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  • Writer's pictureSimon Harrison

What’s the difference between a manual and an automatic car?

You will discover that most cars are available in both manual and automatic versions, but what’s the difference? 

You will also find that many manufacturers are offering their automatic models in electric and / or hybrid versions too. You won't however find a manual version of an electric or hybrid car.

So basically when you compare an automatic against a manual, it’s down to the gearbox. With a manual car, you’ll have to change gears yourself with the aid of a clutch and gear stick, while an automatic car changes gears by itself, depending on the speed you are travelling, rate of acceleration and revs.

When comparing the function of automatic and manual manual cars you will find that an automatic has just two pedals - the accelerator and brake. Where as the manual has a gear stick and a third pedal to operate the clutch. Because of these extra components, manual cars are more difficult to learn to drive in than automatic.  However once you have mastered your clutch control and gears it becomes a natural thing to do and is the most common choise of car and to buy and learn to drive in in the UK. 

Learners who choose to learn to drive in a manual car will also experience some form of stalling when trying to operate or manage the clutch which is something that they will need to master.

However, many drivers also feel that manual transmission cars are more fun to drive, and they give the driver more control over their cars performance on the road.

Automatic cars are seen to be easier to drive, as you don’t have to worry about clutch control or using a gear stick. However someone who has mastered a manual car may have other opinions on this and driving an automatic for the first time can be an unnerving experience. For those who find manual cars hard to learn in they tend to turn to learning in an automatic car which usually helps them overcome their problems.

However, learning in an automatic comes with its own drawbacks. If you pass your driving test with an automatic car, you’re only legally be allowed to drive automatic cars. Learning to drive with a manual transmission on the other hand means your licence will allow you to drive both manual and automatic cars. Giving you more options for cars you can drive and purchase. Driving lessons are also typically more expensive if you’re learning with an automatic compared to a manual.

Another thing to consider is that the pass rates for drivers taking their test with an automatic are actually lower than the rates for manual cars. According to the DVLA, the pass rate for manual cars is 47%, while only 39% pass with an automatic.

Here is a breakdown of some advantages choosing manual over automatic:

  • Manual cars tend to be more fun and exciting to drive,

  • Manual cars are cheaper to buy than an automatic,

  • Manual cars are usually cheaper to insure than an automatic,

  • Learning to drive with a manual means you’re licensed to drive both manual and automatic

Here is a breakdown of some advantages choosing automatic over manual:

  • Automatic cars are now often faster than their manual versions,

  • It’s easier to learn to drive an automatic car, and you don’t have to worry about stalling,

  • You can get electric or hybrid versions of an automatic car.

If you are interested in learning to drive with 4front Driving School - we can offer you manual driving lessons at the moment.

We may offer automatic in the future and can guide you in the direction of instructors who do if this is the direction you wish to choose.

To find out more about learning to drive with 4front Driving School please visit our website at

Or contact us via email at

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