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How to choose between Manual and Automatic transmission

How to choose between Manual and Automatic transmission

Snapshot: While the Automatic transmission is a big hit outside India, we are still handing to the manual gearbox. But the trend is changing rapidly.

Over the years, there has been a visible difference between the driving habits of Indians as compared to the rest of the world, which ultimately influences the buying habits too. Hence, the majority of the cars sold in India are manual in nature, while the rest of the world mostly relies on the automatic transmissions. In India, the automatic transmission was introduced quite early, but was limited to high-end luxury cars only. This trend is shifting rapidly as more and more people are opting for automatic transmission even in the budget segments. But this alone can't be the reason for you to opt for an automatic transmission over a manual one.

So what all factors should influence your choice between the manual and AT gearbox, we tell you here!

Understand the basics

It's very essential to understand the basics of an automatic transmission, its types and how it works to compare it with a manual gearbox. Like a manual gearbox, where more gears means smoother ride quality at higher gears, automatic gearbox too has number of gears in it, resulting in the same output as the manual gearbox - more the gears, more the speed and hence, smoother ride quality at the higher gears. The only difference is, an automatic gearbox doesn't come with a clutch pedal, and hence called the 2-pedal technology.

Different types of transmissions

It's extremely important to understand what are the various types of automatic gearboxes and how do they differ from each other as well as a manual transmission before reaching to any conclusion. If the budget is in your mind, the AMT would suit you, if performance is on your mind, dual clutch automatic (DSG) would suit you. So, the understanding of gearboxes type and functionality will help you a great deed.  

Consider power

Ever heard an auto enthusiast buying an automatic gearbox? Probably not, because automatic can't match a manual gearbox in terms of the performance. But then again, you have to be a hardcore enthusiast to understand this variation, which is usually minor in most of the cars. The manual gearbox has many advantages to automatic gearbox including acceleration and power. And the reason is simpler than you will ever think.

Consider this example - say your car has an output of 100 PS @ 5000 rpm and your car has a 5-speed manual gearbox. In this case, you have an option to push the car till 5000 rpm to extract the maximum power out of your car, which is 100 PS. Subsequently, if you have a 5-speed automatic gearbox, it will upshift the gear before reaching 5000 rpm, to honor the gear ratio your car has to offer. Hence, you won't be able to extract the full power from the car.

Consider semi-automatic transmission

A semi-automatic gearbox is nothing but an automatic gearshift, that can be changed to manual gearbox when needed. But, you can't use the clutch in the manual model too, as the gearbox is primarily an automatic one, and only allows the driver to select the rev range, through manual shifting of the lever. There's also an additional Sports mode in some of the semi-automatic gearbox, which enables a high bandwidth of rpm while pushing the car, so that the gear doesn't automatically shifts. Many of the high-end cars are now offering pedal shifts on the steering wheel, to anyone who wants to drive manually and wants to shift gears like a racer.

Fuel economy is an issue

If you are someone whose only aim for buying a car is to get the maximum efficiency, better stick to the manual gearbox. But this too has a catch as more and more advancements mean lesser the difference and in some cases, even reverse output. AMT, or automated manual transmission, is the most budget friendly forms of the automatic transmission and is essentially a manual gearbox without a clutch. What it essentially does is replaces the clutch with a device that shifts the gears automatically, but provides better efficiency, since no clutch being used. Rest all automatics, be it with a torque converter or a CVT are not as good as a manual in case of mileage.

Identify your needs

While India is still manual transmission driven, mostly due to the cost factor, there are various reasons that will not let you buy a manual gearbox. One of the reasons why some can't go for a manual gearbox can be their physical handicap condition. An automatic eliminates the use of a leg completely and hence, it's good for handicap people. Also, city traffic can be a driving force for your decision as using a clutch repeatedly can cause pain in your legs. Some may be performance driven and may not opt for an automatic, no matter how easy it to drive.

Easy to learn

Last but not the least is the fact that the automatic gearbox is easy to learn and operate. This is the reason many opt for an automatic gearbox, since they can't do multitasking like concentrate on keeping the car on track, shifting the gears on time, and road hazards. The automatic gear eliminates the concentration needed on clutch and gearbox and you need to know is handling and braking.

Here's more How-To articles to make you a perfect driver!

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