There is an issue in the driving world that is so taboo, so illicit and fraught with controversy that by merely posing the following question I might face immediate arrest and be marched straight to the gulag.
The question is… which is better, Manual or Automatic?
It is such a moral quandary because there are legitimate upshots and downsides to choosing either. A manual gearbox is traditionally better at transferring power from your engine to your wheels, so you can accelerate at a faster pace, but they can be more difficult to learn in and changing gears takes up more focus than an automatic. Whereas Automatics offer a smoother ride but are often more expensive.
Interestingly, during the first 9 months of 2020, Automatics made up 54% of new-car sales, breaking the 50% barrier for the first time ever, and this momentum does not appear to be slowing. According to The Guardian, by May 2021, UK drivers had bought 232’000, which is a tenfold increase over five years. So it seems that the decision between manual and automatic cars might be made for us in years to come, as people become more eco-savvy and interested in driving hybrids and electric cars, the majority of which have automatic transmission.
I wasn’t even sure there were automatic driving lessons in Newbury and opted for the caveman’s favourite: the faithful gearstick. I reasoned that I would have more choice of motors if I learned in a manual car and had the freedom to transition later down the line if I wanted.