Best 1.0-litre automatic cars

From family hatchbacks to high-riding SUVs, here are some of the best affordable and economical 1.0-litre automatic cars

James Allen
May 28, 2021

There was a time when the only automatic cars with tiny 1.0-litre engines under their bonnets were ultra-compact city cars that didn’t need much power and were best suited for bumbling around town at low speeds.

However, thanks to the development of more and more sophisticated engines, the best 1.0-litre motors now have enough punch to haul much larger family cars, while still offering impressively low fuel consumption.

These advancements do more than simply allow these small engines to be used in bigger cars, though. As smaller engines are typically more fuel efficient and have lower emissions than larger engines with similar power, they offer lower running costs. Factor in the ease-of-use of an automatic gearbox, and they promise to be supremely cheap and easy to drive.

To help you find the best 1.0-litre engine and automatic gearbox combo for you, we’ve picked out a selection of options from across the automotive spectrum - ranging from city cars and superminis to conventional hatchbacks and family SUVs. Read on for our pick of cars available right now on BuyaCar.

Used 1.0-litre automatic car deals

1. Ford Focus

Used deals from £8,287
Monthly finance from £161*

While all of the turbocharged 1.0-litre 'EcoBoost' petrol engines in the Ford Focus come as standard with a manual gearbox, several are also available with an optional automatic. However, because Ford only fits automatics to its more powerful engines, that means its automatic 1.0-litre cars should have a decent amount of power for everything from town to motorway driving. The automatic gearbox changes gear pretty smoothly, too, making it an appealing option.

In addition to the punchy engines and slick-shifting gearbox, the Ford Focus also stands out for its agility around corners, comfy ride, good amounts of interior room and decent specs. Another bonus is that the Ford Focus is one of the most popular new cars around, meaning that there are plenty of used models to choose from, so finding your ideal Focus with the exact engine, specification and colour combo you're after on BuyaCar shouldn’t be too tricky.

FORD FOCUS BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Kia Stonic

Used deals from £13,700
Monthly finance from £212*

As with the Ford Focus, you’re limited for choice if you’re after a 1.0-litre automatic Kia Stonic; just one engine and gearbox pairing fits the bill. Thankfully, it’s a pretty well-rounded engine; its 118hp power output means there’s a respectable turn of speed for this type of car, and the seven-speed automatic suits the car well. If most of your driving is around town, though, you may prefer an alternative model, as this one can be a bit jerky at slow speeds.

The Kia Stonic isn’t as strong a seller as rivals such as the Ford Puma and VW T-Roc, though the fact it’s been on sale in the UK since 2017 means quite a few have made their way onto the used market, giving you more than enough choice.

Regardless of whether you go for one of the latest updated models or go for an early example, you should have supreme peace of mind going forward, as the car came from new with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. That means that even the earliest models still have years of manufacturer warranty cover remaining.

KIA STONIC BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Seat Ibiza

Used deals from £9,989
Monthly finance from £184*

If you’re after a great all-round supermini, the Seat Ibiza makes a very good case for itself. For a car of this size, there’s a decent amount of room inside for passengers and their luggage, and the combination of its comfy ride, light steering and nimble handling means it’s well suited to life in towns and cities. It's more capable than many small cars on the motorway, too, so there's no need to limit yourself to urban trips, either.

Equipment levels are pretty good, too. That's especially true if your budget stretches to the higher specification models that, while quite pricey when new, are much more affordable and better value as a used buy.

Like many of the other cars on this list, the most powerful 1.0-litre engine is the only one that’s available with the automatic gearbox.–In the Seat Ibiza’s case, it has a pretty punchy 110hp, which makes it pleasingly nippy. While the automatic version can’t match the manual’s 51mpg claimed fuel economy, it’s still perfectly efficient at 47mpg, and the addition of an automatic does help take the stress out of driving in stop-start traffic.

SEAT IBIZA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Skoda Fabia Estate

Used deals from £11,750
Monthly finance from £191*

After a compact supermini, but would prefer it to have a bit more boot space? Of the few options that are out there, one of the best is the Skoda Fabia Estate, which takes the compact dimensions and easy drive of the standard car and makes it far more practical with a supersized 530-litre boot. This is the kind of size you'd expect from a much larger car.

Because it’s very closely related to the Seat Ibiza above - as Seat and Skoda are both part of the same parent company - the Skoda Fabia shares a similar engine and gearbox pairing with that car: a 1.0-litre petrol engine and a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

While the Seat is only available with one power output, however, the Fabia Estate can be found in both 95hp and 110hp flavours depending upon which spec you go for. Since the boot is so large - enabling you to carry lots of weight - the more powerful one is the better choice if you’ll regularly make use of that big load bay or if you regularly have a number of passengers on board.

However, finding your ideal spec may be tricky, as there aren’t as many used listings for the estate version as there are for the regular Skoda Fabia. It's worth persevering, though, as few cars offer the small dimensions, big boot and pleasant drive of the Fabia Estate.

SKODA FABIA BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Skoda Karoq

Used deals Limited stock

Despite technological advances, a 1.0-litre petrol engine might still sound very small to you for a car as big as the Skoda Karoq. Indeed, this particular engine is far from being the punchiest you’ll find under the bonnet of a used Karoq on BuyaCar. However, its 115hp means there’s more than enough oomph to give this medium Skoda SUV a respectable turn of speed.

As a practical family car the Skoda Karoq has lots of space inside for passengers and gear, but loading the car up with people and heavy luggage at the same time will blunt the car’s performance. Do also bear in mind that because not many Skoda Karoq buyers went for the 1.0-litre petrol engine when new, there aren’t as many used models to choose from, compared with the other Karoq engine options.

SKODA KAROQ BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen Golf Estate

Used deals from £18,999
Monthly finance from £258*

The Volkswagen Golf has long been an appealing choice if you’re after a sensible, cover-all-the-bases family hatchback, and it’s even more versatile with the bigger boot of the estate version. Like the regular car upon which it’s based, the previous-generation VW Golf Estate had the option of a 115hp petrol engine paired to a seven-speed automatic (it’s essentially the same engine and gearbox as in the Skoda Karoq above), and is able to blend decent performance for day-to-day driving needs with good on-paper fuel economy.

If you're looking for a relatively new car, the good news is that used versions of the current VW Golf Estate have started to appear. These promise to be even better than the older Golf Estate, thanks to their marginally bigger boots (611 litres versus 605 litres) and slightly better economy thanks to fuel-saving mild hybrid tech, though you'll have to pay a little more to get one of these newer models.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Volkswagen Up

Used deals Limited stock

When compared with the other automatics on this list, the gearbox in the Volkswagen Up isn't as sophisticated. However, it does give you a greater element of control. This is because the Up doesn’t use a conventional automatic; instead, it’s a so-called 'robotised manual', which is essentially a manual gearbox that has its clutch controlled by the car rather than the driver.

This means gear changes aren’t as fast or as smooth as they are on a purpose-built automatic, though thanks to the gearstick, you do get more of a sense of being involved in the driving process; perfect if you like being able to change gear yourself, but don't get on well having to balance the clutch.

What makes the Up stand out, is that pretty much every automatic city car uses a gearbox like this, and the one used on the Up is one of the better ones in this type of car. Do bear in mind that an overwhelming majority of VW Ups (and city cars in general) are specified with a conventional manual gearbox, so you won’t have as much choice if you’re dead set on getting an automatic one.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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