Automatic transmission popularity is such that the original purchase price of the gearbox is often more than recouped when the car is sold, according to EurotaxGlass’s, publishers of Glass’s Guide to Used Car Values.
The firm adds that premiums will increase with the size of car. A six-month-old Mercedes-Benz A-class with an automatic gearbox will attract a £750 premium over the same model with manual transmission. But on a C-class of the same age the premium widens to £1,650. On a CLK or E-class the gap is £1,925 and an M-class SUV will attract a premium of £2,500, more than £1,000 more than the original £1,450 cost of the automatic option.
The premium increases the further up the engine range you go. A BMW 318i SE with an automatic transmission is worth an additional £1,000 after six months, but for larger-engined versions within the same model range, the premium increases in clear steps – £1,450 for the 320 SE, £1,625 for the 325 SE and £1,925 for the 330 SE.
Richard Crosthwaite, prestige car editor at EurotaxGlass’s, said: ‘Recent advances in technology have yielded improvements in the driving dynamics and fuel economy of automatic gearboxes, boosting demand across both the new and used prestige car markets.
‘There is little doubt that the increases in residual values appear to be sustainable in the coming months, although we doubt that the recent upward trend will continue at its current rate.’
Jeff Knight, forecast manager at CAP Motor Research, agreed that automatics were becoming more desirable.
He said: ‘The market is moving forward very gently. It’s not an automatic revolution but people’s acceptability has certainly improved immeasurably year on year.’
He put the change down to an ageing population that enjoys the ease of automatic use, and increased reliability in gearbox technology.
Knight also said that while the premiums were most noticeable in the prestige market, it was a trend repeated throughout the used vehicle industry.