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blog large image - Manual vs Automatic Transmissions: Making the Right Choice for Your Car

Manual vs Automatic Transmissions: Making the Right Choice for Your Car


Table of Contents

Manual vs Automatic Transmissions: Making the Right Choice for Your Car

  1. How does each transmission work?

  2. Pros and cons of manual transmissions

    1. Pros

    2. Cons

  3. Pros and cons of automatic transmissions

    1. Pros

    2. Cons

  4. Mazda's approach to transmissions



steering wheel

Manual vs Automatic Transmissions: Making the Right Choice for Your Car

Buying a new car is a great feeling, but it sometimes comes with a few challenges. One such challenge is deciding whether to opt for a manual or automatic transmission. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so today we will compare manual vs automatic cars to help you decide which option best suits your needs.

How does each transmission work?

In a manual transmission, also known as a stick shift, the driver is responsible for shifting gears. This is done by pressing the clutch pedal, which disengages the transmission from the engine, allowing the driver to shift gears using the gear stick. The driver then releases the clutch pedal, which re-engages the transmission and the engine.

An automatic transmission, on the other hand, does not require the driver to shift gears manually. Instead, it automatically shifts gears based on factors such as engine speed, throttle position, and vehicle speed. Automatic transmissions use a torque converter, which is a type of fluid coupling, to connect the engine to the transmission. This allows the transmission to change gears without the need for a clutch.

gear stick

Pros and cons of manual transmissions

Manual transmissions have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, which can make them an appealing or less attractive option depending on your personal preferences and driving needs. Below are the pros and cons of manual transmissions.


  • Fuel efficiency: manual transmissions often provide better fuel efficiency than automatic transmissions, mainly because they have less parasitic loss and don't require the same level of fluid pumping.

  • More control: manual transmissions give drivers more control over their vehicle. You can choose the most appropriate gear for any situation, whether it's for more power when overtaking or engine braking downhill.

  • Lower cost: generally, manual transmissions are cheaper to purchase than automatic transmissions. They also tend to be less complex, which means that repairs, when needed, are usually less expensive.


  • Learning curve: mastering the operation of a manual gearbox requires time and practice. Drivers new to manual cars must learn how to coordinate the clutch, throttle, and gear shifter to drive smoothly. This initial learning curve can be intimidating and frustrating for some.

  • Inconvenience in traffic: driving a manual car in stop-and-go traffic can be tedious. Constantly shifting gears and operating the clutch can become tiring and inconvenient when compared to simply letting an automatic transmission handle the gear changes.

  • Resale value and demand: in regions where manual transmissions are less popular, it can be more difficult to sell a manual car or get a good resale value. The decreasing demand for manual gearbox vehicles means that you may face a smaller pool of potential buyers when it comes time to sell.

Close-up view of the automatic gearbox lever

Pros and cons of automatic transmissions

Automatic transmissions have become increasingly popular over the years, but much like their manual counterparts, they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Below are the pros and cons of automatic transmissions.


  • Ease of use: one of the primary benefits of automatic cars is their ease of use. With automatic gearboxes, drivers don't have to manually operate the clutch and shift gears, making it a more straightforward and accessible driving experience, especially for new or inexperienced drivers.

  • Convenience in traffic: automatic transmissions shine in stop-and-go traffic. Since the gearbox handles all the gear changes, drivers can focus more on the road and other aspects of driving, such as steering and braking. This is particularly advantageous in heavy traffic conditions where constant gear shifting in manual cars can be tiring.

  • Adaptive technology: many automatic cars come with adaptive transmission technology that adjusts gear-shifting patterns based on driving conditions and driver behaviour. This can improve fuel efficiency, optimise performance, and provide a smoother driving experience.


  • Fuel efficiency: historically, automatic cars have been less fuel-efficient than manual cars. Although advancements in automatic gearbox technology have improved fuel efficiency, there still can be a slight disadvantage in some cases compared to manual transmissions.

  • Higher initial cost: automatic transmissions are generally more expensive than manual transmissions. The additional cost is due to the complexity of automatic gearboxes and the advanced technology they incorporate.

The Mazda logo and the SKYACTIV Technology engine in New Mazda car.

Mazda's approach to transmissions

Mazda's dedication to driving pleasure is perhaps best embodied in its Skyactiv® Technology which includes cutting-edge transmission systems for both manual and automatic cars.

Skyactiv®-MT is a manual transmission that exemplifies the brand's driver-centric approach. This lightweight, compact transmission is designed to provide quick and precise gear changes, allowing the driver to feel a direct connection to the vehicle and the road. The system is available in the iconic Mazda MX-5, offering a more engaging and spirited driving experience.

Skyactiv®-Drive is an automatic transmission that combines the best characteristics of various transmission types, such as conventional automatic, continuously variable, and dual-clutch transmissions. The result is a versatile and responsive transmission system that provides smooth and quick gear changes while maximising fuel efficiency. This system is present in most of the range, including the new Mazda CX3.

If you are looking for more information on manual vs automatic Mazdas, contact us today or visit our dealership in Melville.