I do often wonder though if FE "freaks" (like me) tend to buy manuals and those that are not as concerned about FE buy autos, which in itself could skew the results. Again nothing against autos, they certainly have their place.
In the old days the difference between manuals and autos was huge , both in performance and FE.
But over the last 15 years in particular the auto's have improved a lot in both departments.
I enjoy both , but for different reasons. and although manuals still have the upper hand , I wouldn't feel too guilty in owning a modern auto.