‘It won’t be long before automatics outnumber manual car sales’

With over a million automatic gearbox cars sold in the UK last year, Steve Fowler assesses the case for the auto box

While many purists will cry foul when new performance models are launched with a faster, more efficient auto box in place of a manual shift, most car buyers don’t seem to mind at all.

Crawling over the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, we discovered that back in 2012, 506,720 cars were registered with automatic gearboxes (be that standard autos, CVTs or semi-automatics). Five years on and the stats for autos in 2017 have more than doubled to 1,016,516.

Manual vs automatic gearboxes - which should you choose?

Sure, over that time, registrations rose, too. But at that rate, it won’t be too long before the sales of autos overtake those of manual cars. Especially as we see a rapid increase in the popularity of hybrid and fully electric cars – all of which are automatics.

All that has prompted a debate in the Fowler household that, currently, has two 17-year old lads learning to drive. They’re learning in a manual, of course, and just about coming to terms with clutch control. And as I remember myself, it’s probably the most difficult part of learning, before you get on to the more important aspects of becoming a driver.

So should they have just accepted that, eventually, most people will just be driving automatics and aimed at an auto-only test pass? Would they have less fun if they wanted to attend a track day? Well, I wouldn’t say the McLaren 570GT I ran last year with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto was boring...

One of my lads’ friends, having just passed his test, has gone straight into a cheap, small automatic car. His reasoning was that he’ll have a black box in his car monitoring his driving, so if he didn’t have to worry about changing gear and balancing the clutch, he could just concentrate on being a better driver. Smart guy. The latest autos are efficient, relaxing and can still make driving fun. And that’s why I’m a big fan.

Now read about the best automatic cars on sale in 2018…

Recommended

'This really is a great time to buy a new car'
Opinion dealership
Opinion

'This really is a great time to buy a new car'

Steve Fowler points out some great new car deals to be had in post-lockdown
14 Apr 2021
'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'
Opinion commute
Opinion

'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'

Britain needs to re-think its approach to commuting, according to Mike Rutherford
11 Apr 2021
'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value
Appreciators: Renault 5
Features

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value

Looking to invest in a modern classic? Here are some cars destined to appreciate in value
4 May 2021
Vauxhall Mokka vs Hyundai Kona vs Nissan Juke
Vauxhall Mokka vs Hyundai Kona vs Nissan Juke
Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka vs Hyundai Kona vs Nissan Juke

Can the all-new Vauxhall Mokka make an impact in the small SUV market? We test it against the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Juke to find out
8 May 2021
Average speed cameras on motorways get approval from drivers
Average speed camera
News

Average speed cameras on motorways get approval from drivers

UK drivers are in favour of average speed cameras on motorways despite the majority admitting to breaking 70mph limit
10 May 2021