Hot Hatch: Shoud I Choose Automatic or Manual Transmission?

Kevin WallisFunLeave a Comment

Last summer I was in the fortunate position of being able to buy myself a new hot hatch car.

Over the years my previous hot hatches have always had a manual gearbox. An automatic either hasn’t been an option or a consideration.

Are modern automatics up to the challenge?

Advances in the modern automatic transmissions presented me with a dilemma though. Compared with the manual gearbox equivalent of the same car, the automatic version:

  • Is more economical.
  • Has a lower CO2 with associated savings on road tax. (BIK saving was not a consideration as this was a private purchase).
  • Is faster accelerating.
  • Has normal and sports modes.
  • Is higher geared when cruising.

For and against

There is a cost and slight weight penalty associated with ticking the auto gearbox option and of course there is the perceived loss of control as the gearbox decides which gear to choose.

Then again, I can always select the gears myself with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

How long would it take to recoup the extra initial cost in fuel and road tax savings? Did I even want an automatic hot hatch? The dilemma and research went on, but a test drive in both versions lead me to a decision.

Decision time

So, what did I do when placing the order? Much to my surprise, I brought the auto version and haven’t looked back since.


About the Author

Kevin Wallis

Operations Director


One of the Directors of Optima, Kevin is responsible for the day-to-day running of the company. He is also responsible for the company’s Corporate Governance, financial planning and budgetary control, resource planning and our compliance with Health and Safety laws. He is, to say the least, analytical and highly organised. More about Kevin.


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