Automatic or manual gearbox? Which option is better?

Although in Spain we are used to vehicles with manual transmission, those that offer automatic transmission are increasingly present. If you are one of those who is tired of stepping on the clutch and changing gears, it may be a good alternative.


According to data from 2017, of the vehicles that circulated in Spain in that year, 80% of them fitted a manual gearbox, while the remaining 20% ​​fitted an automatic gearbox. Data diametrically opposed to the United States, in which manual transmission maintains a residual market share and which, according to experts, will end up disappearing in a short time. Something that has to do with the country’s tradition and also with the high power and cubic capacity of its engines, even the utility ones, to which is added the presence of the electric car, which generally has automatic transmission.

This approach leads the user to wonder if it is really worth forgetting the clutch and making the leap to the engine with automatic transmission or if it still deserves that extra control that the automatic system gives us when driving. Especially considering the arrival of vehicles with Start and Stop systems, which also modify this way of driving.


Knowing the two systems

To begin with, it is necessary to know what we are talking about when we refer to the automatic and manual transmission. By the way, in both cases it is still necessary to have the best clutch inside the gearbox, since the main difference lies in the way the gears are changed, but this does not affect the elements present in the transmission.

There is not much to tell about the manual transmission. It is a system activated and managed directly by the driver, who proceeds to make gear changes when he understands that these are necessary according to the circumstances and the driving style. To do this, the driver depresses the clutch pedal to release the transmission and proceeds to choose the gear he wants to drive in the gearbox, using the corresponding lever.

For its part, the automatic transmission eliminates this need for human intervention and independently manages the way in which the gears are positioned. In this case, the user only has to choose the position of the lever depending on what he needs (parking, urban traffic or road traffic) and the gearbox takes care of everything. As the driver accelerates or brakes, the gearbox shifts into gear, automatically engaging the clutch, and making gear selection on the gearbox.




Advantages and disadvantages of manual boxes

Manual boxes have always had a number of considerable advantages over automatic ones. Most of them have to do with the control of the vehicle, so it is the user who decides what to start and use and what level of revolutions to give the engine at all times. Something interesting to save fuel, better manage circulation and also to have a better feeling while driving. What is not possible to do in automatic boxes.

On the downside, manual gearbox clutches suffer the most, because there is always a time when the pedal gets badly depressed, we put our foot down, and we make other mistakes that shorten the life of the gearbox. We also have the disadvantage of always having to be attentive to driving to change gears, which can be somewhat annoying if you have to make a lot of changes, as happens in urban driving.


Advantages and disadvantages of automatic cashiers

The main advantage of the automatic box is that we can forget about it. Once we are rolling we do not have to step on anything or touch the lever, since it automatically takes care of everything. Something that is also linked to greater technology and a more advanced approach to the engine, such as that found in the Start and Stop systems or what includes emergency braking, which are already common in modern vehicles. On the other hand, these boxes are having an increasingly lively behavior, compared to the flat operation of older automatic boxes, adapting to all types of vehicles. Let us remember that previously only high-end vehicles carried these boxes while now they are increasingly popular.

In the part of the disadvantages we have two. The main one is the cost of its maintenance, since the clutch moves automatically through a large number of electronic elements, which require more intense care than a normal clutch, which hardly requires maintenance. They also have a higher fuel consumption, although this problem is becoming less due to the greater technology of the boxes. And as for the sensations, despite the advances mentioned, they are still lower in these automatic boxes.




The future

At this point, we can be more or less clear if we prefer a car with a gear lever and traditional clutch or one with an automatic transmission that does everything for us. The problem is that the market is the one that will finally pass judgment. A sentence that will condemn vehicles with manual boxes to disappearance.

The explanation is simple. If we see the models that are coming new to the market, most already have versions with automatic boxes, which is proof of the prevalence of this system. Something even more remarkable in electric vehicles, which do not have a manual gearbox but an automatic one, these models being what will establish the modality of the future. 

This is also helped by the improvement in these automatic transmission systems, with technologies such as the DSG robotic transmission system offered by Volkswagen. These technologies maintain the old manual gear feel, when it comes to engine vibrancy, so they will help with this transition. So the time of manual boxes, except for a sharp market turn, is counted.



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