Some experts say manual cars allow better control of grip, transfer of weight and modification
PIC: A manual car transmission. (File photo)
Despite the fact that most people today drive automatic cars, there are still many people who love a stick shift or manual car.
There are many arguments for and against each of the two transmission modes. However, some experts say what makes a good driver is how much they understand their car. Some argue that manual cars allow better control of grip, transfer of weight and modification, while automatic cars give less control to the driver.
Many Ugandans prefer automatic cars because they find them easier to drive, while a few old drivers think driving a manual cars makes one a real driver. In some countries, an automatic licence allows the holder to only drive a car with automatic transmission.
According to Douglas Kawalya, the head of government business at MAC East Africa, many drivers do not know that there is a difference in fuel consumption between manual and automatic cars and that manual cars save on fuel.
“It is possible to shift gears from a high-consuming to a less consuming one, like when descending a hill. Skip some gears, and you will save more fuel. This will keep engine speed and lower fuel consumption during acceleration. This is most useful when the lower gear is already faster during traffic,” Kawalya says.
A manual driver is more in control and aware when to reduce speed, stop and how to control the car. Because they do gear shifting on their own, they are more aware of which gear does what to the car and on which terrain or road surface.
They have to know the physics of speed visa vis braking, acceleration and car control. They are more aware of the cause and the effect of oversteering or understeering and are, therefore, more careful when driving.
Depending on the nature of the road — corners, cumbers, bumps and humps — they have to know how the car weight shifts from side to side or from rear to front and shift the gears accordingly, to keep in control.
Easy to maintain
Kawalya says the Government prefers buying manual cars because they are less expensive to maintain than the automated transmission ones. When the parts wear out, repairing and maintaining them is less costly compared to the automatic cars.
It could also be a government strategy to stop its officials from driving official cars since most of them are not comfortable with manual cars. This gives chance to experienced drivers to get jobs and this professional handling lengthens the lifespan of the cars.
“Only a few people can get from class A to B in a stickshift car. The art of mastering how to navigate through the rough roads and traffic jam is lost on the new generation of car drivers,” Kawalya says.
Noah Kyeyune, a driver in Kampala, says driving a manual car gives him a certain level of discipline.
“It is easy to control the speed by shifting from a higher gear to a lower one than it is in an automatic car where the car does the job. This gives me the power to control the car, from balancing, determining the gear ratio and changing gears,” he explains.
Because manual drivers feel more connected to their cars, they easily learn good driving tips, Kyeyune says.
“We do not easily get bored like automatic car drivers. We practise more and learn how to brake smoothly, comfortably turn the car and judge distance the between cars. All this happens because we have a bigger role in how the car behaves,” he says.
Kyeyune says there is more concentration when driving a manual than an automatic car.
“Having gears to play with also means you need to concentrate more. You need to see the nature of the road ahead and determine which gear would be appropriate. It could be a hump, pothole or loose stones. All these may need different gears,” Kyeyune says.
He adds that all these make a manual car driver always alert to take in all details on the road and be ready to adjust the driving style. This reduces the risk of accidents.
However, Paul Bazibwe, the marketing and sales manager of Victoria Motors, disagrees with Kyeyune. He believes that driving quality depends on training and personality.
Bazibwe says the main reason why the government prefers manual cars is that they are cheaper.
“Automatic transmission cars are more expensive by almost a 10% difference in most brands,” he says. Bazibwe adds that previously, there were fears that automatic cars could easily break down due to poor handling because they were second-hand or reconditioned. However, lately, the Government buys only new cars.
Reagan Mwesigwa, a driver of an automatic car, says manual drivers are more respected because of their extra driving skills.
“They are believed to be good when it comes to driving a car. If your first car was automatic, you will find it harder to drive a manual one,” he says.
Mwesigwa adds that a manual car driver must understand their car very well and, which gear works best where. “This allows them to develop a closer relationship with their car and understand how it works. It makes them safer and more considerate drivers,” he says.