Auto vs Manual Cars: Which One is Truly Cheaper in the Long Run?

It’s time to answer this burning, almost age-old question, do automatic transmission vehicles cost more, or are manual transmission vehicles much cheaper?

If you’re one of those geniuses who can drive both a manual transmission and an automatic, which would you choose to buy based on pocket-friendliness? We’ve got the numbers to help you figure it all out! To that end, we looked at car price, fuel consumption efficiency as well as maintenance costs to see which category of transmission vehicle wins.

To compare, we’ve chosen four cars randomly, with zero favouritism; the Perodua Myvi, Perodua Axia, the Toyota Vios and the Proton Saga. Now let’s put them to the test!

Car Make and Model Price in RM (West Malaysia) Maintenance Cost in RM (Service at 50,000km) Fuel Consumption
Axia 1.0 Standarad G - Manual 32,127 182 21.6 km/l
Axia 1.0 Standard G - Auto 35,127 182 20.1 km/l
MyVi 1.3 Standard G - Manual 40,862 154 18.1 km/l
MyVi 1.3 Standard G - Auto 43,862 154 16.7 km/l
Vios 1.5 J - Manual 77,980 280 17.2 km/l
Vios 1.5 J - Auto 81,880 280 14.9 km/l
Saga SV - Manual 33,438 359 16.7 km/l
Saga SV - Auto 36,438 203 15.8 km/l
*Figures have been rounded off and are sourced from the official websites of Perodua, Toyota, and Proton.

It's important to note, while all care has been taken to provide you with the most accurate information available at the time of writing, do contact your dealer for personal estimates. Now, let's look at what the figures mean!

  1. Car Price Based on the brands and models surveyed, all manual transmission versions registered a lower price range with the excess averaging around RM2,000 to RM4,000 in its individual variant.

  2. Fuel Consumption Manual cars are on average lighter than its auto counterparts and are sometimes fitted with fewer bells and whistles. Thus, the energy needed to power these cars tends to be lower as well. All the cars reviewed here show lower fuel consumption for manual transmission cars as expected.

  3. Maintenance Costs The service fees for the automatic and manual transmission of Axia, Myvi and Vios models are the same (as are the costs for standard parts replacements). The Saga on the other hand, shows servicing will cost more for the manual at 50,000km. Clearly, the brand, model and usage needs of the driver are a better determiner of cost than transmission in this case.

Other Factors to Consider

Even though it’s clear that manual transmission cars have the propensity to save you more money, your level of ease when driving shouldn’t be overlooked. Sure, automatics are generally more expensive to buy and maintain but to some, the relative effortlessness of driving in traffic-ridden city roads may compensate for the added costs.

Are you in the market to purchase your very own ride? Then do give our car loan comparison page a look-see to find a financing package that really drives you, pun intended!


Agree or disagree with this post? Questions? You also have your word!

  • Kai

    Nowdays, cvt come into market and several car maker claimed cvt are better in fuel consumption and might better than manual... Hope author do some research on cvt too... Let us know more about cvt, is it true or just an advertising claim...

    • RinggitPlus

      Hey Kai,

      We will keep that in mind for future content.

      Thank you.

    • Yeohhk01

      Why is just 50k service? how about the major services which will show the true cost of ownership.. a 40k, 80k, 120k service can easily reach rm800-1000

      • RinggitPlus

        Hi Yeohhk1,

        Good question. We were using 50,000 km to standardise the comparison basis. You are right that it may differ even further when compared at more data points.

        We will keep the feedback in mind for our future articles.

        Thank you very much.

      • SL

        Do also consider the looming clutch change when it's worn. Again also dependent on usage condition, but can be a rather costly proposition.

        • RinggitPlus

          Hi SL,

          Good point. We were making basic comparison of the two transmissions. We will take your suggestion to add other factors into the equation for future articles.

          Thank you.

        • Henry Lee

          My family prefer to drive Manual as the maintenance cost is far lesser & more reliable than auto over a 10-20 year period. I used to have an auto car but as it died & cost of repair became unreasonable, I decided to switch back to Manual. What I want now is to buy a higher cc sedan or SUV MT version. Overall the ease of using the MT gearbox & instant response the way you want far superseed what any auto can do. The only auto I will likely buy in the future will be a fully EV car that does not utilise any gearbox & you get instant response on the tap.

          • miracle

            some and clear comparison

            • Harmon Goh

              Sometimes we are forced to buy automatic because most car manufacturers offer only basic versions of their cars with manual transmisssion as in my case in year 2015, only Myvi with 1.3 litre engine with manual transmission is the standard version and it does not come with ABS, front parking sensor , fog lights and many other accessories that I wanted.

              • Chan

                Cvt are the worst thing that ever happened in auto industry. The most expensive and short life span as it work on belt friction. Go YouTube. Don't buy a cvt.