Cheapest automatic cars

Want to say goodbye to your clutch pedal and drive off in a cheap automatic car? Here are some of the cheapest on sale

James Wilson
Jul 21, 2020

Why have a dog and change gear yourself? Or so the age-old adage goes… Some people have asked themselves this very question and come to the conclusion that a car with an automatic gearbox is the car for them. In fact, many people like the idea of not having to change gear so much they go and get an automatic-only driving licence.

Who can blame them, really, what with being stuck in traffic seemingly one of the nation’s favourite pastimes. The good news for those wanting to get an automatic car but not spend half their life - or all their money - trying to get one, is there are a multitude of cheap shelf-shifting cars available right here on BuyaCar.

The cheap automatic cars available range from easy-to-park city cars such as the Volkswagen Up to the rather practical Ford B-Max. While in the past cheap automatic cars had second-rate gearboxes that made cars slower and less efficient - increasing fuel bills - automatic gearboxes from the last decade are far better. In fact, many are now quicker and use less fuel than the manual equivalent. 

Not only do the makes and models listed below come without a clutch pedal - taking the strain out of driving - but they can be scooped up second-hand with long warranties, some of the latest and greatest in-car tech and frugal engines. So sit back, put that left leg up and read on for some of the cheapest automatic cars on sale in the UK.

Cheapest automatic cars

1. Volkswagen Up/Skoda Citigo

Used VW Up deals from £6,499
Monthly finance from £127
Used Skoda Citigo deals from £5,980
Monthly finance from £120

Strip away the badges and bodywork (which are largely similar anyway) and the VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii are basically the same car. This is no bad thing, though, as they are all cracking little vehicles which are fun to drive, practical and relatively refined.

Opting for an automatic gearbox (known as ASG in VW/Skoda speak) blunts some of the driving enjoyment of these nippy cars for keen drivers, but the automatic ‘box makes up for this by helping take the edge off stop/start urban motoring - a type of driving that these cars excel at.

As for the driving experience, all three models are more suited to pootling around at a leisurely pace rather than tearing up and down a twisty back road. Furthermore, depending on trim they can come with a decent list of equipment - although the latest models do away with fancy touchscreen media system and instead opt for a smartphone cradle.

This might sound odd but means that your in-car media is always up-to-date - every time you change your phone you get a new media system - and you won't be left with a big bill to fix a broken media system, as you might be with a complicated built-in system.

2. Smart ForTwo

Used deals from £6,098
Monthly finance from £122

Arguably one of the most iconic city cars of all time, the Smart ForTwo is perfect for those wanting to weave through the UK’s mean urban streets. In years gone by, Smart’s automatic gearboxes have really let its models down - being slow to change gear and jerky - but times have changed and the carmaker has upped its game.

Depending on trim, the Smart ForTwo can either be rather basic or rather well kitted out. Entry-level Pure models are best left alone unless you're on a super-tight budget and have to have a Smart.

Stepping up from basic Pure trim to next-in-line Passion spec offers a much better overall package, adding climate control, heated electric mirrors and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. Much more comfort to go with the ease of that automatic gearbox.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Vauxhall Corsa

Used deals from £6,480
Monthly finance from £127

When it comes to a value for money automatic, few can touch the Vauxhall Corsa. Active models of the outgoing model are the entry-point to the range yet come with cruise control, hill-start assist and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Naturally, moving further up to trims such as Design, Energy and SE Nav adds more bells and whistles, but if you are watching the pennies Active models are more than good enough. Better still, there's so much choice that you're sure to find a model in a colour and specification to suit your tastes.

It is worth noting that Vauxhall recently launched a new Corsa in an effort to keep pace with the Ford Fiesta (the Corsa’s arch-rival) but the older models are well worth consideration. Automatic Corsas come with one of two petrol engines - a 1.2-litre petrol (we'd be tempted to avoid this one) and a 1.4-litre (this is the one we'd buy).

VAUXHALL CORSA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Hyundai i10/Kia Picanto

Used Hyundai i10 deals from £6,995
Monthly finance from £130
Used Kia Picanto deals from £6,997
Monthly finance from £137

Similar to the VW/Skoda/Seat triplets detailed above, the Hyundai i10 and the Kia Picanto are fundamentally the same car under their bodywork (with Hyundai and Kia being part of the same company, too). If you are looking for an automatic version of either you will have to be happy with an 86hp 1.2-litre petrol engine, as that is all there is.

Both the i10 and Picanto are a world away from their ancestors. By this we mean they feel like quality products (the Kia even comes with a seven-year warranty from the factory) and they are reasonably good fun to drive. This makes them great super-cheap automatic city cars.

For the cheaper automatic of the two, it is best to look for '1' specification Picantos, but if you want equipment such as alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth and heated mirrors you will need to look at '2' spec Picantos or SE spec i10s.

5. Vauxhall Astra

Used deals from £6,995
Monthly finance from £134

If you are looking for a family-sized hatchback (or estate) which is both massively affordable and available with an automatic gearbox, then hold your fire, phone and horses, we have a winner; the 2009 to 2015 Vauxhall Astra.

Vauxhall offered this generation of Astra with a sprawling range of trims - makin it tricky to work out exactly which one best suits your needs - but when it comes to the best cheap automatic, Design variants are the ones to look for.

As for engines, if you do a lot of miles each year, definitely take a look at models with a diesel 1.6-litre CDTi ecoFLEX engine. Otherwise, the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol is the engine to have although they can demand a premium over the less powerful non-turbocharged 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrols.

VAUXHALL ASTRA BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Ford B-Max

Used deals from £6,579
Monthly finance from £129

Ford based the B-Max on the contemporary Fiesta, which meant that it was not only super practical but it was surprisingly good fun to drive. Those after an automatic have a choice of one gearbox and engine combination. That may sound limiting, but it certainly takes the stress out of choosing.

One of the B-Max’s standout features is its sliding rear doors, which make access into the back seats a doddle - perfect for those with young children. As for trims, Zetec specification will likely be the most affordable and they come with alloy wheels, a heated windscreen and a digital radio.

FORD B-MAX BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 108

Used Toyota Aygo deals from £6,450
Monthly finance from £117
Used Citroen C1 deals from £7,798
Monthly finance from £141
Used Peugeot 108 deals from £6,490
Monthly finance from £118

A while back, Toyota, Citroen and Peugeot decided to buddy up and make a city car and the result was rather good. The long and the short of this means that aside from subtly different styling the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 are basically the same highly competent small car.

At heart, all three are fun, economical and cheap as chips to run - the latter helped due to good economy and low vehicle excise duty. An automatic gearbox marginally blunts performance, as with a number of small, low-power cars, but for those that only drive in town, this will be neither here nor there.

Across all models, entry-level specification is pretty basic, which helps keep prices down. If your budget will allow, we would recommend going for one above entry-level – i.e. Active Plus (Toyota), Feel (Citroen) and Active (Peugeot). Do this and you'll feel like you're getting much more car for your money.

8. Renault Clio

Used deals from £7,995
Monthly finance from £143

Over in mainland Europe, the previous-generation Renault Clio sold like hotcakes - a bit like the Ford Fiesta here. Its popularity is not without reason, though, as it is stylish, affordable and in the right spec well equipped (although the Fiesta has it licked for driving fun).

Unlike some car makers on this list, Renault didn’t shy away from offering automatic versions of the Clio, it made a range of petrol and diesel models with automatic gearboxes to choose from.

One thing the French company didn’t do so well at was making model names easy to follow as it chopped and changed the nomenclature throughout the model’s life. As a rule of thumb if there is 'Dynamique' somewhere in the name you will have a good blend of equipment and price.

RENAULT CLIO BUYERS' GUIDE

What about electric cars?

For one engineering reason or another, electric cars are basically all automatics. That typically applies to plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid models, too, though the new breed of mild-hybrid models are often available in manual form.

In fact, a number of electric cars come with clever electronics that allow you to drive 99% of the time using the accelerator pedal only - lift off the throttle and the car slows fast enough that you only really need to use the brake pedal in an emergency.

So if you want to slim down the effort required to drive even more, electric cars could be worth a look. As a quick guide, below are some of the cheapest automatic electric, plug-in hybrid and self-charging hybrids money can buy.

ElectricPlug-in HybridSelf-charging hybrid
Renault ZoeMistubishi OutlanderToyota Yaris
Nissan LeafToyota PriusToyota Auris
Volkswagen e-UpHyundai IoniqHonda Jazz

 

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