Comparing the Pros & Cons of Manual & Auto Cars in S’pore

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Let’s face it: in Singapore, unless you have a commercial vehicle, the chances of you driving a manual transmission car are pretty low.

I have the privilege to drive a manual car before changing it to an auto one (damn, COE), and having driven both for a relatively long period of time, here’s my verdict one on which one is “nicer” to drive in a city-state like Singapore.

Driving at night without much traffic

Image: Duncan Andison /
Image: Duncan Andison /

There’s actually not much difference between cruising on a manual and auto car—you’re essentially just on the same gear all the time. Some people claim that driving a manual car will keep you awake due to the changing of gears, but I beg to differ—I’ve tried both at 2:00 a.m. and both times, the Z monster was still there.

Winner: Draw

Driving during peak hours

Image: Dmitry Chulov /
Image: Dmitry Chulov /

Here’s when one of the key differences kick in: during peak hours, you’ll have to stop and move like countless times, especially when you’re guaranteed a jam every morning. In instances like this, you need to cut in change lane fast.

A manual car has better control over your speed, allowing you to speed up so fast that you’ll be literally taken aback. While an auto car can do that as well, I’ve come to realize that you need really heavy foot to push the RPM high—and without engine brake, you need yet another heavy foot to brake fast as well.

Granted that it takes much more effort to drive a manual car in a traffic jam (with that constant half-clutch as well!), you’ll reach your destination somewhat faster, and that’s a big plus.

Winner: Manual

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Driving in car parks

Image: Lucy Liu /
Image: Lucy Liu /

Auto car is the clear winner.

Disregarding the fact that there’re many slopes in the car parks of shopping malls, stopping your car at the gantry when there’s a slope isn’t for the faint-hearted. One lapse of concentration and your car will roll back, and if there’s another behind you, good luck.

Winner: Auto

Driving experience

Image: KPG Payless2 /
Image: KPG Payless2 /

Truth to be told, this is very subjective. Sometimes, I like the ease of driving an auto car, but sometimes, it bores me so much that I hope to shift some gear or have some action.


Winner: Draw

So, the verdict? Despite how much I diss my old manual car, they’re both equally good. But of course, with the impending self-driving cars, I guess it’s no longer going to matter soon.

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