Stick Shift or Smooth Ride: You Decide! (Manual vs. Automatic)

Published by BDS London Marketing on

Once upon a time in the bustling city of London, a driving instructor named Chris stood before a group of eager learners in a webinar. The air was charged with anticipation as he introduced a topic that resonates deeply in the hearts of all car enthusiasts and aspiring drivers: the choice between manual and automatic transmissions. With a twinkle in his eye, Chris began to unfold the narrative of "Stick Shift vs. Smooth Ride," blending his rich experience with engaging storytelling to captivate his audience.

Chris's weekly "driving test tips" webinars, hosted by BDS London, a renowned driving school, have become a staple for many. As he delved into the nuances of gear levers and automatic transmissions, his words painted a vivid picture of the evolving landscape of automotive technology and driver preferences in the UK and beyond.

The Evolution of Car Transmission: A Statistical Overview

The shift from manual to automatic cars has been dramatic over the past decade. According to recent data, 68.7% of all cars sold in the UK in 2024 were equipped with automatic gearboxes, including electric and hybrid cars, which are inherently automatic. This marks a significant rise from 62% in 2021, indicating a steady trend towards automatic vehicles. The preference is even more pronounced in electric cars, where manual transmissions are virtually nonexistent. This shift aligns with broader environmental goals, as the UK plans to phase out the sale of manual gearboxes by 2030 in favor of electric vehicles, which only support automatic transmission.

Driving Test Dynamics: Insights from BDS London Webinars

During one of his webinars, Chris highlighted a compelling statistic: the number of automatic driving tests taken has increased by a staggering 260% in just one year. This surge underscores the growing preference for automatic cars, influenced by their ease of use and the broader transition towards electric and hybrid vehicles. Chris often advises his students at BDS London about the practicality of automatic vehicles, noting that they require 20-30% fewer lessons on average compared to manual cars, significantly easing the learning process.

Manual vs. Automatic: What's Best for You?

Choosing between manual and automatic ultimately depends on personal preferences and future intentions. While automatic cars offer convenience and are increasingly becoming the norm, manual cars provide a different kind of control and engagement with the vehicle. However, as Chris points out, modern automatic cars come equipped with features like paddle shifters, allowing drivers to enjoy manual-like control when desired, blending the best of both worlds.

Chris also addresses the economic aspects in his webinars. Although manual cars are generally cheaper upfront, the difference in cost has diminished over the years. Moreover, with the shift towards automatics, the resale value of manual cars is likely to decrease, making them less appealing as a long-term investment.

Practical Considerations and Legal Implications

In the UK, obtaining a license for an automatic car restricts the driver to automatic vehicles only, whereas a manual license allows driving both types. This flexibility can be crucial for those who might prefer or require a manual vehicle in specific situations. Yet, Chris advises considering future needs, as the automotive industry's shift towards automatics may render manual skills less relevant.


The choice between manual and automatic transmissions is more than just a preference for gear shifting; it's about anticipating the future of driving and aligning one's skills with upcoming trends. As BDS London continues to guide new drivers through this decision, the landscape of driving is evolving, with automatic transmissions leading the way towards a smoother, more efficient driving experience.

For more insights and personalized advice, join BDS London’s free "Driving Test Tips" webinar every Thursday, where experts like Chris help demystify the complexities of driving and car ownership. Whether you choose the nostalgic engagement of a manual or the sleek convenience of an automatic, BDS London is here to steer you right.


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