Currently reading: Best small automatic cars in 2024
As more drivers switch to an automatic gearbox, we run through the best smaller options

With each passing year, more and more drivers are picking an automatic gearbox over a traditional manual. 

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), 324,064 driving tests from 2022 to 2023 were completed in an automatic car. 

While that’s far fewer than the 1.36 million manual tests taken in the same period, it’s still an increase of 360% compared with 15 years ago.  

There are a few likely reasons behind this, including the rising number of electric cars, which don’t have a traditional gearbox, plus the falling number of other cars on sale that offer a manual gearbox. 

It also means many new drivers will be hunting for a car with an automatic gearbox as their first wheels, and those on a lower budget will be looking at many of the great small car options on sale in the UK. 

So which are the best small cars with an automatic gearbox on sale in the UK right now? Check out our top 10 list below. We’ve excluded electric cars from this list but you can read about our top 10 electric cars here.

The best small cars with an automatic gearbox

1. Renault Clio


The new Renault Clio has a choice of two engines: a 1.0-litre petrol and a frugal E-Tech hybrid. 

Only the latter comes with an automatic gearbox, but both are great options on the road. 

The Clio E-Tech hybrid produces 143bhp and power is managed by a four-speed automatic with two electric motors.

It’s frugal too, with a claimed efficiency of 67.3mpg. It’s the cheapest hybrid on sale in the UK today, starting from £21,495.

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2. Seat Ibiza


The Seat Ibiza is another great option if you’re after a small car with an automatic gearbox.

While the Spanish supermini is sold with a five-speed manual as standard, the sportier FR trim and above get the option of a seven-speed automatic transmission. 

It’s partnered with the Volkswagen Group’s excellent 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 113bhp and offers a 0-62mph time of 10.3sec.

It is pricier than the Clio - it starts from £23,590 - but you do get some decent equipment as standard, including LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, lots of safety kit and cruise control.

3. Skoda Fabia


Like the Ibiza, the Skoda Fabia is a Volkswagen Polo underneath, so you’ve got the same 1.0-litre TSI petrol offering with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

It comes in at £21,780, which is a slight saving over the Seat, though. 

We’re big fans of the Skoda Fabia because it’s roomy and practical and has a genuinely user-friendly interior.

What's more, it rides better than some luxury cars on the market - a big boost to its appeal as an everyday runaround. It’s not quite as fun to drive as the Ibiza, but it’s a great small car in its own right.

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4. Toyota Yaris


Yet another great supermini on this list, the Toyota Yaris is offered with an automatic gearbox as standard, but things are slightly different here.

It’s an e-CVT, which is programmed to select the most efficient gear itself. Thankfully, on the surface, it works the same as a traditional automatic. 

The Yaris is priced from £22,640, which makes it one of the cheapest of its kind on sale today. Things are made even more simple because there is just one engine option, a 1.5-litre hybrid petrol unit.

Power - 114bhp on this Yaris - is matched with class-leading frugality, with up to a claimed 70.6mpg on offer.

That figure is genuinely achievable in day-to-day driving too. It’s no slouch, either: you can hit 0-62mph in 9.7sec.

5. Jeep Avenger


After its heralded arrival as an EV, Jeep's compact crossover gained a mild-hybrid petrol option, which brings a near-£10,000 saving and - you guessed it - an automatic gearbox.

It’s the same six-speed dual-clutch automatic as in the Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208 - both are, like the Jeep, part of the Stellantis stable - with a gearbox-mounted electric motor. 

The electric motor and gearbox combination boosts performance by 30% in the mid-range but it can be slow to change up or down when you want it to.

That said, it’s still a good alternative to the all-electric and manual options offered in the Avenger line-up. Power stands at 127bhp and torque is 151lb ft, which should be more than enough for most drivers. 

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6. Hyundai i20


The Hyundai i20 is a stylish option that isn't the driver of sales it once was, but it still has an important role to play. 

It's available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and although it is not the most spritely option, it is nevertheless fairly frugal, offering 52.3mpg. 

The gearbox is mated to a 1.0-litre turbocharged engine with just 99bhp. That said, it's a pleasant small car. Just don't expect fireworks.

7. Toyota Aygo X


The second Toyota on our list of the best small cars with an automatic gearbox is the Aygo X - a compact crossover best described as an Aygo on stilts.

It packs a 1.0-litre petrol engine (no turbocharger here, mind) with 70bhp, which on paper looks a bit measly and underpowered. It’s not bad in town, but that claimed 0-62mph of 14.8sec is telling. 

Because it’s not a hybrid, it’s much cheaper than the larger Yaris, though. You’ll need to spend £17,245 for the basic 1.0-litre engine with an S-CVT gearbox - or ‘small’ CVT.

In our view, the Aygo X's interior is value motoring perfected, with brilliant ergonomics and technology. Refinement is great too. 

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8. Honda Jazz


There’s just one engine available on the Honda Jazz and just one gearbox option too.

The Jazz comes with an e-CVT and is priced from £26,395. That makes it one of the more expensive options on this list.

It’s a full hybrid, unlike the Avenger and the Corsa, so it can deliver electric-only driving at low speeds, with the engine effectively working as a generator to charge the battery that feeds the motor.

You’ll get good fuel economy too, with Honda claiming a combined average of 62.8mpg.

9. Peugeot 208/Vauxhall Corsa


The Peugeot 208 is mechanically similar to the Vauxhall Corsa and that includes its six-speed automatic transmission, which is fitted with an electric motor.

According to Peugeot, the hybrid offers 15% lower fuel consumption than the regular petrol car.

A choice of power options is available – either 100bhp or 136bhp, with prices starting from £23,310 for the latter.

That’s around £1000 more than the cheapest Corsa hybrid. Ultimately, both are refined, comfortable and good to drive - so it’ll be down to how stylish you are… 

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10. Mini Cooper

Okay, it's not quite here yet. But the new Mini Cooper will receive a makeover for its new generation.

It will be offered only as an automatic, with two options: a standard or sport dual-clutch automatic. While the standard auto will cost you £23,135, the sport version will start from £26,635. 

The new Mini comes with some decent equipment as standard, including a heated steering wheel, a huge circular infotainment display, LED headlights, parking assistance and a suite of safety technology. 

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LP in Brighton 7 April 2024

For me these would be models to avoid because I like the extra involvement that comes with manual transmission. But I would concede that an automatic is better for exclusive town driving. And I do do admire the relative simplicity and sheer efficiency of the two Japanese hybrids. 

As I see it, the one thing lacking with all autos is their ability to anticipate situations - and if you have to use a manual over-ride to select a lower gear (to overtake, for example), then you may as well have a manual in the first place.