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Manual Vs Automatic Transmission – How to choose the right car?

Manual Vs Automatic

One of the more often asked questions in the automobile world is whether to choose manual or automatic transmission, when buying a car. Which is better? What should I go for? As with everything else there’s no one right answer.

If you ask real auto enthusiasts, then the manual gearbox is always preferred over automatic. Manual shift is much more involving than an automatic transmission and gives you more control over your machine. That is the reason the Formula 1 cars have 7 gears!! An automatic, on the other hand, is preferred for ease of driving without having to worry about shifting gears. If you are stuck driving a manual shift on a congested road during peak hour traffic, you would understand the pain of shifting gears.

However, a smarter way to look at this is to see which is better in each class of car and for what reason.

Small Hatchbacks

In this class, where the overall price plays a crucial part, the manual wins for one simple reason – it’s cheaper than it’s automatic counterpart. Manual also gives the best economy and lower maintenance is required compared to automatic. However, almost every car in this class nowadays offers an automatic option. Examples: The AMT Maruti Celerio LXi is nearly Rs 50,000 more than it’s manual counterpart.

Compact Sedans

This class has varying results as in some cars, performance is better with an automatic, like the Ford Figo and in some cars, the manual gearbox comes a winner, like the Hyundai i20. This type of car is generally a second car – a car used for the school run or the grocery run. Automatic definitely suits this type of car as it is easier to operate and is less trouble. Women who self-drive should choose the automatic in this class, as it makes the driving experience more comfortable and hassle-free.

Mid-Size Sedans

Here again, automatic or manual depends on your perspective. You may get a less expensive car which has a good automatic gearbox like the Maruti Ciaz or you may get a more-expensive-but-better-manual option like the Volkswagen Vento. So here it is the user’s comfort and preference that matters.

Compact SUVs

This segment is the most robust and active in the Indian market as of now and this segment is better suited to manual as it has better fuel economy. Most of the compact SUVs have diesel engines, which is focused on better fuel economy and it will make sense to go with the manual option which gives that which also requires relatively lesser maintenance.

MPVs

This might be contrary to popular opinion but automatic is the way to go in this category of Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV). Big and bold bestsellers like the Toyota Innova need an automatic box as they are designed for one thing – moving lots of people in style and comfort. MPVs used as taxis might prefer the manual version for fuel economy and diesel options, but if it is for personal use, then automatic is certainly favourable.

Luxury Sedans

You might as well try to get an automatic gearbox in your Mercedes Benz S-class or BMW 7 series or Audi A8 because they don’t come with a manual gearbox. A manual gearbox in these big limo sized cars would make it extremely difficult to manoeuvre. As an option, you do get a gearshift paddles on the steering wheel that act as a manual shift for the automatic gearbox in these cars.

SUVs

Choose manual in these only if you are really keen on shifting gears but in general, choose automatic as these machines are heavy and big and one would find it difficult to steer these big cars.

Quick guide to choose Manual Vs Automatic gears for various categories of cars

Quick guide to choose Manual Vs Automatic gears for various categories of cars

Earlier, it was generally true that vehicles with manual transmissions would be more fuel-efficient than their automatic counterparts. But as technology becomes more advanced and automatic transmission gaining additional gears, they are often now on par or even better than manuals in terms of fuel economy. Since comfort is a given in automatics, choose automatic if you are not price conscious and if you are self-driving.

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