1.8 although is a bigger engine, 1.5 would be more fun to drive because it has more torque, so off the line acceleration would be better. I'm expecting at least a 1-2 seconds faster to 60mph.
I used to prefer the manual as well, however, manual absolutely sucks in stop and go traffic which is what Lahore has become in the past 10 years, so you just end up needlessly changing gears all the time. When you go to motorway, then you're just driving in the 5th gear all the time, so again not much practicality in getting a manual anymore. I really hope they introduce the CVT transmission with shift paddles, as in my personal experience they are a nice option when you suddenly wanna drop a couple of gears and accelerate hard.