The Top 10 Best Automatic Cars in Ireland
Automatic cars have been the very epitome of driver comfort for decades. Removing the need to manually engage a clutch and shift gears turned the experience of driving from a chore to a pleasure, particularly when navigating busy city streets or winding country roads.
Fortunately, automatic transmissions are becoming an increasingly standard rather than a luxury option in the most expensive cars on the road. But, as most road users in Ireland learned to drive in a manual car and have been driving them for many years, making the switch to an automatic can be a little confusing.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 10 best automatic cars for Irish road users, and here they are:
BMW 3 Series
Citroen C3 Aircross
Toyota Rav 4
Starting as our first pick is the modest Toyota Corolla, a reliable and affordable car if there ever was one. Of course, even reliable and affordable cars pack plenty of technology these days, and you can generally tailor the specifications to meet your needs.
From the 120 bhp 1.8 petro hybrid to the 177 bhp 2.0 petrol hybrid, there should be something for you in this range. The automatic transmission of choice for the Corolla is the direct-shift CVT (continuously variable transmission), with the equivalent of a 10-speed transmission (CVT transmissions don't "shift" like regular automatics).
The Skoda Kodiaq is an SUV with an attractive starting price that provides great value for your money. Whether you opt for the most basic variant with limited options (and the lowest price) or decide on a Kodiaq with all the trimmings, you can be sure of a quality family vehicle with plenty of space.
There are several specs available for this vehicle, with the 1.5 TSI 150 petrol engine being one of the most impressive. This motor boasts 1,448 bhp and delivers a 0-100 km time of 9.8 seconds, which is more than enough for your average SUV family car. You can always opt for the Kodiaq vRS spec if you really need speed, which packs 242 bhp. The vehicle is only available as an automatic these days, with the transmission of choice being the ever-popular 7-speed DSG (direct shift transmission) gearbox.
Our second Toyota of the day is the Toyota C-HR, a compact family SUV with an affordable price tag and respectable mid-50s miles to the gallon. By no means is this car known as the fastest on our list, but it's not always about speed.
Depending on your trim spec, you can expect anywhere between 120 bhp and 181 bhp. All this motor power makes its way to the wheels through a CVT automatic gearbox for a smooth and velvety ride.
BMW 3 Series
BMW is a brand that has long been known for offering cars that straddle the line between affordable and luxury, and the 3 Series is a perfect example of that. This saloon car is ideal for long business trips, small family getaways, or just heading to the coast for quality R&R.
Of course, the performance will vary depending on the spec level you settle on. The popular 320d M Sport boasts 190 bhp and does 0-100 km in 6.8 seconds. There is only one option that will see you driving a manual transmission (the least powerful diesel engine), while the rest of the 3 Series trims makes good use of the reliable 8-speed automatic transmission from the BMW ZF.
The Volkswagen Golf understandably gets a lot of love on lists like these, but we're choosing the often-overlooked Volkswagen Polo for our best automatic cars in Ireland. The supermini hatchback looks great and handles superbly, making for an economical and comfortable drive.
That economy is thanks to options like the 108 bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, which manages as much as 50 mpg with reduced emissions. The smaller engine doesn't make the car feel underpowered due to the smaller car size versus some of our other picks. The automatic transmission comes, once again, in the form of the DSG.
Sticking with smaller cars for a moment — our next pick is the MINI 5-door, which, as the name suggests, is a MINI with 5 doors! The iconic MINI look is still there, but there is plenty to choose from when it comes to what's under the bonnet.
Power output from this modest little car can range from 101 bhp to 176 bhp depending on your engine choice, while the handling provided by the compact form factor of the car is unbelievably responsive. The automatic transmission option is a 7-speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission), allowing for smoother and faster gear shifting than the previous MINI automatic transmissions.
The Toyota Yaris is an increasingly popular car for those who have to navigate busy city roads, in no small part thanks to how nimble and efficient it is. There aren't too many options with the newer Yaris lineup, as there's only one engine choice (unless you count the GR Yaris, which is basically an independent model). That choice is the 1.5-litre petrol engine with 114 bhp. As with the previous Toyotas on this list, the Yaris makes use of a CVT transmission.
Citroën C3 Aircross
Another supermini class crossover comes in the form of the Citroën C3 Aircross. This vehicle is built with comfort in mind and features some big, chunky styling that puts onlookers in favour of stability and safety over speed.
Of course, these cars can still manage a respectable 0-100 km time, with the 128 bhp 1.2-litre petrol option clocking in at around 9.2 seconds. Not bad for a comfortable family car. There are various diesel and petrol engines available, plus manual and automatic transmission options. The automatic option is the EAT6 (efficient automatic transmission 6-speed) gearbox.
While we're conscious that most road users in Ireland are not track-day enthusiasts, we thought we'd better have a pick for sports car enthusiasts among you. That pick is the iconic Porsche 911. Granted, cars like this are often considered a waste if they do not have a responsive manual transmission in the drivetrain, but the technology inside automatic transmissions has come a long way.
The power at your disposal varies depending on your spec choice. The 580 bhp 911 does 0-100 km in 2.9 seconds, while the 650 bhp does the same in just 2.8 seconds. The automatic transmission comes in the form of an 8-speed dual-clutch arrangement for lightning-fast gear shifting.
Toyota Rav 4
Our final pick in what has been a theme throughout this list is another Toyota. The Rav 4 is an SUV that comes in on the larger side. This vehicle is a hybrid model, making it a nice middle-ground for those looking to move towards a greener vehicle. However, going greener doesn't necessarily mean slower, with the Rav 4 boasting a 0-100 km sprint time of 8.4 seconds. Not bad for a big car. Unlike other Toyotas on this list, the Rav 4 makes use of a direct-shift 8-speed automatic transmission rather than a CVT.
What factors should you consider when choosing the best automatic cars?
Automatics are becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, there are more options when it comes to buying an automatic car. Here are some things to consider when buying:
Number of gears: Generally speaking, the more gears, the more the transmission costs. If you buy a Volkswagen Polo, the seven gears you get from a DSG transmission are plenty. However, if you want to buy something more substantial to tow caravans or other heavy objects, then the more gears, the better.
Shifting style: The way you drive may make one type of transmission more suitable than another. For example, dual-clutch transmissions are known for their lightning-fast shifting times. CVT transmissions don't have a gear "shift" in the traditional sense, making the overall ride quality smoother.
Efficiency: One of the downsides to running an automatic transmission is they are generally less efficient than their manual counterparts. This factor isn't a major concern for bigger vehicles with hefty engines, but you want the most efficient option possible for a smaller car. That typically means a dual-clutch or direct-shift style of transmission.
The whole point of an automatic transmission is that you shouldn't be thinking about it. There are differences in how certain transmissions work, and you may notice those differences while driving, but the result should be that you can get in your car and drive without thinking about gear shifts. In other words, don't worry too much about the gearbox itself, but instead, focus on finding a car you like.