Want to have the convenience of an automatic transmission (AT) or enjoy the drive experience of a conventional manual transmission (MT) in your new car. Confused? We help you decide.
A couple of years ago, while buying car aspects like size/segment, fuel type, cabin features were a point of discussion. However, these days, besides the aforesaid traits you also have to settle upon a gearbox pick between manual or automatic transmission.
Today for many buyers, the selection between an automatic transmission (AT) and manual transmission (MT) has become no less than a catch-22 situation. Currently, the demand for AT has witnessed a strong surge due to which even the desi off-roader SUV like the 2020 Mahindra Thar is offered with an AT gearbox alternative.
The number of manually driven cars in the western countries is negligible, while in India too, the inclination towards automatic gearbox is soaring all-time high. That’s the reason more and more cars irrespective of the segment are being offered with a choice of AT alongside the traditional MT.
Therefore if you are confused as to which transmission choice would suit your needs, you should first know the merits and demerits of both. And keeping in mind the same should make an informed decision that is beneficial for you.
So, let’s check out some vital aspects that will clear your perplexity associated with the two gearboxes and facilitate your pick.
Manual Transmission v/s Automatic Transmission
Keeping aside the conclusion first understand how different and how convenient manual transmission (MT) and automatic transmission (AT) are.
Starting with AT, due to no gear choice, you won’t find any clutch pedal in a car featuring an automatic gearbox. Hence, no hassles, just straightforward transmission, which reads P (Park), R (Reverse), N (Neutral) and D (Drive). Meanwhile, the MT driven cars receive five of more number of gears including a reverse gear allowing you to change the gears at your will and need.
With an automatic gearbox, you leave the selection of gears to the ‘automatic’ or programmed gearbox that picks the best possible gear for the car. Thus, on the move i.e. D (drive mode), the driver only has to think about when to apply R (reverse), P (stop/park) or N (idle/neutral).
On the other hand, with a manual transmission gearbox changing of gears is done physically by hand during driving. Depending upon the drive on uncertain surfaces during escapades or long route trips with smooth tarmac you can change gears as per your requirement. The frequent changing of gears could be fun during an adventure, however a nightmarish experience under stop and go traffic in an urban environ.
With MT you have to constantly change gears every now and then, which makes driving no less than suffering. Here automatic gearbox comes to the rescue and provides a breather, thanks to the self-changing of gears.
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Transmission Selection Under MT and AT
On one hand, the automatic transmission offers several avatars, while the manual gearbox is left to a single option. Depending upon the car segment and class various sorts of automatic transmission gearboxes perform their duties. Different AT mechanisms include the likes of Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT), direct-shift gearbox (DSG) and the very trending single automated clutches also known as the automated manual transmission (AMT).
Again, you must be in a fix, as to which type of AT to select? Well, all the given automatic gearbox variants are not available on every car. They are solely subjected to the selection of the car segment you choose as per your budget. Most mass segment cars in India today offer AMT choice, while with premium and performance cars DSG or CVT is offered, which works well on long routes.
So if you are a long-distance buff, DSG/CVT is the way to go for butter-smooth transmission and pliant driving pleasure. Albeit in India as most car buyers aim for budget cars, they go for AMT-choice over any other gearbox.
Power and Acceleration
If you frequently navigate through different types of surfaces like plain tarmac, muddy surfaces or rocky roads and also prefer performance drives, stick to the manual gearbox. However, if you fight your way out through daily city traffic picking AMT is sane. Remember, if performance is considered MT has an upper hand over the AT.
On the western roads, manual gearboxes are a rarity and automatic leads the way. However in India due to costly automatic-driven car models, the switch is steady but is advancing at a good pace, compared to manual gearbox. Therefore, if the difference in the price of manual and automatic don’t burn a hole in your pocket select AMT over MT.
Learning is easy
Owing to minimal multitasking, the automatic car variants are popular among Indian millennials. Many new car buyers are new to driving also, hence they prefer a car that could be operated with the least required skills, which is where automatics pitch in. As it is easy to learn and operate, courtesy freedom from shifting of gears at various speeds, maintaining driving consistency and keeping an eye on the roadside undulations. You merely need to bother about manoeuvring and braking. The automatics also makes learning to drive car easy for many against the manually driven gearbox.
Fuel economy differs
Shifting of gears at the ‘right’ moment results in better fuel mileage and superior ride quality. But most of the times that ‘right’ moment is missed due to recurrent back and forth of gears in MT cars while driving in traffic-ridden conditions. Hence, you let the programmed gearbox to work for you and switch to the optimal gear as needed at different speeds. With the ‘right’ moment checked the fuel efficiency increases. Thus you end up with more fuel savings with AT compared to MT during city drives.
To sum up, being a city dweller and a daily commuter you spend a lot on fuel and also look for stress-free driving, so opting for automatic should be your automatic choice. Whereas, if majority of your tasks involve long route drives manual gearbox will deliver you higher fuel efficiency.
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