In the past an automatic gearbox didn’t appeal to me
I thought it would make for a boring drive and naively assumed it was something ‘older’ people went for.
I was surprised to discover a colleague preferred to have an auto on long-term test.
But I’ve since come round to his way of thinking thanks to driving more automatics.
It doesn’t just make life easier on motorway journeys, it’s less hassle to drive round town too and arguably I’m a safer driver as I’m free to concentrate on the road ahead.
If you opt for a hybrid chances are you’ll have to get used to an automatic.
Manufacturers favour an automatic gearbox for hybrids because it helps manage power delivery from both engine and electric motor sources and, in particular, allows better clutch management.
Often it’s a CVT gearbox rather a conventional torque converter automatic transmission, because of their simplicity.
Toyota and Lexus use CVT for their hybrids (although BMW and Infiniti don’t), and the Jazz hybrid I’ve been driving for the past 11 months also uses CVT.
The theory is that a CVT is smooth and good at low speed as well as being inexpensive and efficient compared with the torque converter automatic gearboxes of the past.
My main complaint with the CVT is that, combined with the Eco button, it can feel slow. It can also be pretty noisy when I put my foot down.
The alternative is to turn off Eco, switch into sport mode and manually shift gears using the paddles beneath the steering wheel.
I find this handy when I need to overtake a slow-moving vehicle on a B-road, but it’s not something I often bother with and can’t imagine other drivers will either.
I also fear the impact on fuel economy.
Or maybe I’ve just got too used to auto.