Which cars come with a manual gearbox?

Cars with manual gearboxes are declining in popularity. We explain why and reveal the models still available with a manual gearbox...

Volkswagen T-Roc manual gearbox

The era of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) is ushering in the demise of the manual gearbox at an alarming rate. What Car? research reveals that just 24% of the new mainstream models currently on sale are available with a manual gearbox; nearly three-quarters of new cars come with automatic gearboxes

Plus, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), new car sales statistics have changed drastically over the past five years. In 2023, only 29% (551,000) of the 1.9 million new cars registered in the UK in 2023 had manual gearboxes. That’s a reduction of nearly 25% since 2109 when 51% of new cars were manuals. 

UK new car sales: manual vs automatic gearboxes*



















*Source SMMT

Why are manual gearboxes disappearing? 

The growing number of hybrid and electric models on sale is one reason for the increase in automatic gearboxes

It’s much easier to incorporate a hybrid’s electric motor into an automatic gearbox than to team it with a manual set-up. With a hybrid’s transition from electric to petrol power overseen by complex computer software, it’s essential that the car’s systems have automatic control over gearchanges. A manual ’box would make it virtually impossible for a hybrid to deliver its power efficiently and seamlessly. 

Similarly, EVs are all automatic because they have no need for a clutch. The flexible nature of their power delivery, together with the fact that they can rev as high as 50,000rpm, means there’s no need for there to be any gears in the traditional sense.

With legislation dictating that 80% of new cars sold in the UK by 2030 are electric, rising to 100% by 2035, it’s clear that the traditional manual gearbox is rapidly being rendered obsolete by this new technology.

More learners are moving to automatic gearboxes

It’s not only car sales that are changing, learner drivers are following the trend towards automatics, with far more of them opting to learn and take their test in an auto and not drive a car with a manual gearbox at all. 

The latest statistics show that 19% (324,000) of driving tests taken in the year from April 2022 to March 2023 were in automatic cars, compared with 13% (200,000) in the 2019-2020 financial year. That’s more than a threefold increase in the popularity of automatic tests compared with a decade ago, when they accounted for only 6% (96,000) of tests taken. 

Learner and her dad in car

“Many younger drivers don’t see the point in learning to drive a manual car when they’re unlikely to need to do so in the future. The adverts they see for newer cars are for hybrids and EVs, so that’s what they aspire to owning and driving,” explains Karen Bromsgrove, general manager of the Driving Instructors Association (DIA). 

Is it easier to pass your driving test in an automatic? 

Although learning in a car with an automatic gearbox is easier than in a manual because you don’t have the stress of kangarooing down the road until you’ve mastered clutch control, data from the DVLA shows that those learning in an auto have a higher failure rate when taking their practical test. In 2023, 43% of those taking the L-test in an automatic passed, while the pass rate for manuals was 50%. 

Camilla Benitz, managing director of the AA Driving School puts the lower pass rate for autos down to the fact that those learning in autos have often had less time behind the wheel to practise driving skills. She says good car control in automatic car drivers could be mistaken for test readiness, when the driver still needs more time to develop correct decision making on the road.

Read our feature on whether you should still take your driving test in a manual car 

Which cars come with a manual gearbox? 

Many new car brands have appeared in the past couple of years. With the vast majority of them, such as BYD, GWM ORA and Polestar, specialising in pure electric models, they are one reason for the decline in availability of models with manual gearboxes. 

At the same time, established brands are also switching to hybrid and pure electric models and dropping diesel and petrol models from their line-ups. 

Ford Mustang gear lever

That means there are pretty slim pickings for anyone looking for a new car with a manual gearbox, with this gearbox mostly relegated to smaller, more budget-focussed models.

There are also some overtly sporty machines, such as the Abarth 595 and Ford Mustang, whose manual gearboxes appeal to their target audience. And there are a couple of brands that have introduced performance models with ‘fake manual’ gearbox systems that simulate the old-fashioned driving experience. These include the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and upcoming Toyota electric models. However, the choices aren’t huge as our list of the brands that still offer manual options reveals. 

The brands that don’t offer any manual gearbox options are: Alfa Romeo, BYD, Genesis, GWM ORA, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, Mini, Polestar, Smart, Subaru, Tesla and Volvo. 

Brands which offer some manual gearbox models 

Abarth 595 2020

Abarth - the 595 and 695 mini hot hatches provide plenty of pint-sized thrills. All versions come with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual gearbox that isn’t the slickest to operate. Both can also be had as convertibles with a retractable full-length roof. 

Audi - only the smaller models in Audi’s line-up can be had with manual gearboxes. The A1 is a premium small hatchback that’s based on the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen Polo. The 30 TFSI and 35 TFSI A1 variants come with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed auto. 

The larger A3 is one of only a handful of family hatchbacks still available with a manual gearbox. It comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines and both can be had with manual or automatic gearbox. 

Audi Q3 Sportback 2021 front right tracking

Three Q2 engines can be had with a six-speed manual ‘box: the 1.0 and 1.4 petrol and and the 1.6 diesel. And the 35 TFSI version of the Q3 Sportback is offered with the same. 

BMW - both the 118i petrol and 116d diesel versions of the 1 Series family hatchback can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. We prefer the punchier 120d diesel that has a quick-shifting auto gearbox, though. 

The only other BMW model available with a manual gearbox is the more glamorous sibling of the 1 Series, the 2 Series Gran Coupe, and the manual option is restricted to the 218i. 

Citroen - the French car maker offers six models with self-shifters. The lowest powered Puretech 83 petrol version of the C3 small hatchback can be had with a manual gearbox in cheaper C-Series Edition and Elle trim levels, but if you want the perkier Puretech 110 or BlueHDi 100 diesel you have to go for range topping Shine Plus spec. 

Citroën C3 Aircross front cornering

Our favourite C3 Aircross, the Puretech 110 petrol comes with a manual gearbox, as does the Blue HDi 110 diesel of this small SUV. 

The larger C4 is a temptingly priced small coupe-style SUV and the cheaper Puretech 100 and 130 petrol versions of it can be had with manual gearboxes. 

The C5 Aircross is a great value family SUV and the 129bhp 1.2 Puretech 130 petrol engine is a solid choice; it’s the only engine that comes with a manual gearbox. 

The Berlingo provides no-frills, practical motoring for cost-conscious families and the more affordable Feel trim level can be had with the Puretech 110 and BlueHDi 100 engines and manual gearboxes. 

Cupra - the sporty sister brand of Seat offers a range of spiced up petrol and electric models, including the Cupra Leon hatchback and Cupra Formentor sporty family SUV. The entry-level TSI 150 petrol versions of both of these don’t have the most inspiring performance, but they can be had with self-shifters. 

Cupra Formentor front cornering

Dacia - this brand is synonymous with affordable new cars, and its Sandero small hatchback is the cheapest new car you can buy. If you’re after a manual, the good news is both the fairly slow TCe 90 and the punchier TCe 100 come with manual gearboxes. 

Three versions of the Duster small SUV have six-speed manual gearboxes as standard: the TCe 90, 100 and 130.  

If you’re after an affordable seven-seater with a manual gearbox, the Jogger is the cheapest one available with seven-seats. Only the petrol TCe 100 version can be had with a manual gearbox. 

Fiat - the 500 mild hybrid model and latest Panda both come with a 1.0-litre petrol engine and a manual gearbox as standard. All other Fiat models have auto ‘boxes.  

Ford - even though the Fiesta small hatchback has been discontinued, there’s plenty of manual gearbox choices among other Ford models. All versions of the Focus family hatch come as manuals, as do all Ecosport variants, and most Puma models except for the sporty ST. 

On the larger Kuga SUV, only the 1.5 EcoBoost petrol engine comes with a manual gearbox, the more popular hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions have auto gearboxes. 

Ford Mustang front right driving

The traditional muscle car version of the Mustang can be had with a choice of auto or manual gear shifting, unlike the all-electric Mustang Mach-e, which partly shares that model’s name but is auto only. 

Both petrol and diesel versions of the Tourneo Connect van-based MPV have the option of manual or auto gearboxes.  

Hyundai - if you’re after a small city runabout with a manual gearbox the i10 and i20 are great options: the former comes with a five-speed gearbox and the latter has a six-speed unit. There’s also a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes on both the 1.0 and 1.5-litre mild hybrid versions of the larger i30 hatchback. 

The Bayon small SUV comes with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine that’s mated to either a manual or automatic gearbox, and both the 1.0 and 1.6 petrol versions of the Kona give buyers the choice of both gearbox types. 

The larger Tucson is unusual among a family SUV because it can also be had with a manual or auto gearbox. 

Hyundai Tucson front cornering

Jeep - the entry-level 1.2 petrol Avenger is the only version that can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. Our road testers praised it for having a short throw and slotting into gear smoothly.

Kia - we prefer the manual gearbox on the Picanto city car to the auto because it provides better acceleration than the auto gearbox, even though it needs to be worked fairly hard. 

Three petrols and a diesel make up the Kia Ceed engine line-up, and all can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. 

The Stonic small SUV and Sportage family SUV both also come with manual options for every engine.

KMG (formerly) Ssangyong - this Korean brand offers a manual gearbox on its Tivoli small SUV. 

Mazda - the mild hybrid version of the Mazda 2 is a small hatchback that can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. Both derivatives of the larger Mazda 3 hatchback can be specced with either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox; the manual is more fuel efficient than the auto. 

Red Mazda CX-30 front right driving

 A six-speed manual gearbox is also an option on the CX-30 and CX-5 family SUV. And, as you’d expect, you can spec your MX-5 sports car with a manual ‘box, too. 

MG - only the petrol-powered versions of the  ZS small SUV and HS family SUV are offered with manual gearboxes. 

Nissan - the 1.0 petrol Juke can be had with a manual gearbox, as can the DIG-T 140 and DIG-T 158 versions of the Qashqai, but the e-Power hybrid is auto only. 

Peugeot - both the PureTech 75 and 100 variants of the 208 come with manual gearboxes, but the 100 is the better bet with more power and six gears to choose from rather than five. The PureTech 100 with six-speed manual is also our top choice in the 2008 line-up.  

Porsche 718 Cayman front cornering

Porsche - only the entry-level Porsche 718 Cayman 2.0i can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. Although slightly slower than the PDK unit, it can still complete the 0-62mph dash in 5.1sec and it’s more involving to drive. 

Renault - only the entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol version of the Clio, badged TCe 90, comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, but it works well for punting around town. This same combination is also offered in the Captur, but it’s not as swift as the more powerful, automatic-only mid-spec E-Tech Full Hybrid 145 version, which we recommend.  

Seat - this Spanish VW Group brand offers a wide choice of models with manual gearboxes – five of its models come with this option. All Ibiza small hatchback models come with either a five or six-speed manual ‘box, and the non-mild hybrid versions of the larger Leon can also be had with manual gearboxes.  Lower-powered versions of the Arona small SUV and Ateca family SUV come with manual gearboxes, and the 1.5-litre petrol variant of the larger Tarraco, which is our pick of this line-up, also has a six-speed manual ‘box. 

Used Seat Tarraco front cornering

Skoda - another brand that shares many oily bits with its VW Group siblings, Skoda also offers five of its models with manual gearboxes, too. The Fabia is its Ibiza rival and the 1.0 TSI 95 version comes with a five-speed gearbox and the perkier 114bhp 1.0 TSI 116 has a six-speed gearbox. The TSI 95 Scala comes with a five-speed gearbox, but the more powerful TSI 116 has a six-speeder.  

If you need more space, the Octavia is an exceptionally roomy family hatchback; the lowest powered 1.0-litre petrol engine is offered with a manual gearbox. 

Skoda’s rival to the Seat Arona is the Kamiq - the 94bhp 1.0 TSI 95 version comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, and the entry-level larger SUV, the Karoq, can also be had with a manual ‘box. 

Suzuki - with a wide choice of small hatches and SUVs, Suzuki has four options for manual gearbox devotees. The Swift is its small hatchback, and it’s offered with a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox, which has a price shift action and positive weighting, or a CVT automatic that works well, but is pricier. The Ignis is a pint-sized SUV with a similarly good five-speed manual.

Red Suzuki Vitara front cornering

Our favourite Vitara is the 1.4-litre petrol, which has mild-hybrid technology and comes with a slick six-speed manual gearbox. And the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol S-Cross with manual gearbox is preferable to the 1.5 hybrid. 

Toyota - only the smallest Toyota Aygo model can be had with manual gearboxes. Its five-speed unit has to be worked fairly hard to keep up with other traffic.  

Vauxhall - six models in this line-up can be had with manual gearboxes starting with petrol versions of the Corsa, Mokka and Astra. We’ve tried the 1.2-litre 130, which is the more powerful of the two petrol Astras, and found its six-speed manual gearbox preferable to the eight-speed auto. 

The 1.2 Turbo version of the  Crossland with manual gearbox is our pick of this small SUV range, and the slightly more powerful 1.2 130PS Turbo in the larger Grandland is our top choice here. 

Yellow VW Golf front right static

Volkswagen - there are plenty of manual gearbox models on offer in this line-up, starting with the Polo small hatchback. The Golf family hatchback is currently offered with a six-speed manual gearbox, but this will be phased out later at the end of 2024. 

If you’re after a small Volkswagen SUV with a manual gearbox, the 1.0 TSI 95 T-Cross is the only engine available with this gearbox, but there are more options if you go for the T-Roc instead.  

If you’re after a roomy, practical seven-seat MPV, the Touran and Caddy both come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. 

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