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View Poll Results: No Automatic for me because:
Fuel-efficiency concerns 236 18.63%
I love Manual transmissions! 507 40.02%
AT option is unavailable on my choice of car (including diesels) 387 30.54%
I don't think the cost premium (75 - 100K) is worth it 210 16.57%
Maintenance concerns 150 11.84%
Other reason (please specify in your post) 36 2.84%
Not applicable. My next car WILL be an Automatic 287 22.65%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 1267. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 19th November 2011, 12:25   #1
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Default So, why don't you buy an Automatic?


Consider the picture above. That rush-hour traffic is a standard part of our lives...at least for those of us who live in the metropolitan cities. These are the exact driving conditions that an Automatic transmission was designed for, and is the most purposeful.

Why aren't Automatics more popular in India? Okay, I will have to rephrase that question, as Automatics are actually very popular in the premium segments. It's only the mass market (cars costing less than 10 lakh rupees) that automatics have failed to penetrate the market. Back of the envelope calculations tell me that less than 1% of the mass-market hatchbacks & sedans are sold with an automatic transmission. On the other hand, when it comes to premium cars, Automatic transmissions outsell manuals by a mile. Fact is, you can't even buy most premium cars with a manual gearbox (e.g. Mercedes, BMW, Audi etc.).

This question came up in my mind when I was compiling the review of the dual-clutch Fiesta. It only takes one manufacturer to lead the way, and the others will inevitably follow. Not so long ago, ABS was an extremely rare option on sub-10 lakh rupee cars. Now, it's commonplace even with Rs. 4.xx lakh hatchbacks. Thus, it's only a matter of time before dual-clutch gearboxes are offered in other <10 lakh rupee cars. I've also commented in the Fiesta review of how, 5 years back, there was only one Automatic C segment sedan you could buy (the Honda City). Today, there are no less than 6 : Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti SX4, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Vento & the Skoda Rapid. Additionally, a large number of first-time drivers now own cars, and the learning curve of driving is simply not as steep as that for manual geared cars.

So, Why don't YOU buy an Automatic? A poll has been added to this thread; I understand there might be more than one reason, so do choose the ones that are applicable to you (but choose only the most relevant reasons). I'll start with the reasons why I don't have an Automatic in my garage:
  • I'm a lover of manual transmissions. Simple. Therefore, even if the dual-clutch tranny can shift gears faster than Michael Schumacher, I don't care. I love driving way too much, and the gear choosing & changing experience is way too emotional for me to hand that task over to a computer. I will always pick a manual transmission over an AT for the cars that I love to drive. Heck, I even spent 2+ months searching for a used manual transmission car in the States; believe me, it was quite a task in that automatic-dominated market.
  • Equally, I wouldn't mind an Automatic transmission as a local runabout. We use the Tata Indigo for that purpose. It's time to replace the Indigo and, unfortunately, there isn't any diesel automatic hatchback / sedan in the price range we are looking at. A 7 lakh rupee diesel AT would be just perfect for the local errands that the Indigo is used for. I even created a thread on why I think Tata is one of the few manufacturers who can bring a well-priced diesel Automatic to the market : Link to thread (The case for an Automatic Indica!).

Last edited by GTO : 19th November 2011 at 14:18.
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:28   #2
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Lovely thread. Something which I was waiting for.
I voted for the last choice - "Not applicable. My next car WILL be an Automatic"
I currently drive a MT vehicle, but the ever increasing traffic is making me think of switching to an AT. And the day is not far!!!
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:30   #3
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

I'll try and summarize the reason why I don't have an automatic in my garage. It's 3 P's of marketing -

Petrol
Price
Performance

Most of the cars under 7 lakhs, that offer auto tranny would be petrol cars; hence the cost of running goes up. Secondly, its the price, most auto's are priced at a premium; not everyone can afford to pay for it.

The last P is for Performance, as a petrolhead, I want the maximum out of my car; i am the best judge of the amount of perfomance thats needed at a particular place...
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:36   #4
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

The only reason why my current car is not an auto is purely because an affordable diesel automatic (as pointed out by GTO) is not available in the market. That said, my next car will def will be an automatic - especially since my better half drives the car more than me in the city. I will eventually go for an SUV that may not be an automatic
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:37   #5
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

A few reasons why i feel autos-transmission are not preferred:


1. Impact on Fuel Efficiency - Auto Trans cars consume more for the liter. In the mass market, people are more cost conscious, and anything that adds to running cost is a NO NO

2. We grew up on Manuals - At-least for me, i saw my grand-dad, uncles, dad and the drivers all changing a gear as an essential part of the driving experience, so it feels weird not to do that with the ATs, and so i stuck on with the MTs.

3. Petrol Vs Diesel - This is a recent trend, but, there are just not enough manufacturers offering AT with their diesel cars, and the market is shifting rapidly towards diesel.

4. Perception - With a manual, I the driver am in control of when to up shift or downshift, and i lose that control in AT, hence i'd love to stick to MT.

Disclaimer: Views above are with my extensive experience with MT, and limited experience with AT (travels abroad). Please educate me / point out if anything is amiss.
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:40   #6
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Default

I do have an AT in the garage, i10, though its mostly driven by my wife. Whenever i drive it, i get bored immediately.
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:41   #7
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Another problem with automatics is that they feel underpowered, especially with small engines (< 2.0 L), while in a manual you can control where to find the torque.

The best solution to that picture above is not just an automatic transmission. A better solution are (gas/diesel electric) hybrids or battery powered cars that don't spend fuel while waiting in traffic. Further the torque of electric motors/drive allow easier driving in start stop traffic.

Last edited by vishwas : 19th November 2011 at 14:53.
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Old 19th November 2011, 14:45   #8
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Though i drive an automatic, the number one reason for my acquaintances for not buying an At was the extra price they have to pay. Another reason few gave was that ATs are for ladies or it's not manly enough.
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:02   #9
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Even the perception part affects buying automatics to a considerable degree. Talk around, and almost everyone will dissuade you from buying an automatic, highway overtaking and FE concerns being the primary issues reported.

I for one definitely intend to buy an automatic hatch as the next vehicle, considering my parents would be driving it primarily. Was hoping Honda to provide one in Brio, might have to settle with i10 now.

Personally? nah! can't let go the joys of manual transmission for a few more years at least

BTW, any specific reason why most c segment diesel sedans don't have automatic transmission as an option?
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:03   #10
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Excellent thread!
I selected option 2 & 3. I love manual transmission in comparison to an AT. But on convenience point of view, AT does make a good case in our traffic conditions. And there comes the 2nd option I chose. No real good AT options in the segment I am looking for – especially in the mid-level C-Segment. If I need to feel good about the technology I use, I need to look into premium C+ segment (e.g.; VW & Skoda DSGs). Yes, now Ford is coming with DCT in the 10 lakhs segment, but only in Petrol! As I mentioned in the Fiesta AT thread – hope this opens up a new trend.
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:06   #11
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Some time ago, I was seriously considering i10/i20/City automatic.

Somehow, couldn't get to like any of the cars enough and moved away from automatics. There were also concerns about FE, maintenance while considering an automatic. The latter would probably be less of a concern for an advanced auto (City). The premium on auto was also playing up in the mind, as there was some liking for the manual tranny. Probably, it was combination of all the factors that drove me away.

As the market for automatics develops, however, most of these factors would get addressed/mitigated. E.g., in my knowledge, in US, you have to pay extra for manual transmission, as it's made to order!

So what would really have been my take, had there been enough advanced automatics been available in the market? I think I'd have gone for it!

Hence, voted for the most prominent factor only - AT option not available. The rest appear secondary factors for me.

Last edited by RadiantKarma : 19th November 2011 at 15:21.
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:08   #12
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

How would a drag race between two same cars be? If both of them are ATs?? I shudder to think of it! I cant imagine myself moving fast without getting into the mood, and for me, the gear lever is a very significant part of this. Even if offered at the same cost of the manual, even if it is faster and more fuel efficient, I will not take the AT over the Manual. I just love manual boxes.
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:12   #13
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

I love manuals. The Joy of driving a manual cannot be met by the Auto.

But all said & done, I do miss the A/T in city traffic. I have voted for 'A/T option not available in my choice of car'. While buying the punto, we wanted a diesel hatch with A/T but none were available.

Now, if the XUV comes out with A/T, well & good.
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:14   #14
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Initial poll results are a surprise. I expected fuel-efficiency to be the undisputed leader of this poll.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amtak View Post
The last P is for Performance
Quote:
Originally Posted by vishwas View Post
Another problem with automatics is that they feel underpowered, especially with small engines (< 2.0 L), while in a manual you can control where to find the torque.
But DSGs are usually quicker / as quick than their manual counterparts. Plus, when you need a downshift, there is always the paddle-shift / tiptronic / L mode. They also have atleast 6 gear ratios. Though, I will agree, the conventional breed of automatics in the mass-market do sap the engine of performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chennai-indian View Post
The only reason why my current car is not an auto is purely because an affordable diesel automatic (as pointed out by GTO) is not available in the market.
Why doesn't Tata come out with an AT Manza? The VFM pricing can easily accommodate a well-priced AT!!! I'll put my money on it tomorrow if Tata takes the plunge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avisidhu View Post
BTW, any specific reason why most c segment diesel sedans don't have automatic transmission as an option?
Manufacturers say there isn't enough demand for ATs. Well, my answer usually is "How will there be demand unless you give the market what it wants?!"
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Old 19th November 2011, 15:18   #15
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Default Re: So, why don't you buy an Automatic?

Voted for the second option.
I love manual. The only Automatic I have ever driven is the BMW GT. No doubt it was fast, but I thought how much more awesome it would have been if it was manual!
Driving a manual car gives me a high which an automatic one can never give.

Last edited by driveanddrive : 19th November 2011 at 15:23.
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