Many motorists claim automatic circuits only old people would drive and automatic gearshifts are “boring” for people with limited mobility. Die-hard manual drivers, who have mostly never driven an automatic, also think that a manual gearshift is much sportier.
Nowadays, however, this is almost always wrong! In fact, it used to be the case that only a few people drove with automatic transmissions, mostly older ones, in order not to have to shift gears comfortably. At that time, automatic gearshifts were usually not yet mature, so that large “switch holes” between the gears have arisen. Today, however, the opposite is the case: Automatic transmissions stand for sportiness in most vehicles. Further developments, such as a Double clutch or Audi’s S-Tronic would not be feasible without automatic.
Why is an automatic transmission mostly interesting and sporty?
Easily explained: With a manual gearshift, for example, to accelerate from 0 to 100, you have to press the clutch after each gear, engage the next gear, release the clutch and accelerate.
An automatic transmission does all of that in usually less than a second: In an automatic car, there are only two pedals, accelerator and brake. When you accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h, you just stay put constant on the gas, the car changes gears fully automatically and much faster than you could by hand: This results in much faster acceleration. Vehicles with Double clutch or direct shift transmission are even faster: There is no need to change gears at all, since one gear is constantly engaged and is changed “fluently”.. Automatic vehicles today mostly have 7 or even 8 gears. (Regularly from e.g. BMW 5 Series, Audi A4, VW Golf or Mercedes C-Class) You can almost always choose between the “normal” and the “sporty” mode, with the latter the gears are extended further. In some vehicles, you can use shift paddles (“Tiptronic“) on the steering wheel (e.g. left gear up, right gear down) select the gear yourself and thus shift.
How do you drive an automatic car?
A few basic tips:
- Almost all vehicles have the following Positions for the shift knob:
- P: Parking mode. Here the vehicle stops, even if you take your foot off the brake
- N: idle
- D: Normal mode for driving
- S: Sport mode, in which the gears are extended longer (more consumption)
- R: reverse gear
- Important: The shift knob can only be operated when the brake is depressed.
- You hold your foot to stand constantly on the brakes. If you release the brake, the vehicle starts to roll at low speed. (“Creeper”) Also on the mountain. Thus, with automatic, the problem of starting uphill is completely eliminated.
- The car automatically shifts up and down while driving. You never have to worry about stalling the car.
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