Best Small Automatic Cars
If you’re after a compact car that comes with the option for easy-driving automatic transmission, read on. In this article, we take a look at 10 of the best small automatic cars on the road today. Some of these models are also available with manual transmission, so be sure to check before buying. Whether you’re looking for compact prestige or low-hassle practicality, check out this list to find the best option for you.
1. Hyundai i10
The Hyundai i10 is a compact, petrol-powered city car with an equally fun-sized price tag. Despite its small stature, it seats five and offers plenty of legroom for all passengers. Inside, the i10 is comfortable and has a high-quality infotainment system – especially the models from the fancy N-Line trim. You may find that the little petrol engine struggles a bit on the motorway but, overall, the i10 is easy to steer at all speeds. Plus, it offers fantastic efficiency at over 50 mpg. Finally, while it does lack parking sensors, great rear visibility and easy manoeuvring mean this isn’t a major issue. Practical, reliable and well-made, the i10 is one of the best small automatic cars on the market.
2. Audi A1
Combining luxury features with easy driving, the Audi A1 is a premium small car that offers quattro all-wheel drive as well as several engine types. Rear parking sensors, heated door mirrors, cruise control and touchscreen infotainment are standard across all models. Second generation iterations released in 2018 have even more up-to-date tech. Both petrol and diesel versions feel agile and responsive on the road, and sport suspension is available on some trims. It’s powerful too, offering a top speed of 126 mph.When it comes to space, the A1’s backseat is best-suited for kids as it’s tight on headroom – though Sportback options do have more space for adults. Both three-door and five-door models offer plenty of boot space, too.
3. Honda Jazz
Despite its compact dimensions, the Honda Jazz offers a huge boot and roomy interior that’s great for transporting passengers or their stuff. Although not luxury in feel, it’s plenty comfortable, with enough backseat space for adults. All of the passenger seats can be rearranged into a number of different configurations, which is a handy feature. Newer models feature touchscreen infotainment, though the interior still feels a little dated. The performance isn’t meant to blow you away, but it’s reliable and fairly cheap to run – just be aware that the 1.3-litre petrol engine and automatic gearbox struggle a little on the motorway. For everyday runs and town driving, the Jazz is an ideal companion.
4. Mini One
Despite being the smallest (and cheapest) of the iconic model family, the Mini One has all the cheeky retro charm you’d expect in a Mini. With a 1.2-litre engine, it’s as powerful as the Mini Cooper D, and has the same playful handling. The One feels smooth, offers a comfortable ride at high speeds, and is spacious enough to accommodate four adults – though doesn’t offer much luggage space. You get a good range of tech inside too; features such as USB ports and keyless start are standard, even on older models. This small automatic holds its value well, and adding alloy wheels raises the resale price even further.
5. SEAT Ibiza
With its sturdy-looking exterior and spacious cabin, the SEAT Ibiza is a solid, best-selling supermini. It has a large boot for its size, and a good range of safety features that are standard across all trims, including automatic emergency braking. It feels smooth for the driver and passengers, and you’ll be happy to hear that it’s cheap to insure. You get a lot for your money, too, the Ibiza coming with a great range of features. As standard you’ll find hill hold control and Bluetooth connectivity, while higher trims add a sunroof and parking sensors. Pre-2017 models offer a slightly different range of engine sizes and features such as aux cord input and electric front windows.
6. Suzuki Ignis
The Suzuki Ignis is a smart-looking compact car with a chirpy feel and a nippy driving experience. It’s not especially fast but does well in traffic, and it’s surprisingly smooth for a city car. Older models may have a looser suspension, giving passengers a slightly bouncy ride, but it’s certainly not a bad time. Inside, the Ignis is cheery and practical rather than plush, offering great headroom and a good amount of rear legroom. Newer models are hybrid-only, while older iterations are available in conventional fuel types. Finally, the Ignis also comes with optional four-wheel-drive, helping it to cope well with twisty mountain roads and tracks.
7. Mazda 2
Compact and lightweight, the Mazda 2 is a supermini with great efficiency and a sprightly driving feel. The acceleration is impressive, managing 0-60 in under 10 seconds. It does well in town or on the open road and feels adventurous, though diesel versions are less responsive than petrol models. The interior is well-designed, with semi-leather upholstery and features like automatic lights and wipers, plus an optional HUD. Just keep in mind that the boot space is on the smaller side and the rear seats don’t fold flat, so its carrying capacity isn’t huge. On the plus side, passengers will find this small automatic a comfortable and spacious place to be.
8. Toyota Yaris
A small family hatchback that’s spacious and solid inside and out, the Toyota Yaris has an excellent reputation for reliability. You’ll find choice aplenty on the used market, with petrol, diesel and hybrid engines on offer. Whichever you go for, you’ll have bagged a much-loved city car that nails practicality, not to mention efficiency – some newer models boast up to 70 mpg. The interior is stylish and easy to use, if not luxurious, and the rear seats are comfortable for adults. Passengers may find the ride quality a touch firm, and some drivers will find the handling somewhat uninteresting – but this little champ is a comfortable and easy drive. While the Yaris can struggle a little when overtaking, it has plenty of power for local and town driving. It comes in a range of trim options, including extras such as touchscreen infotainment and satellite navigation.
9. Renault Zoe
A fully electric hatchback with a distinctive appearance, the Renault Zoe is a great choice for the eco-conscious buyer. You’ll find the drive smooth and nippy in town, though bear in mind that the braking is a little grabby due to the regenerative energy-saving technology. Generally, it’s a typical city car: comfortable at low speeds but not so much on faster roads (these also run the battery down quickly). Inside, it’s comfortable and reasonably spacious, and there are a range of trim options that add features like heated seats. Renault offers options to lease a battery rather than buy outright, removing the risk of expensive electrical repairs, so check whether this is the case for individual used models.
10. Kia Picanto
A fairly recent arrival to the small automatic car segment, the Kia Picanto is a low-budget petrol city model that’s both stylish and great around town. While it’s built for city traffic and tight parking spots, it comes with five doors, surprisingly roomy back seats, as well as a generous boot. There’s a range of solid engines, though the smaller ones tend to struggle on the motorway, and all options can be a bit loud when pushed. It’s a comfortable drive though, and the Picanto is smooth over bumps as long as you avoid the 16-inch wheels. It corners well and is easy to park, as well as being good in traffic.
Fancy finding the best saloon car for you? Whether you’re after a premium ride or a practical family vehicle, there’s one out there that fits the bill. To learn more about individual models and see what’s on offer, check out our detailed reviews or search our used listings.