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Automatic transmission gearstick

by Spreet Aulakh 15th November 2018

Automatic V Manual – Do they depreciate differently?

A study of automatic cars found they depreciated at the same rate, or slightly less, than the manual equivalent, although they were £1000 more expensive, on average.

Automatic cars have risen in popularity in recent years with 40% of all new cars registered in 2017 featuring an automatic gearbox. Today, there are 8.4 million automatics on the road, which is double the number in 2007. (Source SMMT).

InsuretheGap.com, a leading provider of GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insurance, looked at how quickly a manual or automatic model depreciated over a three and five-year period. It surveyed five different types of cars, the BMW 1 Series M135i, Audi S3 TFSI, VW Golf TSI R, Fiat 500 POP and SEAT Leon TSI FR, to provide an overview.

In three of the five cars (the BMW 1 Series, the Audi S3 and the FIAT 500 POP) the automatic version recorded a slower depreciation than the manual, and in two cases (VW Golf TSI R and the Seat Leon TSI FR) they depreciated at exactly the same rate. (Please see table below for full data).

The BMW 1 Series eight-speed automatic is a popular choice for car owners, compared to the standard six-speed manual. It costs £31,601 new in 2012, which by 2018 was worth £13,500, and held its value slightly better than the manual version, depreciating by 57% in this five-year time period, compared to the manual’s 60% depreciation.

The Audi S3 automatic also held its value slightly better than the manual, depreciating by 54% from 2012 to 2018, compared to 56%. The automatic 6 speed gearbox was £600 more expensive, however, when bought new in 2012.

The Fiat 500 POP automatic (5 speed) version also depreciated less quickly than the manual (6 speed) version, depreciating by 66% from 2012 to 2018, compared to 67%.

The VW Golf TSI R manual (6 speed) and automatic (6 speed) both depreciated by 49% from 2012 to 2018, with the automatic version costing £1,300 more in 2012. Similarly, the SEAT Leon TSI FR manual and automatic versions both depreciated by 71% over the time period.

Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Office for InsuretheGap.com, said: “It’s easy to see why drivers are attracted to an automatic gearbox, particularly if they live in urban areas. Facing that constant stop-start, stop-start is the bane of most city dwellers lives making an automatic car a great choice, and the slightly higher price tag is probably worth it for the convenience alone.

“When buying a car, it definitely pays to do your homework on depreciation rates, particularly if you like to upgrade every few years, so it’s reassuring to know that automatic cars hold their value as well, and sometimes better, than a manual car,” Wooltorton continued.

Depreciation can also affect the amount of money that car owners can claim from their insurance company in the event that their car is written off or stolen. If a car is written off or stolen, the insurance company will usually only pay the market value of the car, not what was paid for it, so drivers could be facing a potential ‘gap’ in their finances, particularly if they still have a finance agreement or loan to pay off.

A GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insurance policy from a specialist insurance provider, like InsuretheGap, protects drivers from this and tends to be significantly cheaper than those offered by car dealerships. InsuretheGap.com sells GAP policies from just £54.55* for vehicles worth up to £150,000. It covers ‘gaps’ up to £50,000.

Table 1 – InsuretheGap.com used Glass’s data in October 2018 to compile the survey. All the valuations are based on average mileages.

Key: Manual in Black, Automatic in Purple.

Car Make/Model 2011/2012 Price (New) 2015 Valuation 2018 Valuation Depreciation 2012 - 2015 Depreciation 2012 - 2018
BMW 1 Series M135i
manual 6 speed
£30,125 £19,200 £12,100 36% 60%
BMW 1 Series M135i
auto 8 speed
£31,610 £19,200 £13,500 39% 57%
Audi S3 TFSI
manual 6 speed
£32,085 £20,750 £14,040 35% 56%
Audi S3 TFSI
auto 6 speed
£32,605 £22,000 £15,000 33% 54%
VW Golf TSI R
manual 6 speed
£31,508 £19,700 £16,100 37% 49%
VW Golf TSI R
auto 6 speed
£32,875 £20,500 £16,800 38% 49%
FIAT 500 POP
manual 6 speed
£10,700 £4,900 £3,540 54% 67%
FIAT 500 POP
auto 6 speed
£11,430 £5,140 £3,890 55% 66%
SEAT Leon TSI FR
manual 6 speed
£20,215 £8,710 £5,780 57% 71%
SEAT Leon TSI FR
auto 6 speed
£21,375 £8,710 £6,180 56% 71%

* The starting price for InsuretheGap.com policies is £54.55 (Return to invoice for a car worth £9,999)

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