Automatic transmissions have come a long way from being a rarity to being generic. Automatic transmission vs Manual transmission is one question that every buyer asks themselves before taking the plunge. We discuss the pros and cons associated with both to make your choice more effortless.
The old grey days were filled with conventional automatic transmissions having three or four ratios to play with and shifting speeds which could give geriatric people competition. Now, 6 out of 10 cars you see on the road will be an automatic having more than enough gears to fiddle around with shifting speeds relatable to the blink of an eye. Technology and science have caught up while we were asleep and its growing at an even alarming pace that we are looking at electric cars anytime soon. There are mainly three different types of automatics: AMT, CVT, and Torque Converters. Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) is the cheapest of the lot, which is available with entry-level hatchbacks and sedans in India and other developing countries. As the name suggests, it is not a full-blown conventional automatic transmission. AMT is basically a manual transmission which offers the convenience of an automatic. AMT is not an automatic transmission, whereas it has an automatic clutch. It was a brilliant marketing move by Maruti Suzuki India with the introduction of AMT as a fuel-efficient automatic followed by various other brands. CVT is the acronym for Continuously Variable Transmission which is mainly used in much more expensive cars. CVT is preferred for its smooth operation and fuel economy gains but is not preferred for performance-oriented cars due to its rubber-band effect. A Torque Converter is the most common type of automatic gearbox which uses a fluid coupling mechanism, which also happens to double the torque output of the engine. Dual Clutch Transmission is one of the fastest shifting gearboxes available in India. Dual Clutch Transmission consists of two clutches as opposed to one. One clutch preselects a gear, while the other one initiates the gear, making the whole process as brisk as possible. Dual Clutch Transmissions can change gears much faster than an average human.
Convenience and practicality is the main forte of automatic transmissions and is the main reason why they are advancing with time. Automatic transmissions now come with hill hold assist which is a boon for the less experienced drivers in inclined road conditions. Stalling a car cannot be associated with automatic cars as automatic cars make do without a clutch. Modern-day automatics with dual clutches are found to be faster than an average human, an unfortunate and sad reason why the motorsport field is relying upon quick-shifting automatics.
Fuel efficiency takes a minor hit with automatic transmissions, but the difference is decreasing as we speak. Automatic transmission provides less control over the vehicle when compared to a manual transmission as an automatic transmission selects a gear with respect to different variables monitored by it (Many automatic transmissions today come with manual control in the form of paddle shifters and triptronics which can be used as a manual transmission without a clutch). Technology does not come cheap, cars with an automatic transmission are generally more expensive. Even though modern-day automatic transmissions are found to be reliable, they still cannot match the bulletproof reliability that is bought to the table by the manual transmissions.
Manuals have been along since the advent of automobiles but are becoming a rarity today. Driving a manual car requires even more practice and skill. It is just the steering along with the accelerator and brakes in an automatic, while the manual adds a third pedal to the pedal box – the clutch. Automatics, although convenient cannot hold a candle against a short-shifting manual gearbox or an old school gate shifted manual gearbox. A dog-legged gearbox is what wet dreams look like for us genuine petrol heads. Modern day automatics have come a long way with dual clutch transmissions, the likes of PDK and DSG, which shift even faster and better than a human can. Buying a car with more than 300 Hp with a manual gearbox is an anomaly these days. Manual gearbox makes you sweat for it, rewards you, and involves you in the process, rather than making you look like you have come along for the ride.
Manuals are less expensive to purchase compared to the much more advanced automatics. A Manual transmission is less complex and weighs less, which aids fuel economy. Manual transmissions are much more reliable than automatic transmissions as there are not many electrical or mechatronic components associated with it. Manual transmissions provide better control over a car as the driver can decide upon the gear best suited for the occasion. Manual transmissions are much more involving to drive and rewarding at the same time.
Driving a manual transmission for a long time in heavy traffic can be arduous, it can lead to more stress and fatigue spoiling the whole driving experience. Manual transmissions take more time to get used to for new drivers; risk of stalling and hill starts are some of the added cons that inexperienced drivers face.
At the end of the day, picking one is purely subjective and depends upon ones needs. The Manual transmission is more suited for someone who loves to drive and get involved in the process, while an Automatic transmission is best suited for effortless daily driving and newbie drivers.