It’s been a couple of weeks since I got my new car. It’s a 2009 Toyota Avensis 2.0 in T4 trim . One of the reasons that swayed my decision in favour of this car was that it was an Automatic, and auto boxes are not really very popular in the UK (though they do seem to be gaining popularity as auto boxes become better at dealing with low power out put engines as you mostly find in Europe).
This is the closest I’ll get to driving a “barge” keeping in mind the practicalities of car-ownership and living in a small, crowded country. So a large, automatic saloon is what I got.
Why I wanted an Automatic
- Driving in traffic becomes less tiring (and you have a lot of that in the London region).
- I had never had an Automatic before.
- Yep, takes the stress of the daily commute straight out. It’s partly due to the auto, but also partly due to the ride and the silence of the cabin.
- The first week or so I “loved” the auto box to bits.
It’s been a couple of weeks driving the car and it’s gorgeous to drive. Smooth, pliant ride (it weighs 50kgs more than a Lexus IS so you can imagine how that affects the ride). I’m pleased with everything except…the gearbox. With each passing day I love the automatic less and less and today, for the first time, I drove it in manual mode all the way to work.
What I miss about driving a manual
- It’s more like “driving”
- You’re the one in control
- You can control the power delivery around bends
- Engine braking in medium traffic when you’re still moving
- You decide when the revs are adequate to shift up or down
Driving it in auto but with the Sport mode on does help a little bit in terms of response, but it’s not the same thing.
What’s the worst thing about driving an automatic?
- The neutral drive and the power delivery that is almost too smooth for comfort.
- High use of the brake pedal (since no engine braking)
- Driving is becoming boring
So now I slip it into Manual mode whenever possible. It’s not quite the same (because though you can downshit at will, it won’t let you upshift as you please), but it’ll do.
Would I buy an Automatic again?
Depends on how lazy I feel when I buy my next car. But probably not. I’d probably get a more powerful engine with a manual transmission. For the moment, I’m going to sit back and enjoy my boring but relaxed drives in my new Avensis.