Are UK Drivers Learning to Love the Automatic Car?

May 31, 2023

When you’re investing in a car, you might have a large number of criteria to consider. But among the more practical considerations is the type of transmission you favour. If you’re driving a car that changes gear automatically, then you’ll have a very different driving experience than the one you’d have in a manual.

In recent years, automatic cars have gotten a little more sophisticated – to the point that many British motorists are shying away from manual transmission altogether. So, to what can we attribute this trend? And what sort of transmission should you favour?

Automatic Vs Manual

In a manual, you’ll be changing gears yourself, manually. In an automatic, this happens automatically. So far, so obvious. The automatic tends to be easier to drive, and it offers a smoother ride, since the transitions between gears are seamless. If you’re frequently stopping and starting in gridlocked traffic, then automatics will save you the trouble of having to regularly depress the clutch.

Finally, we should consider that you can pass an ‘automatic’ version of the driving test and be qualified just to drive automatics. This might make the whole process much easier, especially if you never intend to drive anything else.

On the other hand, manuals have historically tended to be more affordable. Your money can therefore go further. Plus, they offer you more control over your experience, and more thrills along the way. If you go from driving a manual to driving an automatic, then you might be surprised at how much psychological distance is suddenly put between you and the vehicle you’re driving.

How automatic cars have advanced

In recent years, automatics have improved substantially. They are more affordable than ever, both in terms of the amount you pay up-front, and the amount you pay at the pump. If you are looking to purchase an automatic but your budget won’t allow it, consider opting for a used car, where savings can be made on a range of cars including high-end vehicles such as the used Audi A3 or BMW 3 series.

We should also think about the burgeoning market for battery electric vehicles. Since electric vehicles don’t have a gearbox, they don’t require gear changes, so you might put them in the same category as an automatic.

The demand for automatic is rising

There are several reasons to suspect that demand for automatics is on the rise. Firstly, we’ve seen an increase in the number of automatic driver’s license holders. Now, three in ten learners are building their skills without changing gears. We’ve also seen a rise in search volume for automatic driving lessons.

Around half of the people who learn to drive in an automatic are under 35, so we might conclude that these drivers have an eye on the future. If the motoring world is soon going to go electric, then is there any real point in learning to use a stick shift?


I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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