When you’re picking out a new car to lease or buy, one of the decisions you need to make is whether the vehicle will be manual or automatic. There are certainly pros and cons for both, and while some people purchase an automatic and never look back, others love driving a manual. Ultimately, the decision depends on what you’ll be using the car for and what you prefer. This is why we always recommend test driving different types of vehicles before settling on one, just to make sure it’s the right choice for you.

Pros and cons of automatic cars

Unlike manual cars, automatic vehicles don’t have a clutch. Instead, the automatic transmission uses a torque converter, which means you simply need to tell the car whether you want to go forwards, backwards or stay still using the gear stick. So why does this make a difference?

  • Pro: Easier to drive

Automatic cars tend to be easier to drive, which makes them beneficial for people who travel for long distances on a regular basis. You don’t have to worry about clutch control, finding the biting point or what gear you have to be in. Instead, you can put it in ‘drive’ and use the accelerator and the brake to start and stop. You won’t need to use the gear stick again until you want to reverse or park, making traffic jams that much easier to deal with.

  • Pro: Smoother gear changes

An automatic vehicle will change gear for you when the revolutions per minute (RPM) reach a certain level. This makes for a better transition between gears, offering a smoother and more comfortable drive.

  • Pro: No more stalling

Once the car is in ‘drive’, all you need to do is put your foot on the accelerator and the car will provide enough torque to make sure you never stall.

  • Con: More expensive

Generally, automatic vehicles are more expensive because of the additional parts involved in the automatic gearbox, so be prepared to pay a little bit extra for the pros listed above. It also means that if something were to go wrong with your automatic car, it may be more expensive to fix.

  • Con: Less exciting to drive

Sometimes, the excitement of driving a car comes with changing gears and the satisfaction you get from this. With an automatic, you’re not as in control of the vehicle as you may be with a manual.

Pros and cons of manual cars

  • Pro: Greater control

A manual gearbox allows you to have more control of your car. For example, you can drop a gear if you need more power, choose which gear you want to be in and even skip a gear. All of this can be controlled by you and not by the vehicle.

  • Pro: Speed

Automatic cars tend to be naturally slower than their manual counterparts. This is generally to do with the automatic gear changes and the fact that the car changes gear at a lower RPM. With a manual, you can take the RPM higher if you wish to speed up faster.

  • Pro: Cheaper to purchase

Manual vehicles are cheaper to purchase than automatics and generally require less maintenance. Also, due to their popularity (manuals in the UK are more popular than automatics), parts tend to be cheaper and more readily available.

  • Pro: Fuel efficiency

It’s thought that you can get more miles per gallon out of a manual than you can an automatic vehicle. This means a manual could cost less to run and is also better for the environment, particularly if it’s a petrol model.

  • Con: Taxing to drive in traffic

Being stuck in traffic and crawling along in first gear generally requires lots of clutch work to ensure you don’t stall the vehicle. Every time you come to a stop, the clutch must go to the floor and to start up again, the clutch needs to come up slowly. Doing this for long periods of time can be difficult and even result in leg or foot ache.

Should I get a manual or automatic?

Whether you choose to lease a manual or an automatic car depends on your circumstances and your preferences. If you’d prefer to have more control over the vehicle and don’t mind changing gear frequently, then a manual is the car for you.

If, however, you drive long distances regularly and would prefer the easier, smoother ride that an automatic can offer, maybe you should consider one of those instead.

Before making the decision, you should test drive a few vehicles to see which one is right for you. It may be that you instantly get a feel for one over the other and test driving is always recommended before making a big decision or purchase.