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Automatic or Manual – Learning To Drive In London (And Other Busy Cities)

If you begin learning to drive with Book Instructor in London it will present its unique set of challenges, from navigating bustling streets of Croydon to interpreting complex traffic signs in Ealing. But before you even hit the road, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to learn in an automatic or manual car with our ADI. Understanding the differences between these two types of vehicles is crucial for any new driver in London and any busy UK town or City.

Manual Cars: The Traditional Choice

  1. Control and Engagement

    • Manual vehicles offer more control over the car’s performance. You’ll learn how to manage gears and understand the mechanics of driving more deeply.
    • This engagement can be rewarding but may initially seem daunting, especially in heavy London traffic.
  2. Skill Development

    • Mastering a manual car demands more coordination and skill. It’s often seen as a rite of passage and can be a point of pride for many drivers.
    • These skills are especially useful on London’s varied roads, from steep hills to congested areas.
  3. License Flexibility

    • A UK driving licence for a manual car allows you to drive both manual and automatic cars, offering greater flexibility.
  4. Affordability

    • Manual lessons can be cheaper, and manual cars are often more affordable than their automatic counterparts.

Automatic Cars: The Rising Trend

  1. Ease of Learning

    • Automatic cars simplify the driving process. Without the need to change gears, you can focus more on road awareness and navigation.
    • This can be a significant advantage in London, where driving conditions are often complex.
  2. Reduced Physical Effort

    • Driving an automatic is generally less physically demanding. This can be a relief in stop-start traffic, common in urban areas like London.
  3. License Limitation

    • An automatic-only licence restricts you to driving automatic vehicles. This is a crucial consideration if you plan to drive different types of vehicles in the future.
  4. Popularity and Future-Proofing

    • With the rise of electric vehicles, which are all automatic, learning in an automatic car could be seen as future-proofing your driving skills, so if you want to learn electric, ask for an automatic driving instructor!

The London Driving Experience

  1. Traffic and Congestion

    • London’s heavy traffic can make driving a manual car more challenging, especially for beginners.
    • An automatic car relieves the stress of constant gear shifting in slow-moving traffic.
  2. Stop-Start Nature

    • The frequent stopping and starting in London traffic can be tiring in a manual car due to constant clutch use.
    • Automatic cars offer a more relaxed driving experience in such conditions.
  3. Hill Starts

    • London’s hilly areas can be tricky for new drivers in a manual car, where mastering the clutch balance is essential.
    • Automatic cars handle hill starts more smoothly, easing this aspect of driving lessons.

Choosing What’s Best for You 

Ultimately, the choice between learning in an automatic or manual car in London comes down to personal preference and future needs. Consider the type of driving you’ll be doing post-lessons, your comfort with multi-tasking under pressure, and the versatility you need from your driving licence. Whether you choose the traditional path of a manual or the streamlined approach of an automatic, each has its merits, especially in the unique driving landscape of London. has many driving instructors in London who offer both manual and automatic, so you can be rest assured that whatever path you take, you are in great hands. You can also begin in manual and if you do not like it, switch it up to an automatic car!

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