Sit back, relax and let the car do the work! Automatic cars have much to offer, especially if you live and travel within the confines of the city. Not only are automatic cars easier to drive but they also take the stress out of changing gears continuously, particularly if you crawl through traffic jams on a regular basis. Advances in transmission technology have also led to improvements in fuel efficiency, to the point where some automatic cars are actually more efficient than their manual siblings.
To make your life easier, we have created a list of five of the most affordable automatic cars currently on sale in South Africa. More than this, we will weigh in on which of these cars we think offers the best value for money. Here they are…
The Suzuki Celerio is well-specced with features and cabin space is generous.
Suzuki is underrated by buyers – not owners – but the Hamamatsu-based firm is good at making cars that are easy to live with every day and affordable to maintain. The Celerio has a lot going for it. Powering the Celerio is a 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine that develops 50 kW and 90 Nm of torque. The front wheels are driven through a 5-speed automatic ‘box and Suzuki claims an impressive fuel consumption figure of 4.6 L/100km, making it the most fuel-efficient car on this list.
Even though the Celerio is down on power when compared to the cars on this list, it makes up for the shortfall with features. Here are some of the Celerio’s key features.
Verdict: For a basic city runabout, the Suzuki Celerio offers good value at this price point. It’s packed with features and has the benefit of more space compared to its rivals. It drives well and is easy to live with on a daily basis, once you've gotten used to the characteristics of the automated manual transmission. However, perceived build quality and refinement can’t quite match that offered in the Swift. If R160 000 is all you can spend, then the Celerio is a solid value proposition. If you can stretch your budget, then the 1.2 Swift GL automatic is the one to have.
The Kia Picanto features edgy styling but lacks some conveniance and safety features.
The quirky Kia Picanto is reasonably popular thanks to its edgier styling and it too is powered by a 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine. With 51 kW and 94 Nm of torque, a 4-speed automatic transmission helps the Picanto achieve a claimed fuel consumption figure of 5.6 L/100km. Key features for the Picanto include...
Verdict: The Kia Picanto is a fun car to drive in the city and its cheeky styling gives it added street-cred. The Picanto does, however, lack ABS, Bluetooth and mounted steering controls. Kia’s five-year unlimited km warranty adds peace of mind for buyers considering the Picanto.
The Hyundai i10 offers decent build quality but lacks safety features.
Hyundai enters the budget automatic fray with its i10 Motion. A 1.1-litre petrol engine offers 50 kW and 99 Nm of torque, using a 4-speed automatic transmission. Kia claims a fuel consumption figure of 5.7 L/100km for the i10 Motion automatic. Let’s see how it stacks up in terms of features.
Verdict: The Hyundai i10 1.1 Motion is perfectly adequate for city driving but it is somewhat underpowered when on the highway or on longer journeys. Interior build quality is very good but the i10 could do with at least another airbag and ABS. Maybe not the best option if safety is a priority for you, but owners rate these cars highly.
The Honda Brio is a quirky car ideal for life in the city, but boot space is minimal.
In an effort to offer more value, Honda recently updated the Brio with redesigned exterior styling and a revised interior. The Brio is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine offering 65 kW and 109 Nm of torque, through a 5-speed automatic transmission. Honda claims 6.3 L/100km on the combined cycle. Let’s see what the Brio has to offer in terms of features…
Verdict: The Brio’s willing engine makes it fun and easy to drive. A major drawback is the small boot. Nonetheless, the Brio is perfectly suited for navigating narrow city roads with its compact dimensions. It may not be the best value-for-money offering on this list, but the Brio does have a degree of charm about it that will appeal to buyers who care less about utlimate practicality. Of course, Honda's reputation for quality and reliability remains strong.
The Suzuki Swift was a finalist in the Budget Car category in the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards earlier this year and although it may be the priciest car on this list, the Swift offers good value overall. It also happens to be Suzuki’s best-selling model in South Africa. Fitted with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 63 kW and 113 Nm of torque, the Swift makes use of a 4-speed automatic to go about its business. Suzuki claims a fuel consumption figure of 5.8 L/100km for the 1.2 GL automatic. Here’s what you can expect in terms of features…
Verdict: The Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL automatic is a solid car and is by far the most refined offering on this list. Interior build quality is good and the Swift drives and handles well while returning low fuel consumption figures. This derivative is packed with features and although the Swift favours passenger space over boot space, it still represents excellent value for buyers.If you can afford it, the Swift won't let you down.