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Automatic or Manual: Which Should New Drivers Choose?

Close-up of a manual gear shift knob in a car

The expert in anything was once a beginner.

– Helen Hayes

Learning to drive is an exciting milestone, but one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to learn in an automatic or manual vehicle. Both options have their advantages and can influence your driving experience and future choices. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for your learning journey.

Automatic Vehicles


  • Ease of Use: Automatic vehicles are generally easier to drive because they don’t require manual gear changes. This allows new drivers to focus more on steering and road awareness rather than clutch control and gear shifting.
  • Less Stress: Especially in urban areas like Belfast, where traffic can be heavy, automatics can reduce the stress of stop-and-go driving.
  • Faster Learning Curve: With fewer controls to manage, many learners find they can get up to speed more quickly in an automatic car.


  • Limited to Automatic: If you pass your driving test in an automatic car, your licence will only allow you to drive automatics. You’ll need to take another test in a manual car if you want to drive one in the future.
  • Potentially Higher Costs: Automatic cars can sometimes be more expensive to buy and maintain, although this is changing with the increase in modern automatic and electric vehicles.

Manual Vehicles


  • Greater Control: Learning to drive a manual car gives you more control over the vehicle, which can be beneficial in various driving conditions, such as hilly or slippery roads.
  • Versatility: With a manual driving licence, you can drive both manual and automatic cars, offering greater flexibility.
  • Lower Costs: Generally, manual cars can be cheaper to purchase and maintain compared to their automatic counterparts.


  • Complexity: Manual cars require coordination of the clutch, gear stick, and accelerator, which can be challenging for new drivers to master.
  • Longer Learning Curve: It can take longer to become proficient in driving a manual car due to the added complexity of gear changes.

Consider Your Environment

Living in Belfast or another urban area might influence your decision. If you frequently navigate city traffic, an automatic might offer a more relaxed driving experience. Conversely, if you plan to drive in more rural areas around Northern Ireland, where roads can be winding and hilly, the control offered by a manual vehicle might be more beneficial.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the choice between automatic and manual driving lessons comes down to personal preference and your future driving needs. Consider your comfort level, the type of driving you’ll be doing, and your long-term goals. At Taggart Transport Training, we offer both automatic and manual driving lessons to suit your needs and help you become a confident driver, no matter which type of vehicle you choose.

Contact us today to discuss your options and book your first lesson. We’re here to support you every step of the way on your driving journey in Belfast and beyond.