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Should I Learn to Drive In a Manual or Automatic Car?

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There are two types of car driving licence here in the UK, manual and automatic. One of the hardest parts of learning to drive in a regular manual car is mastering the clutch and changing gears, so many students decide to sidestep that by taking their lessons and test in an automatic car.

If you’re tempted to do the same, there are a few things you should consider first. We’ve outlined the main pros and cons below to help you decide how to take your test.

More people are taking their test in automatics than ever before

A growing number of first-time drivers are taking their test in two-pedal cars, statistics from Marmalade show. According to the company, 45,000 automatic tests took place in 2015, while almost 80,000 were completed in 2020 – almost double. If that doesn’t prove there’s a growing appetite for automatic-only licences, we don’t know what does.

Driving an automatic is much easier

With only two pedals to worry about instead of three and no gear changing to take care of, driving an automatic car is much easier than driving a manual. Coming to a stop and getting going again becomes effortless, freeing your brain up to focus on manoeuvring safely. Automatic cars are even more of a godsend in built-up city areas, where stop-start traffic and tight junctions are commonplace.

You won’t be able to drive manual cars

The first – and only – real drawback to taking your test in an auto. Yes, you’ll most likely be able to pass more easily, but the licence you attain will only allow you to drive an automatic car. When you come to buy your first car, this means you’ll have fewer options, and those available to you will likely be more expensive than their manual equivalents.

Most new cars are automatic

Traditionally, British motorists have always favoured manual gearboxes. For decades, they were more fuel efficient and cheaper to buy, making them the go-to choice. Modern automatics are more eco-friendly than their manual counterparts though, and they’re often not that much more expensive to buy. Add in the convenience factor of not having to worry about changing gear, and it’s perhaps no surprise that – for the first time in history – most new cars were sold with automatic transmissions in 2020.

Cars of the future will be automatic

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars will come to an end in the UK in 2030, leaving electric (and potentially hydrogen fuel cell) models to dominate the market. Crucially, all of these zero-emission vehicles come either with an automatic transmission or only have one gear. So, if you pass your test this year and want to buy a new vehicle, you’ll probably only get the chance to own one with a manual transmission before they disappear from new car showrooms for good – even more reason to learn in an automatic.

In summary…

If you want to be free to own and drive any car – manual or automatic – then learning in an auto will restrict your options quite a bit. However, when you consider current trends and the rise in popularity of automatic gearboxes, getting an automatic licence makes a lot of sense.

Ready to get your driving journey off to a flying start? Take a look at our intensive driving courses in Cambridgeshire today and book online.

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