Top 8 Best Small Automatic Cars
If you’re looking to buy a small automatic car you’ll know how hard it can be to find one. There’s no need to worry though, we’ve got you covered.
This guide is our pick of the top 8 small automatic cars on the market and will help you make a smart buying decision.
Not everyone can drive a manual, and for driving around town, an automatic is ideal.
Stop-start traffic, slowing down and speeding up again can be all be rather taxing on the old left leg, especially when all you want to do is get from A to B as quickly as possible. Buying a small automatic makes a lot of sense for a lot of people – especially those living in busy cities.
Most people associate automatics with large, luxury saloons or SUVs. However, if you look in the right places, there’s a whole host of smaller automatic cars on the market to choose from.
Once upon a time, an automatic gearbox meant a gas guzzling monster as they were so inefficient. But many of today’s auto ‘boxes are actually as cheap to run as manuals, if not more frugal and achieving better miles per gallon.
You’re probably looking to buy an automatic for one of two reasons:
- You have an automatic only driving license
- You’re after ease of use for quick trips around town
Manuals are a rare breed in many countries. Take the USA for example, you’d be hard pushed to find a manual in a dealership. In fact, just 3.9% of cars sold over there are manual, autos are just easier.
While we can’t help you to come to a conclusion on what’s best for you, automatic or manual, we can show you some of the best automatic small city cars. Read on to find out our top picks.
The best small automatic city cars to buy are reviewed below:
1. Suzuki Ignis
If you want a city car with tons of character, look no further than Suzuki’s tiny little Ignis. It looks more like a baby off-roader than a city car, but those butch looks make it stand out from what can be a rather bland crowd.
There’s a two-tone roof option to choose from, decals, spoilers, different grilles, you name it, and the Ignis can pretty much have it.
Not only super stylish but the little Ignis is also incredibly cheap. Now, you can’t get the automatic in the entry-level model. This means you have to go for the SZ-T trim which is middle of the range, the auto gearbox is an extra £800 so the total cost comes to £13,149.
So this Suzuki is incredibly affordable for a new car, but the Ignis is also frugal to run, returning excellent MPG figures. With its 1.2 litres you could get up to 58 MPG. The whole car weighs in at just 865 kg. Its super light weight means you get far more miles per tank than other cars in the segment.
Annoyingly the Suzuki Ignis AllGrip all wheel drive model can’t be optioned with an automatic gearbox.
Price: Starts from £13,149 as an automatic
- Funky looks
- Cheap to own run and insure
- Styling won’t be for everyone
- Cramped rear seats aren’t great for adults
2. Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Now the Yaris Hybrid has been around for years now. They pair a fairly low powered 1.5-litre petrol with a hybrid battery system to give you a combined power figure of 100 HP.
You can only get the Yaris Hybrid in automatic form, as it meshes together the petrol engine and electric motors through a CVT gearbox. These aren’t like regular automatics and work as a continuously variable metal band.
This often means CVT’s are far smoother than any other type of gearbox, they almost feel like driving an electric car at times.
What’s good about the Yaris is that the Hybrid power train can even be put in the entry-level Active model, that means prices start from just £15,995.
Just be careful what size wheels you choose though, the Yaris Hybrid only gains the ‘no congestion charge’ badge if you’re under the 75g/km of CO2. That means the higher end models with bigger wheels emit more pollution, so you still have to pay.
Choose wisely if you’re buying a small automatic city car for London use.
Oh, and don’t expect incredible MPG, the Yaris Hybrid often returns the same miles per gallon as an average hatchback with a small engine.
But you do benefit from a healthy amount of rear space. With 5 doors. it’s incredibly practical to get passengers in and out of the back with ease.
Boot space also measures in at 286 litres which is more than a Ford Fiesta and a VW Polo.
Price: Starts at £15,995 in Active trim
- Great build quality
- Hybrid can be selected on even the cheapest model
- MPG isn’t as high as you’d think
- Performance is sluggish
3. Mazda 2
If you like driving then the Mazda 2 is the car to go for on this list. It’s so well balanced and handles incredibly for a small hatchback.
Couple that with the 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine and the automatic gearbox you’ll be on to a winner. Those quick trips to the shops will be even sweeter.
Now the auto gearbox does add a fair amount to the cost of a brand-new Mazda 2. It’s roughly £1,300 and can only be selected on the mid-range SE-L NAV+ and up. Which can bump up the price significantly over the entry level’s £13,795 price tag.
Mazda is one of the most underrated brands on the market today, their build quality is top notch and far surpasses that of Ford. They’ve also invested heavily into making their engines as clean and efficient as possible.
The 1.5-litre petrol sounds rather large, but it only emits 118 g/km of nasties with the automatic gearbox. For comparison, an auto Fiesta with a 1.0-litre turbo engine only pumps out 4g/km less.
You can also expect to get around 52 MPG and around 450 miles per tank from the Mazda 2.
Price: Starts from £16,695
- Rare, there aren’t many on the roads
- Fun handling
- Great build quality
- Fewer dealers than more mainstream brands
- New model is just around the corner
4. Renault Zoe
Seeing as we’re talking about small automatic city cars, we thought we’d throw in this as a leftfield choice. It’s all electric.
That means no more visits to the petrol station. Simply drive around, go home and plug it in. Just like your mobile phone.
If you need a top up while out and about you can make use of the myriad or chargers across the country. In fact, a vast majority of shopping destinations offer free parking for electric vehicles that need to charge. Win-win.
Renault’s Zoe works the same as any other automatic, just put it in drive and, well…drive. The only difference is that you might not even know it’s running due to its pure silence.
You can easily get over 120 miles per charge. Renault state a figure of 186 but that will be in optimum conditions and with a light right foot.
Charging from home takes 7-8 hours which means overnight will juice you back up, and a quick charge can be completed in 1 hour 40 minutes.
In terms of cost per mile, you could pay as little as 3p. The only downside is the price, £21,920 with a monthly battery rental, which you must have.
That means on top of the purchase cost you also need to fork out £59 a month, otherwise, the Zoe will cost upwards of £28k if you buy the battery outright.
Price: Starts from £21,220 plus battery rental
- Green, no emissions
- Never have to go to the petrol station again
- Instant acceleration
- Limited range compared to petrol or diesel cars
5. Kia Picanto
Kia’s relatively new Picanto is another small hatch with an auto ‘box. Since the original model, the latest version has become all grown up, offering superb build quality throughout and all the levels of tech you’d expect on much bigger, pricier cars.
Sadly, the automatic gearbox is only available on the 2, 3 and X-Line models. The sporty, mean looking GT-Line versions make do without.
That does, however, mean that the Picanto is the cheapest automatic small city car on our list, coming in at just £12,420 in the ‘2’ trim.
The auto Picanto misses out on the punchier 1.0-litre T-GDi turbo engine, but the 1.25 is still incredibly economical at 43.5 MPG. You’ll also benefit from Kia’s 7-year warranty, one of the longest in the business.
As with the smaller Suzuki Ignis, rear seat legroom is tight, so it’s best to think of the back seats as for occasional use.
Boot space is also pretty small at 255 litres, but it’s enough to get a few bags of shopping in, but anything more and the rear footwells will have to be used.
Price: Starts from £12,240
- Economical and cheap all-round
- Can select the X-Line SUV/soft roader model with an auto box
- Rear seat and boot space is tight
- Automatic can’t be specced on sportier, better-looking trims
6. Audi A1
Yes the A1 has grown in size for its second coming. It can only be had in a five door and it’s just a little smaller than its bigger brother the A3. But it’s still affordable if specced right, and it’s one of a few small cars available with an auto gearbox.
£19,250 will bag you an A1 in entry level SE trim, that means you get 15” alloys, LED lights all around, an 8.8” touch screen infotainment system and Audi’s smartphone interface system.
Engine wise is nothing spectacular at this price point, 999cc making 84 BHP and 200 Nm of torque. It gets to 62 from a standstill in 9.4 seconds, not quick but acceptable to live with.
The 7 speed S tronic gearbox is silky smooth as you’d expect from Audi, Urban MPG is rated at 48.7 which is a great figure for around town driving. Emissions are just 108 g/km which means a low rate of first year tax.
Boot space measures in at 335 litres which is 43 litres more than a Ford Fiesta.
Just be careful as prices can soon rocket when it comes to Audis, especially when you see the hundreds of options and combinations that can be specced. It soon turns a fairly affordable, premium vehicle into something costing double what a competitor would.
Price: From £19,250
- Can spec auto ‘box on entry level
- Modern looks
- Bigger than it’s predecessor
- Not really a ‘small’ car anymore
- Pricey options
7. Honda Jazz
Honda’s little Jazz may be seen as a car for the elderly, but with better than average handling and a decent selection of engines it could well be the perfect small city car. It also comes in auto form.
Powered by either a 1.3 or 1.5 litre engine the Jazz can be paired with a CVT automatic gearbox which has been given an overhaul for this latest iteration, making it drive far more like a manual.
The 1.3 litre produces 100 BHP and will get to 60 in 11.6 seconds, whereas the 1.5 has 128 bhp to play with and will achieve 60 from a standstill in 9.8 seconds.
Practicality is one of the Jazz’s best tricks, it can seat four adults in relative comfort and has a 354 litre boot.
MPG ranges from 57-61 depending on what engine you go for, either will be frugal around town but the 1.3 litre benefits in lower tax as it only produces 106 g/km of CO2.
Price: From £14,600
- High build quality
- Average looks
- Lack of in-depth options
8. Mini Hatchback
Everyone loves a Mini, their retro-modern styling has been a firm favourite with the public since BMW reintroduced the famous British name.
While it’s not the smallest of city cars it packs a lot of character for the money, and is arguably as premium as Audi’s A1.
Starting at £19,295 the Mini One Classic can be specced with an automatic gearbox, in fact most of the Mini range can be optioned with an auto, even the fire breathing Cooper S version.
It’s 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine musters 102 hp which gives it a 10.3 second 0-62 time, that gearbox is also a double clutch affair, meaning changes should be silky smooth.
In three door form the Mini is a little tight for rear seat occupants, so you may want to switch to the 5 door for more space.
Boot capacity measures in at 211 litres which is incredibly small for the size of car, even the Fiesta and Polo trump it by miles.
Price: From £19,299
- Well built
- Small boot
There we have it, five of the best small automatic city cars, from the cheapest we could find to something rather pricey and electric.
Although automatics are rare in city cars they do exist, just make sure you look through the various different trims, as sometimes they’re hidden away in higher spec models.
Want to find out more about city cars or maybe going fully electric?
If you don’t need an automatic but still want a car for around town check out our guides to the best small cars, and best city cars. If you live near work and drive purely for commuting why not switch to fully electric and see what we have to say in our ultimate guide to electric cars?
Alternatively, if you’re not ready to go fully electric, check out our guide to the best hybrid cars on the market.
After something more sizeable?
We have plenty of stuff for you too! Whether you’re looking for family car or SUV, we’ve got you covered. Check out the guides below!