Best Automatic Cars In 2021< Back to blog
Automatic cars are becoming more popular as people look for an easier driving experience. So great is the demand from UK drivers for auto gearboxes that many manufacturers are making them readily available on more of their models.
Whether you’re looking for a luxury grand tourer (GT) that cruises along with seamless shifting, a sports car with a razor-sharp up and down shifts in an automatic setup, or just a more comfortable setup in a regular passenger car. There’s guaranteed to be an automatic car out there to suit your needs.
In our latest blog we list some of the best automatic cars to buy in 2021, regardless of your budget. Read on to discover which auto model is right for you.
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3 best automatic luxury cars
1. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Arguably one of the best luxury cars on the market. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is only available with an automatic gearbox which complements its strong engine range – consisting of diesel, petrol and mild hybrid units – to swiftly shove this two-tonne car effortlessly along.
Mercedes’ 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox is one of the most impressive transmissions on the market. The wide ratio spread of the gears allow for improved performance, comfort and efficiency.
When you opt for the mild hybrid engines in the S-Class, the added electrical assistance fine-tunes the shifting even more than it already is. As such, the kickdown response makes the car feel even more brisk.
2. Audi A8
One of the S-Class’ nearest rivals – the Audi A8 is another incredible luxury limousuine which uses an automatic gearbox very well. Namely, Audi’s eight-speed auto Tiptronic setup which is excellent in the plug-in hybrid versions of the car.
On the other models it can seem slightly delayed when delivering power when you press the accelerator. However, much like in the S-Class, the support for the V6 petrol engine from a 126bhp electric motor means it’s very quick (0-60mph takes just 4.9 seconds).
Everything about the quality inside the Audi A8 is high-end too, while the option of an ‘L’ long-wheelbase which adds 13cm to the length of the car. Not that you’ll need it anyway, the standard A8 has bucketloads of premium room inside which makes long-distance journeys an absolute breeze.
3. BMW 7 Series
Completing the Holy Trinity of the luxury automatic limousine models is the brilliant-driving BMW 7 Series.
Unlike the S-Class and A8, the 7 Series has great handling for such a big car. Couple this with BMW’s latest eight-speed automatic gearbox and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much fun you can have on a twisting road in this large car.
You can choose to have rear-wheel drive or the brand’s excellent xDrive four-wheel setup too for either sportier or grippier handling.
3 best automatic sports cars
1. Porsche 911
Is there a more complete sports car than the Porsche 911? We don’t think so. It’s an iconic rear-engined machine that simply can’t be tampered with.
Along with its distinct, aerodynamic looks, the PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, meaning ‘Porsche double-clutch transmission’) automatic gearbox is phenomenal. Not only is the eight-speed automatic transmission quicker than the seven-speed manual alternative, but you still have the option for paddle shifting if you want to maintain that sporty feel.
Even if you think all sports cars should have a manual gearbox, the 911’s PDK setup performs best when you let it do its thing.
2. Audi TT
The Audi TT has gone from strength to strength since it first came about in the late ’90s. Back then it had some avant-garde styling that turned heads, but wasn’t the greatest thing to drive.
Fast-forward 23 years and the third-generation Audi TT is easy on the eye and is really fun to drive. Even the entry-level 40 TFSI engine, which is a 2.0-litre petrol unit producing 194bhp, has pace to scare most hot hatches. The 0-60mph time of 6.6 seconds is more than adequate and it pulls strong from low revs.
Every version of the TT except the more powerful 45 TFSI engine comes with a seven-speed, dual-clutch S Tronic gearbox. It’s a good setup too, with the transmission holding onto gears for a bit longer so you can really get torque out of each one.
3. Mini Hatchback Cooper S
Strictly not a sports car (but a sporty hatch nonetheless), the Mini Hatchback Cooper S is great to drive, especially when you select the optional seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch auto gearbox. It changes gears very slickly regardless of whether you’re on fast A roads or in stop-start traffic in the city.
Coupled with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that generates 178bhp, this little pocket rocket can go from 0-60mph in just 6.6 seconds. For the savvy of you out there, it’s pretty fuel-efficient too (combined fuel economy of 49mpg).
3 best automatic family cars
1. Volvo XC40
One of the most popular SUVs in recent years and considered one of the best in the family SUV class – the Volvo XC40 is a great all-rounder.
When you select it with the optional automatic GEARTRONIC gearbox you get a very sharp-shifting car which has a decent turn of pace too for its size. The entry-level 1.5-litre T3 petrol engine with 161bhp goes from 0-60mph in a brisk 9.3 seconds.
Everything about the XC40 has been designed with comfort in mind and the automatic gearbox adds to this feeling of ease. The suspension manages to ride easily over bumps and uneven surfaces better than more expensive rivals with firmer suspension setups. These include the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar E-Pace.
2. Volkswagen T-Roc
It seems like the SUV segment has boomed in the past couple years and the Volkswagen T-Roc is a fine example of how the competition has created some sterling models.
The engines have a lot of healthy kick about them too thanks to turbocharging. Couple this with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and you’ve got yourself a fun-driving, practical family SUV with plenty of premium styling – a hallmark of Volkswagen.
When picking an engine, we recommend either the entry-level 1.0-litre TSI 110 unit which is fuel-efficient and strong enough. The one thing to remember is that it doesn’t sound the quietest when you work it hard, but the punchier 1.5 150 TSI engine is smoother and quieter if you value a bit more comfort.
3. Skoda Kodiaq
Not everyone can afford a large, automatic SUV, but the Skoda Kodiaq represents a sweet spot in this category.
For starters, you can have it with five or seven seats, a manual or automatic gearbox, and choose between two- or four-wheel drive models.
As Skoda’s first large SUV (and the Czech manufacturer knows a thing or two about practicality), the Kodiaq is very roomy vehicle. It’s big too, but that doesn’t mean the mechanics have made it overly supple. In fact, compared to the competition it’s an agile thing that goes where you want it to when you steer.
All the engines in the Kodiaq are turbocharged too, which make the Kodiaq pretty brisk when you put your foot down. Choose the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and filling the car with passengers and luggage is much easier because you get to rest your clutch foot while still maintainng the same ‘oomph’ as the manual versions.
3 best medium automatic cars
1. Ford Focus
The Ford Focus is a multi-award winning family car that is incredibly well versed in being spacious, fun to drive and well-equipped.
Its range consists of automatic engines right from the start and it’s a very good auto box too. The eight-speed automatic transmission is fairly leisurely and won’t feel overtly sporty, but it does add a noticeable smoothness and ease to the car’s driving experience.
The good news about the Ford Focus’ automatic gearbox is that you won’t need to spend an insane amount more to access it. Usually this can be the case, but the automatic Ford Focus is available from around £250 per month.
2. Volkswagen Golf
There aren’t many drivers out there that wouldn’t consider a Volkswagen Golf if they wanted a small family car.
With amazing interior tech, a refreshed design and a load of engines to choose from, the Golf is considered one of the best hatchbacks on the market. When selected with the automatic gearbox, it’s a very smooth-shifting model too, especially when you put your foot down and need a quick burst of pace.
You’ll be able to choose between a mind-boggling number of trim levels for the Golf too, ranging from family-friendly and fuel-efficient to hot hatch quick.
3. BMW X1
While the BMW X1 is a bit bigger than the Golf and Focus, it still falls into the medium car category because of its compact dimensions which land it in the small SUV class.
Practical, plush inside and with pretty neat handling, the BMW X1 is bang on trend with UK drivers. Unfortunately, the manual gearbox is pretty notchy, however the automatic gearbox can be had on entry-level 18i and 18d petrol and diesel models for smoother shifts.
On more powerful versions of the X1 (20i and 20d) the auto box feels even more spritely thanks to the extra torque these engines get.
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