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Manual vs Automatic Transmissions Pros and Cons

Should I buy a manual or automatic transmission vehicle

For one reason or the other, Zimbabweans are addicted to manual transmission vehicles. The situation is such that having a manual transmission is actually a selling point for used car salesmen in the country. However, over the past few years, with the proliferation of used Japanese vehicles, this love has, more or less, been turned over its head. The reason for this is the fact that most exjaps come with automatic transmissions, and people in Zimbabwe and elsewhere do not really have a choice when it comes to choosing the transmissions that they want on their vehicles. So, is the love that Zimbabweans have for manual transmission vehicles justified and what are the pros and cons of driving vehicles that have either gearboxes?

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Manual vs automatic transmission vehicles

  1. Manual transmission vehicles tend to have a better resale value

We have already noted that Zimbabweans generally love manual transmission cars. Whether or not this love is justified is another matter. However, it follows that manual gearbox cars tend to be easier to sell in Zimbabwe. They also tend to have a better resale value.

Why the resale value matters

For most people in Africa, used Japanese vehicles tend to be both a means of transportation and a long term investment. The same mentality is probably present across the globe, but in Zimbabwe, it is much more accentuated. Most people who buy ex-japs do so in order to keep their money safe through the ownership of an asset. 

However, the fact of the matter is that used Japanese vehicles actually vary when it comes to their ability to retain value. A Corolla bubble, as an example, retains it’s value better than a Honda Fit. If you buy a Corolla today for $6000, you can expect to sale it for around $5000 within a year. A fit, on the other hand, would only find buyers at an amount that’s around $3000.

Of course, this comparison is not very scientific, considering that a Honda Fit actually costs way less than a Corolla when being imported from Japan. In any case, resale value is important, and you get more of it when you buy a manual transmission vehicle.

  1. You have more choices when choosing automatic transmission vehicles

Most of the vehicles that are driven in Japan appear to be automatic transmissions. That is particularly the case when it comes to sedans and other small vehicles. You only need to carry out a check on Be Forward to understand what we are talking about. It follows, therefore, that you are not going to have many choices when it comes to getting the car that you want should you be hell bent on buying a manual transmission vehicle.

options are limited when it comes to manual vehicles in Japan
Manual vs automatic transmission vehicles

Let’s assume, as an example, that you wish to get the Corolla sedan that we have just been talking about. When I carry out a Search for manuals on Be Forward, I only get 13 vehicles matching the category. Carrying out the same search with the automatic transmission option selected brings back 66 results.

automatic transmission vehicles
Manual vs automatic transmission vehicles
  1. Automatic transmissions are easier to drive

This point is rather subjective. However, based on our experience, it’s much easier to drive an automatic transmission vehicles as compared to a manual transmission vehicle. There is something about simply having to press on the accelerator that just makes like a lot easier.

In Zimbabwe, automatic transmission vehicles are most popular among women, while men generally prefer manual transmission vehicles. A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend weeks alternative between driving manual and automatic transmissions. I have to say that life was a lot easier when I was driving the automatic transmission.

  1. Acceleration

One of the things that I have discovered is that acceleration is much better in an automatic vehicle, when compared to a manual. When driving an auto, all that you need to do is press on the accelerator, and you can zoom along. The speed at which you accelerate in a manual transmission vehicle is going to be dependent on how quick you are when changing gears.

Which car should I buy?

No one, of course, is going to be able to prescribe the kind of car that you will end up buying at the end of the day. However, if it is left to me, I would opt for an automatic transmission. There is no need, really, for you to go through the hassle of changing gears when there is an option for you to simply press the accelerator and zoom along. I know, this statement is rather unmanly of me, but there you have it. I prefer an automatic transmission vehicle to a manual.

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