Manual vs auto: which transmission ruled in lockdown level 3?

The Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Comfortline is SA's second most sold automatic.
The Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Comfortline is SA's second most sold automatic.
Image: Supplied

July saw a neck-on-neck race between automatics and manuals, with each enjoying identical shares of used car sales under lockdown level 3.

Both transmission types were each responsible for 50% of sales, but which specific models did South African motorists favour? An analysis of AutoTrader sales data for the month of July provides all the answers.

According to AutoTrader CEO George Mienie, it is now possible to reveal used car sales data down to variant and equipment level.

“This is thanks to AutoTrader’s structured car taxonomy data. This level of precise data has never before been available in the South African used car motor industry,” he said.

AutoTrader is the largest digital automotive marketplace in South Africa. Accordingly, it provides unparalleled insight into used car buying patterns in the country.

The analysis of auto versus manual sales provides some strong similarities and some stark differences too. For instance, the Toyota Fortuner 2.4GD-6 is the top-selling used vehicle with an automatic transmission, yet there isn’t a single Fortuner on the list of top-selling manuals, despite the vehicle being available with both gearboxes.

The average selling price of the Fortuner 2.4GD-6 in July was R420,350, the average mileage was 39,297 km while the average year model was 2019. A second Fortuner – the 2.8GD-6 4x4 – also appears on the list of top-selling used autos, but in eighth place.

Mienie said it was no surprise to see a Toyota top the list of automatic used car sales.

“This Japanese car maker has incredible brand equity - it’s a trusted and admired brand amongst the South African driving public,” he said.

The Volkswagen Polo Hatch, on the other hand, appears on both lists. The Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Comfortline – which recorded an average selling price of R211,469 – is the second most sold automatic. And the Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Trendline and Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Comfortline are the second and seventh-most sold manuals respectively.

Yet another Volkswagen model – the Polo Vivo 1.4 Trendline – is the best-selling used car with a manual transmission. It does not appear on the list of autos at all, despite being available with a Tiptronic transmission. The average selling price of this Polo Vivo was R170,835, the average mileage was 26,672 km and the average year model was 2019.

Mienie said finding this vehicle at the top of the manual list also came as no surprise.

“The Polo Vivo was the best-selling new passenger car in South Africa in 2019, with 29,619 vehicles sold. This locally manufactured model also topped the entry-level small cars, with a share of 24.5%. Hence the Vivo’s number one spot probably comes as no surprise either to Volkswagen, which just happens to be the passenger car market leader in South Africa.”

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