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17 Feb 2020
Rob Griffin Rob Griffin

Top 6 automatic cars for 2020

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Sometimes only an automatic will do. Here are six of the best.

Driving an automatic car should be stress-free. You stretch out behind the wheel, lightly squeeze the accelerator with your foot and glide effortlessly to your destination.

And the good news is, you don't need to spend a fortune on a luxury car to enjoy the advantages of an automatic gearbox, according to Daniel Powell, managing editor of website Honest John.

“Automatics are also easier and more relaxing to drive, especially if a lot of your miles are covered on congested city streets,” he says.

Although the accepted definition of an automatic car is one that can be driven without the use of a clutch pedal, there are a number of different types.

These include conventional automatic gearboxes, dual-clutch automatics and continuously variable transmission gearboxes. Different manufacturers will take different approaches.

So, what are some of the best automatic cars on the market today? Here we look at a variety of options - whether you’re after a small runabout or something larger to transport the family.

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Volkswagen Polo

VW polo

VW are recognised the world over for producing well-engineered and reliable cars. The Polo is no exception and is certainly among the ones to watch in the supermini category.

It looks undeniably sporty – particularly the GTi version – and the wide array of design packages enable owners to create their own take.

There is also the practical side to its character in the shape of a 351 litre boot capacity, along with Adaptive Cruise Control that uses a radar to gauge the distance from the vehicle ahead.

On the transmission side, The SE, beats, SEL and R-Line versions of the Polo can come with 7-speed auto DSG, while the GTI and GTI+ editions have a 6-speed auto DSG.

Insider the car there are gadgets such as Car-Net ‘App-Connect’, which puts your smartphone, music, messages, the internet and apps in reach via a touch-screen infotainment system.

Read more: The 5 most economical cars

Honda Jazz

honda jazz

A great all-rounder. It’s well-equipped, boasts plenty of safety equipment, looks great and benefits from Honda’s well-earned reputation for reliability.

The stylish Jazz comes in three grade levels – S, SE and EX – with prices ranging from just under £15,000 to almost £18,000. Not the cheapest but you get plenty for your money.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, dusk-sensing auto lights, rain-sensing auto wipers and the City-Brake Active System that detects imminent collisions at speeds of less than 18mph.

Top of the range models, meanwhile, come with rear view cameras, smart entry & start, LED headlights, and rear privacy glass.

The car is a favourite with Daniel Powell, managing editor of Honest John, who points out that Honda offers a CVT automatic gearbox with both the 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrol engines. 

“While some drivers aren’t keen on CVT gearboxes, Honda’s is fine - especially for around town driving,” he says.

Read more: The 5 easiest cars to park

Peugeot 208

Peugeot 208

One of the best looking smaller cars on the market. The latest incarnation of Peugeot’s 208 has a sleek, fresh design – particularly the eye-catchingly smooth front-end and grille.

There is also an 8-speed Efficient Automatic Transmission available in each of the three trim levels – Active, Allure and GT Line.

The list of standard spec on the Active includes 16” alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, and the Peugeot i-Cockpit with 7” colour touchscreen. 

The 208 has received the nod of approval by website carwow, which gave it the “Little Legend” award for cars that pack a big punch in petite packages.

The judges said: “You get one of the best cabins in the small car class, superb tech and strong but efficient engine choices for a sensible price.”

Read more: The best 7-seater cars

Audi A1 Sportback

Audi A1 sportback

There’s a lot of kudos attached to the Audi badge – and it’s one of the many benefits of the A1, which certainly packs a lot into a relatively compact car.

It’s a neat, five-door package, that has plenty of room for four tall adult and a decent amount of space in the back for your luggage.

As usual, there are a range of engine choices, most of which come with the possibility of a 7-speed S tronic transmission.

It also comes in a wide variety of trims. For example, the Technik costs less than £20,000 and comes with 15” alloy wheels, LED headlights and a 10.25” digital cockpit.

The levels then rise through Sport, S line, S line Competition, S line Style Edition and S line Contrast Edition, to Vorsprung, which will set you back just shy of £30,000.

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BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 series

It has long been proclaimed as “The ultimate driver’s car”, and this seventh-generation model more than lives up to the title.

Instantly recognisable, the sleek styling shows that BMW have stayed true to the car’s roots while bringing everything else bang up to the present day.

There are – as always these days – numerous versions available. Depending on which you pick, you can get a 3 series with an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Website carwow crowned it Car of the Year at the back end of 2019, securing victory ahead of strong contenders such as the Toyota Supra, Bentley Flying Spur and Tesla Model 3.

The judges said: “In its latest form, it looks great, offers superb quality inside and comes with the very latest in-car tech… It’s a brilliant car.”

Jaguar F-Pace 

Jaguar F Pace

A worthy contender for anyone wanting an automatic that combines looks, power, practicality and more than a little dash of luxury.

This crossover SUV, which was the manufacturer’s first foray into this area of the market, is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and choice of engines.

There are also different trim levels, meaning the on-the-road price of an F-Pace can range from around £40,000 to £75,000.

At the top end you have the SVR, which as well as a body kit and five spoke alloy wheels, has a 550PS engine that can transport you from 0-60mph in just 4.1 seconds!

Unsurprisingly, the F-Pace also boasts plenty of room. There’s a decent amount of headspace – even if your family are all over six feet tall – as well as loads of neat storage areas.

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