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Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission

Last Modified: Fri, Apr 29 2016.
Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission

  • Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission
  • Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission
  • Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission
  • Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission

With the onset of so many AT (and other derived technologies, like AMT) cars in Indian market, one of the question that comes to the mind of a perspective buyer is, which one should I chose and why? Also, is the cost differential worth the comfort or improvements I'll end up getting?

Before we answer that question, let's take a quick look at the two technologies and understand the pros & cons of both

Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission

Manual Transmission

  • Lower Initial Cost of car
  • Better Fuel mileage
  • Lower Maintenance Cost*
    *Caveat: Depends on driver's capability of efficient gear change. Typically clutch plate replacement is seen as a major cost in case of not so good drivers
  • More Sporty as gear are manually controlled
  • Less comfortable & tiresome, especially if you are driving in heavy traffic
  • Slightly difficult to learn, if you are a new learner (need to manage clutch along with accelerator)
Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission

Automatic Transmission
(No Clutch, torque converter transfers power from engine to gearbox)

  • Very comfortable to drive, absence of clutch makes life much easier, especially in high traffic zones
  • Easy to drive uphill, as it eliminates struggle of effectively managing gears
  • Expensive than manual
  • Higher transmission losses, mean comparatively lower mileage
  • Higher maintenance requirement, potentially higher costs
  • Let down for enthusiasts who want to rev the engine!

What we are also seeing are some midway solutions, which provide the comfort of "AT" at a cost, closer to Manual transmission.

Automatic Manual Transmission - Manual transmission car in which the operation of the clutch and the gear changing is done automatically with the help of a computerized electro-hydraulic mechanism An AMT car will not have a clutch (clutch function is electronically controlled) and the gear lever will only have the options of Neutral, Reverse and Forward. There is also the control to upshift or downshift the gear manually with the +/- option.

Automatic Transmission vs. Manual Transmission

Automatic Manual Transmission -

  • Comfortable to drive, absence of driver controlled clutch makes life much easier
  • Option to drive in automatic or intelligent manual drive; easier to drive uphill, but need to do that in Manual mode
  • Mileage at par or even better than MT
  • Similar maintenance costs
  • Not so smooth acceleration; slightly jerky
  • Let down for enthusiasts; as you have to shift from AT to MT and then change gears
  • Higher upfront cost

Other transmission system includes Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) and Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT)

Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)

DCT has two separate gearboxes with each one having its own clutch. Clutch '1' is connected to the odd numbered gears 1, 3, 5 and 7 and clutch '2' is connected the even gears 2, 4 and 6

Pros:

  • Car doesn't slow down between gear shifts, steady acceleration of the car starting from standstill
  • Improves the mileage of the car and gives more Kilometers per Liter, better than that of a manual car

Cons:

  • Expensive, so only seen in premium or luxury cars

Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT)

CVTdoes not have gears at all. The gear reduction in this case is with a set of belt drives. CVT is one of the best types of Automatic gear transmission system for a car and gives better fuel mileage than other automatic transmissions. In fact the fuel economy in a CVT automatic car is better than same model manual cars.

Downside, again being more expensive to purchase and own

While full AT has its own advantages, it make the car expensive by upward of 50-60K, and AMT by 30-50K and that's just in upfront costs. If you are driver looking purely at comfort of city driving, then you can opt for either of these two options, whereas if you are a car enthusiast who wants to derive pleasure out of driving, then better stick to the good old MT

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