Best small automatic cars 2023

No clutch, no worries! These are the best automatic city cars for people who want simplicity

By BuyaCar team

Small dimensions, economical engines, and cute looks - there’s a lot to like about the humble city car. Good ones have enough space for four adults assuming the two in the rear aren’t afraid of being in each other's personal space, and the boot should be big enough for the weekly shop too.

New and modern city cars should also have new and modern tech in them, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but finding one with an automatic gearbox can be tricky.

Truth be told, even with the most technologically advanced and efficient gearboxes to date, small engines and automatics aren’t a brilliant mix. If you want or need an automatic, you might want to consider slightly larger cars like the Volkswagen Polo, Citroen C3, or Mini Cooper instead.

They are bigger in size, but, are still small enough for the city route. Buying used, or even pre-registered, will bring down the costs to roughly the equivalent of a brand new city car. But, if you do want a new city car with an automatic gearbox, these ones we've picked out below are the best on the market.

1. Hyundai i10

Best automatic city car for practicality

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The i10 is a thoroughly grown-up city car with decent quality materials inside, and it’s generally pretty comfortable too.

It can be optioned with a four-speed auto, plus, it has a 1.3-litre engine to team it with, which suits the automatic gearbox better than the smaller engines. Official fuel economy takes a tumble in comparison with the manual, going from 57mpg to 47mpg. Still, at least it comes with Hyundai’s five-year warranty.


2. Volkswagen Up

Best automatic city car for grown-up styling

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The Volkswagen Up looks a bit like a shrunken Golf, and in truth, it feels a bit like one too. Which is a massive compliment. It has a smooth ride and enough power to accelerate onto a motorway without leaving occupants feeling terrified too.

Technology is pretty good - a recent update has replaced the sat-nav with an app that you download to your smartphone.

The automatic gearbox is slightly jerkier than the manual, but, it only robs the Up of around 5mpg compared to the manual.


3. Fiat 500

Best automatic city car for style

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The cute Fiat 500 is a relatively expensive city car, but it makes up for it with its retro throwback looks and charming array of pastel colours.

Various trim levels are on offer, with personalisation on par with the likes of the Mini. There are two engines on offer - a 1.2-litre and a 0.9-litre. The 1.2 is cheaper, but the 0.9 is more economical. On paper at least.

Fiat’s automatic gearbox comes with the least powerful version of the 0.9-litre engine. Don’t expect it to be quick, but, according to Fiat, it’s actually around 2mpg more economical than the manual.


4. Kia Picanto

Best automatic city car for its warranty

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The Kia Picanto offers a relatively spacious boot in this segment (255 litres), with rear seats that can hold fully grown adults, as long as they’re not asked to be in there for too long.

This Kia is mechanically similar to the Hyundai i10 further up in this list, which is no bad thing. Automatic cars come with the larger 1.3-litre engine, which should be plenty quick enough for people seeking a city car.

It’s the same four-speed automatic as the Hyundai, so expect a hit in mpg in comparison to manual cars. The Picanto does come with a seven-year warranty in comparison to the Hyundai’s five-year warranty though.


5. Renault Zoe

Best automatic city car for zero-emission driving

Used deals from £6,500
Monthly finance from £170.80*

We have somewhat cheated here. The Renault Zoe is an electric city car built from the ground up to deliver zero-emissions driving which is ideal for travelling in city centres and avoiding the latest emissions restrictions.

This does mean that technically it doesn’t actually have a gearbox. However, it works in the same way as an automatic. Except there aren’t any gears, which means it is the smoothest car on offer here.

The real-world range varies depending on which model you go for; early versions struggle to reach 100 miles while the latest ZE50 model (it is actually the second generation of the Zoe) can easily travel more than 200 miles from a single charge. The 110hp and 135hp motors in later models feel surprisingly quick.

Note that early versions of the Zoes were sold without their batteries. You’ll need to lease the batteries for these cars, which will cost around £49 a month, depending on the number of miles that you drive. Renault has since stopped doing this, so while newer cars appear significantly more expensive, the battery is included.


*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.