatic car was 5.63% higher due to the increased cost of claims from that type of vehicle and the claim frequency. They also found that the average premium for drivers with an automatic licence was a huge 43.89% higher than drivers who held a full licence.
Essentially, which car you want to drive is down to personal preference. However, it’d be wise to learn with a full licence and leave your options open for which car you would like to purchase later!