Small cars with automatic gearboxes are easy to drive – especially around town, where their dinky dimensions help you nip through tight spaces and squeeze into tight parking spaces. If this sounds like your perfect car, we’ve rounded up the 10 best small cars with automatic gearboxes on sale to help you pick the perfect model.
If you don’t spot your favourite car here, read our list of the 10 best small cars on sale for a selection of alternatives. If you’ve already picked the perfect car, click ‘login’ in the top-right-hand corner to sign up and configure a brand-new model or browse our extensive selection of pre-reg, ex-demo, new, nearly new and used cars.
[2018 update: The compact and affordable Skoda Citigo takes first place on our list, closely followed by the upmarket VW Up and the MINI hatchback. Two electric cars, the BMW i3 and Renault Zoe, make their first appearances in sixth and eighth places respectively, while the cheap-and-cheerful Peugeot 108 rounds out the top 10.]
Here are the best small automatic cars on sale now:
- Skoda Citigo
- Volkswagen Up
- Mini Hatchback
- Hyundai i10
- Suzuki Ignis
- BMW i3
- Kia Picanto
- Renault Zoe
- Honda Jazz
- Peugeot 108
1. Skoda Citigo
The dinky Skoda Citigo is an upmarket city car that’s dead easy to drive and comes with a surprisingly practical cabin – for such a small car, at least. It’s just about roomy enough inside to carry four adults – on short journeys – and there’s space in the boot to squeeze a small weekly shop. It’s cheaper than the nearly identical VW Up and SEAT Mii, too, and its frugal petrol engines mean it’s just as cheap to run.
The 60hp and 75hp models come with the option of a five-speed automatic gearbox. It’ll set you back between £325 and £645 across the range, and it isn’t particularly smooth at very slow speeds – such as when you’re parking – but it’ll certainly help give your left leg a rest in stop-start traffic.
2. VW Up
The VW Up looks almost identical to the Skoda Citigo, but it comes with slightly flashier styling and a posher cabin with more soft materials and a few fancy dashboard graphics. Its fuel-sipping engines mean it’ll be just as cheap to run, too.
Unfortunately, it’s slightly more expensive than the Skoda, and its optional automatic gearbox is similarly jerky when you’re parking. This five-speed unit will only set you back an extra £430 to £600 across the Up range, however, and makes the VW a doddle to drive in heavy traffic.
3. Mini Hatchback
The MINI Hatchback is well worth a look if you’re searching for something a bit larger. The retro styling (both inside and out) certainly helps it stand out in a supermarket car park and you get one of the most intuitive infotainment systems of any small car on sale. Precise steering and perky engines help make the MINI good fun to drive and you can even personalise your car with vinyl stickers for the exterior and some personalised 3D-printed badges on the wings.
Other small cars are more comfortable around town, and the MINI’s cabin does get a little noisy at motorway speeds. It’s quite a bit more expensive than some more practical small cars too, but the optional automatic gearbox makes this three-door model very easy to drive, especially around town. It’ll set you back £1,380 more than a manual across the range.
4. Hyundai i10
The Hyundai i10 is a small city car that’s impressively comfortable around town and comes with a practical five-door body as standard. Combine this with some reasonably spacious back seats (for a small car, at least) and you’ll have no trouble carrying three adult passengers on short journeys.
Sadly, you’ll have to fork out for a top-spec model if you want a touchscreen infotainment system and the i10’s fairly weedy petrol engine means it’ll struggle to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic. The optional four-speed automatic isn’t particularly responsive, but it changes gear smoothly and doesn’t cause the car to jerk forward at slow speeds – unlike some small automatic cars. It’ll cost you £650 more than the manual across the i10 range.
5. Suzuki Ignis
The Suzuki Ignis is a chunky-looking small car that combines city car manoeuvrability with a hint of SUV off-road ability. Unlike most cars this size, you can get it with four-wheel drive and its relatively tall body makes it very easy to climb in and out of. The raised roof means passenger headroom is pretty good for such a small car, too, and there’s even an optional hybrid system to help reduce fuel consumption.
Sadly, it’s not quite as comfortable to drive as some other small cars, and the standard infotainment system isn’t particularly intuitive. Thankfully, the Ignis’ nippy 1.2-litre petrol engine and lightweight body make it surprisingly fun on a country road, and – if you go for an automatic model – it’s also a doddle to drive around town. Automatic models cost £800 more than manual versions across the Ignis range.
6. BMW i3
The BMW i3 is an electric car with space-age styling, a futuristic interior and an impressive range of approximately 200 miles between charges. If that doesn’t sound like enough, you can get it with a range-extending petrol engine for extra £3,150. The infotainment system is one of the best in the business, too, and the electric motor delivers rapid acceleration that makes the i3’s surprisingly nippy for a compact city car.
You’ll feel a few more bumps through the seat than in some other conventional city cars and the i3’s quite a bit more expensive than most alternatives on our list. It’s dead easy to drive, however – there aren’t any gears to worry about – and it’s fairly relaxing to potter around town in, thanks to the near-silent running of its electric motor.
7. Kia Picanto
The Kia Picanto shares lots of mechanical bits and bobs with the Hyundai i10, so it’s just as easy to drive and comes with a similarly roomy interior. There’s space in the Kia’s back seats for adults to get relatively comfortable on short journeys and its boot is easily big enough for a weekly shop.
You’ll have to splash out for a high-spec GT Line S model if you want any kind of colour touchscreen infotainment system, however, and whichever Picanto you go for, you’ll find it’s a little bumpy on rough roads. The optional four-speed automatic gearbox isn’t particularly responsive, either, but at least it’s smooth and quiet around town. It’ll set you back an extra £650 over a manual model across the Picanto range.
8. Renault Zoe
The Renault Zoe is a compact electric car that’s easy to drive, reasonably affordable and just about big enough to carry five adults on short journeys. Inside, you get a simple, easy-to-use interior with a digital driver’s display instead of conventional analogue instruments, a central touchscreen and some upmarket glossy trims on the dashboard. It even comes with an impressively big boot for a small electric car.
Unfortunately, the Zoe doesn’t do a particularly good job of ironing out potholes and its electric motor will struggle to keep up with motorway traffic. Still, it doesn’t have any gears for you to worry about and the almost silent electric motor makes is perfectly suited to nipping around town. Top-spec models even come with an impressive 250-mile range.
9. Honda Jazz
The Honda Jazz is a compact, but still very practical, city car that’s spacious enough in the back to carry two adults – or three kids – comfortably. The boot is relatively roomy, too, and you can even flip the rear-seat bases up to carry very tall luggage behind the front seats. It’s easy to drive, too, especially around town, where its large windows give you an excellent view out, and its small size makes it easy to park.
The Jazz isn’t quite as comfortable as some alternatives over bumpy roads, however, and the infotainment system can be pretty frustrating to use. The optional CVT gearbox makes the engine drone rather loudly when you accelerate hard, too, but it does help make light work of heavy stop-start traffic. It costs just over £1,000 more than a manual across the range.
10. Peugeot 108
The Peugeot 108 is a small city car that’s easy to drive in town thanks to its size, light controls and small turning circle. It’s reasonably practical for such a small car, too – especially if you pick a five-door model – and has just enough space in the back seats for two adults to sit comfortably on short journeys.
Sure, the boot might be quite small – even for a car this size – the 108 doesn’t feel quite as well built as the likes of a VW Up and it’s quite noisy at motorway speeds, but the optional automatic gearbox (which will set you back between £500 and £1,340) makes nipping through tight city streets a doddle.
Save money on your next car
See how much you could save on your next new car by heading over to the new car deals page. If you’re still not sure which car is the one for you, take a look at our car chooser or read our top 10 list of the best small cars on sale.