What Car? Q&A June 2009 - Automatic for the people?

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Automatic
Automatic
Q) I’m thinking of buying my first automatic car, having driven only manuals for the past 19 years. What are the pros and cons of autos? Am I better off sticking with a manual?
Robert Minshull, via e-mail


A There are several types of automatic gearbox, but they all make life easier by changing gear for you. You don’t have to worry about pressing a clutch pedal or moving a gearlever.

Whether the benefits are worth it will depend on your circumstances. Automatic cars cost more than manuals to buy (usually by between £500 and £2000). Most automatic ’boxes harm economy and emissions, meaning you’ll also have to fork out more on fuel and tax.

Some automatic cars pull away from a standstill and change gear smoothly, while others are jerky, so always test drive an automatic version of the car you’re looking at – never simply drive the manual and tick the auto option.

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