25 June 2024

Best Small Automatic Cars

Company News

Looking for a small automatic car that's easy to drive and packed with features? We've rounded up five top contenders from MINI, BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Kia. Each offers a unique blend of style, technology, and performance to suit different needs and budgets.

1. New MINI Cooper
2. BMW 1 Series
3. Volvo EX30
4. Volkswagen Polo
5. Kia Picanto

MINI Cooper

1. MINI Cooper Automatic

The MINI Cooper is the epitome of British charm in a compact package, perfect for those who prioritise style and driving fun.

New MINI Cooper

MINI Cooper 

Key Features:

- TwinPower Turbo technology
- MINI Driving Modes
- 8.8-inch touchscreen with MINI Navigation
- Apple CarPlay
- Optional Head-Up Display
- MINI Connected services for real-time traffic and remote features

Interior and Space:
- Premium materials with retro-inspired design
- Circular central display with LED ring
- Comfortable front seats, tight rear space

Fuel Economy: Up to 47.9 mpg WLTP Consumption (combined)

Driving Experience:
- Renowned "go-kart" handling
- Responsive steering
- Firm ride, especially with larger wheels

Running Costs:
- Efficient engines, especially the 1.5L
- Strong residual values

- Iconic styling
- Fun driving experience
- Premium interior quality
- Highly customisable

Best for: Style-conscious drivers who prioritise fun handling.

BMW 1 Series

2. BMW 1 Series (120 S Automatic)

The BMW 1 Series offers a premium small car experience with a focus on technology and performance.

New BMW 1 Series

BMW 1 Series 

Key Features:

- BMW Live Cockpit Plus with BMW Curved Display
- BMW Operating System 9

Interior and Space:
- Automatic air conditioning
- Sports steering wheel
- High-quality materials throughout
- Driver-focused cockpit design
- Improved rear seat space compared to previous generation

Fuel Economy: Up to 52.3 mpg WLTP consumption (combined)

Technology available:
- iDrive infotainment system
- Optional BMW Digital Key
- Intelligent Personal Assistant for voice commands
- Active Guard Plus safety system
- Parking Assistant incl. Reversing Assistant, Active Park Distance Control and Reversing Assist Camera
- Cruise Control with brake function

Driving Experience:
- Balanced handling with good grip
- Comfortable for long journeys

Running Costs:
- Efficient engines
- Strong residual values

- Strong performance
- High-quality interior
- Excellent infotainment system

Best for: Drivers wanting a premium small car with sportier handling and cutting-edge technology.

Volvo EX30

3. Volvo EX30 (Electric)

The Volvo EX30 is a compact all-electric SUV that brings Scandinavian design, sustainability, and cutting-edge technology to the small car segment.

New Volvo EX30

Volvo EX30

Key Features:

  • Google built-in (Maps, Assistant, Play Store)
  • 12.3-inch central touchscreen
  • Advanced driver assistance systems
  • Sustainable interior materials

Interior and Space:

  • Minimalist Scandinavian design
  • Streamlined dashboard with central screen
  • Compact exterior with surprisingly roomy interior
  • Innovative storage solutions


  • Up to 209.4 miles (Combined WLTP Consumption) for single-motor version
  • Up to 279.6 miles (Combined WLTP Consumption) for dual-motor version


  • Over-the-air updates
  • Smartphone as key functionality
  • 360-degree camera available
  • One-pedal driving mode

Driving Experience:

  • Quick acceleration (3.6 seconds 0-62 mph for dual-motor version)
  • Agile handling due to compact size
  • Quiet and smooth electric driving

Running Costs:

  • Low running costs due to electric powertrain
  • Potential savings on road tax and congestion charges
  • Minimal maintenance requirements compared to ICE vehicles


  • Stylish and modern design
  • Excellent safety features
  • Quick acceleration
  • Zero tailpipe emissions

Best for: Environmentally conscious drivers looking for a premium compact electric SUV with cutting-edge technology and Volvo's renowned safety features.

Volkswagen Polo

4. Volkswagen Polo (1.0 TSI Automatic)

The Volkswagen Polo offers a refined driving experience in a practical package.

Used VW Polo

Volkswagen Polo

Key Features:
- Digital Cockpit
- 8-inch touchscreen
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Wireless App-Connect

Interior and Space:
- Well-built with quality materials
- Spacious for its class, especially rear seats
- Clear, logical layout of controls

Fuel Economy: Up to 52.8 mpg (|WLTP consumption combined)

- Digital Cockpit with customisable displays
- Optional IQ.DRIVE travel assist for semi-autonomous driving

Driving Experience:
- Refined and composed on the road
- Comfortable ride, especially on smaller wheels
- Easy and reassuring to drive, if not the most engaging

Running Costs:
- Efficient engines keep fuel costs down
- Fixed-price servicing plans available
- Good reliability record

- Refined driving experience
- Spacious for its size
- Good build quality

Best for: Those seeking a practical, well-built small car with a mature feel and advanced tech features.

Kia Picanto

5. Kia Picanto (1.0 Automatic)

The Kia Picanto is a budget-friendly city car that doesn't skimp on features.

New Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto

Key Features:

  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist

Interior and Space:

  • Simple, functional design
  • Brilliant front space
  • Good visibility due to large windows

Fuel Economy: Up to 54.3 mpg (WLTP consumption combined)


  • 4.2-inch supervision cluster in instrument panel

Driving Experience:

  • Nimble in urban environments
  • Light controls make it easy to drive
  • Less comfortable on motorways

Running Costs:

  • Very economical engines
  • Low insurance groups
  • 7-year/100,000-mile warranty


  • Great value for money
  • Long warranty
  • Easy to park and maneuver

Best for: City dwellers on a budget who want a new car with warranty peace of mind and good standard equipment.

Each of these small automatic cars offers a unique set of features and benefits. Whether you prioritise style, technology, safety, practicality, or value, there's an option to suit your needs. Consider test driving a few to see which best fits your lifestyle and preferences.

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