The extra price of an automatic transmission over a manual is often now more than recouped when a prestige vehicle comes to be sold.
On a six-month-old Mercedes A-class the residual value premium for a car with an automatic gearbox compared to one without is around £750. Move up to a C-class of the same age and that premium increases to £1,650. On a CLK or E-class the margin widens to £1,925, and for an M-class SUV it is £2,500 - well above the original £1,450 cost of the automatic option.
The premium also increases the further up the engine range you go. For example, 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.
“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,” says Richard Crosthwaite, prestige car editor at EurotaxGlass’s.
“There is little doubt the increases in residual values appear to be sustainable in the coming months, although we doubt the recent upward trend will continue at its current rate.”
The following examples illustrate how the residual value premium for an automatic transmission has grown during the past two years. Although this data relates to six-month-old cars, EurotaxGlass’s reports a similar pattern with older vehicles.
Model (increase in premium for automatic gearbox over last two years)
Audi A4 Cabriolet 3.0 Sport (+£375)
Jaguar S-Type 3.0 Sport (+£375)
Mercedes CLK 270 CDI Elegance (+£500)
Saab 9-3 Vector Sport (+£75)