Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

Indian consumers are quickly shifting their buying preference to automatic cars. While manual transmission vehicles still rule the market, the automatics are gaining major momentum. Both manual and automatic transmission-equipped vehicles have their pros and cons. We bring you the situations where each of this transmission works the best.


Commuting daily in painstakingly slow city traffic

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

If you use your car majorly for daily commuting and have to negotiate through heavy traffic, automatics can be a saviour. Driving and automatic only needs your right foot. Getting stuck in traffic in an automatic vehicle can be much less annoying than a manual car.

Almost all the modern day automatics including the AMTs come with creep function. The function has been purposefully developed for the heavy traffic situation. With the creep function, you only need to release the brake pedal, and the car starts to creep forward slowly.

Do not want to spend time on learning to drive

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

Driving an automatic is much simpler than driving a stick shift. The automatic cars only get a brake pedal and an accelerator. There is no need to change gears. If you do not want to spend an enormous amount of time learning to control three pedals and one stick simultaneously, automatic transmission is the answer.

AMTs also give you the same flexibility. By learning driving in the automatic cars, novices can focus more on the road. Learning in manual transmissions divides the attention between the clutch and the stick and the road, and this makes the learners very nervous. Learning in manual cars also induces the fear of car stalling which can be discouraging to the newbies.

Negotiating inclines

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

If you stay in an area that has a lot of inclines, then automatics can be your best buddy. Automatics come with hill-hold that stops the vehicle from rolling backwards if you come to a complete halt on an incline. Negotiating steep inclines on a manual need some skills.

While this feature can be very useful for people who drive or live around hilly terrain, going downhill in an automatic car can be tricky. Unless the automatic car has the hill descent feature, you will have to apply brakes constantly while coming downhill to keep the speed in check. In AMTs, the driver will have to use the handbrake on inclines, similar to the manual cars.

Accelerate quickly when traffic signal turns green

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

Dual-clutch automatic cars quicker than the manuals. There is no need of lifting your foot while accelerating in an automatic vehicle. The automatic transmission can provide power without a break while changing gear ratios. Even if you’re driving in manual mode or controlling the gears with paddle shifters, you need not worry about lifting your foot from the throttle. This is not valid for the AMTs where the engine cuts power whenever the gear change happens.

Looking for comfortable rides without any jerk

If you do not want to know whenever the car’s gear shifts, automatics are the way to go. CVT, DCT and Torque converters change the gears without any jerk to the occupants. If comfort and smoothness are your main concerns, the automatic transmission will be the best choice. While the same can be done in manual cars too but it takes years to practice, and it is quite difficult to pull off jerk-less shifts every time.

Manual Transmissions

Want easy and cheap maintenance

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

Manual transmission uses much simpler technology that is remarkably cheaper and easier to maintain than the automatic transmission. Even the regular fluid changes cost more for the automatic transmissions when compared to the manuals.

Also, the automatic transmission has numerous moving parts that work in synchronisation to give you a smoother shift. A higher number of parts mean higher chances of parts are failing. The manual transmission is also more reliable than the automatics. However, the clutch wears less in automatic transmission than a manual transmission, but the brakes wear off quicker.

Want more engaging driving experience

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

Manual transmission cars do not have a mind of its own that will take care of the clutch. The driver gets complete freedom to slip the clutch, engage the clutch, use toe-heel shift method and a lot more. It is like doing a three-pedal dance, and you can experiment a lot while using the manual transmission. Manual transmission drivers get a lot more engaged experience.

Even a lot of automatic cars come with paddle shifters that let you take charge of the gear change, but it is still not engaging enough without the control over clutch. Automatic cars also do not allow engine braking, which is essential to bring the car to stop quickly and while negotiating downhills.

Want a cheaper vehicle

Manual transmission cars are cheaper than the automatics to buy and maintain. If you have a limited budget and see the advantages in a manual car, then look no further. Manuals can be extremely fun to drive once you get used to them and will save you a lot of money in the process.

Want the best fuel efficiency

Automatic vs manual, which works better where? We explain

Automatics transmissions consist of more moving parts than the manuals. There is a lot more power loss in the automatic vehicles than the manual cars. The power loss translates into higher fuel consumption. The manual variants of the same car are more fuel efficient than the automatic versions. However, there are a few exceptions. AMTs generally provide same fuel efficiency as their manual counterparts.

Easier to fix

Automatics are complex systems with microchips, hydraulics and sensors that need specialised training for repairs. On the other hand, almost all the manual transmission have similar components and functionality. Manual transmissions can be fixed quickly and easily while the automatics will take a lot more time. Even a good roadside mechanic will be able to fix manual transmission in the time of need while the automatics will have to be towed back to the service centres.