The answer is, in my humble opinion (and taking in concern the feelings of stick shift lovers out there) that the winner nowadays is an automatic transmission with an addition to CVT (continuously variable transmissions).
New age automatics accelerate faster, because of more and more improved technology based on it.
Here are some tiebreakers:
To be fair and not so harsh to manual shifting nation, it does still have some advantages, like fuel consumption in terms of economy, or downshifting. For example, a suitable driver knows how to anticipate where his car will be in the next period of time, so he can react and apply the gear accordingly when the vehicle starts moving downhill. That’s it for the manual lovers, let’s move on…
“ We are now seeing automatic transmissions with nine and even ten speeds, so there’s a lot of technology in modern automatics. The DCT once had two advantages: it was light, and it’s shift speeds were higher. Now, a lot of that shift-time advantage has disappeared as automatics get better and smarter.” BMW M’s vice president of sales and marketing, Peter Quintus
DCT or Dual Clutch Transmission in the quote above, where You saw a perfect example of automatic transmission p r a i s e done by just one of the people of one of many respected auto brands in the world.
Also, I should mention how automatics’ interior looks way too cooler than one of manual’s.
Like this Lamborghini Huracan Spyder interior.
But, M A I N L Y, the vast variety of sports car enthusiasts that will take automatic over manual is on the most significant rise in history which pretty much states the obvious and all above written about AT’s, which in return adds up on the number of videos on the net showing us some VS battles of stock cars with different trans, like this drag race between these two Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats with 8-speed auto and 6-speed manual:
Where AT one wins by more than a second of advantage!
Still, have a hard time believing that an automatic or CVT is faster than your beloved manual gearbox? Consider this: If a manual transmission was indeed the fastest option available, why would some high-end manufacturers (Ferrari, Lamborghini as just some of many), drop the manual entirely?
In addition, CVT is considered as the standard gearbox for the modern vehicles that deliver faster performance!