The Growing Versatility of Automatic Gearboxes

The trend of automatic gearboxes becoming ever more popular is now well established and will only continue.

What is perhaps surprising to many though is just how versatile automatics can be – or at least the modern automatic.

Many would imagine that choosing automatic comes with a compromise. Is the driving experience worsened? What about fuel economy? Is acceleration less responsive?

With a poor quality automatic, any of these could be an issue, though the same could be said for manual. Regardless of whether a gearbox is automatic or manual it still has to be made well.

Automatics, however, need not come with a compromise.

This is shown in an independent list of the best 10 automatic cars on the market in the UK.

This list is comprised by and so features a huge amount of data from those who have bought the cars. It features sports cars, budget cars, family-friendly SUVs and executive saloons.

It could not be more varied.

Affordable, Reliable, Superb

Some of the 10 are affordable family favourites.

There is the Ford Fiesta, one of the most complete cars you can buy, to use the words of the review.

The Fiesta is a great example of an automatic with modern features – you have steering wheel-mounted paddles for if you wish to override the automatic technology and shift gears yourself.

The Skoda Fabia features the excellent DSG automatic gearbox and this hits that sweet spot of handling, performance and economy – good if not great for all three. The 108 bhp options packs a bit more of a punch and, at its most economical, this gearbox can achieve 50mpg.

All-Electric and Hybrid

Hybrid and electric-powered cars feature prominently in the 10.

The Toyota Prius, perhaps the most famous car of this type, is eerily silent to use carbuyer’s words, but its MPG figures are astonishing and can hit 70mpg in real-world conditions.

The ride is comfortable, the performance decent if not great, the power all delivered via the continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Perhaps less well known is the Renault ZOE – this an all-electric supermini.

This car doesn’t actually have a conventional gearbox – there isn’t much that is conventional about the car to be honest – but they included it nonetheless.

Still, it can go 245 miles on a charge that costs £3 – impressive! It is a car to consider if you mostly drive in and around town.

We’re not really sure it should be on the list though – best gearbox when it doesn’t have anything approaching a conventional gearbox!

Sports and Luxury

Perhaps what will surprise some most is that sport and luxury cars feature prominently – in fact right at the top of the list.

The very best automatic vehicle, at least in their opinion, is the BMW 3 Series, while the Porsche 911 coupe narrowly misses out on the top five.

The 3 Series range truly is a range in that it covers so many bases – from economical diesels through to super-fast versions.

They use the ‘ultimate driving machine’ slogan and you can only get away with this if the drive offered truly is world-class.

BMW are one of the makes who are starting to abandon manuals and there is only one version of the modern 3 Series that can be chosen with a manual gearbox.

However, when the automatic is an award-winning 8-speed technological wonder this may be no bad thing.

We can see why they put it top.

The 911 meanwhile – well, who wouldn’t want to get behind the wheel of a Porsche 911.

Unlike the BMW, Porsche make a manual widely available, and yet buyers don’t opt for this option in great numbers. They choose the automatic because doing so does not mean compromising.

With that much power, perhaps allowing the computerised changes to do their thing makes sense, they opt for the right gear at all times, delivering top performance. Unless you have Lewis Hamilton like driving skills, you will not better what happens seamlessly.

We have to be honest though – we love any 911 popping in for a gearbox repair, not that it happens too often. They use a gearbox that is built to last.

All gearboxes need a repair eventually

In the fullness of time, all cars need repairs, even those with award-winning gearboxes.

At North West Transmissions, we do one thing very well – we repair gearboxes and also provide fully approved refurbished units for when a repair is not suitable.

This service is available for any form of gearbox, with all units coming with guarantees and good for tens of thousands of miles. We will have you back on the road, as good as new, promptly.

For when you have issues relating to the gearbox on your car, please do contact us.


At North West Transmissions we repair gearboxes or source replacement with guaranteed refurbished units.

A family-run business, we have a truly superb reputation, this shown by our 4.9 out of 5 average rating from dozens of reviews on Google.

All reconditioned gearboxes come with guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles while reconditioned automatic units come with a re-manufactured torque converter that has a lifetime guarantee.

Our technicians are all highly skilled with vast experience in reconditioning and repairing all units – importantly their efficiency helps cut down the price of repairs and so too the cost.

Gearbox problems are all-too common. If you find yourself in need of a repair or reconditioned unit, that often being the more economical option in the long term, please contact us.

Call us on 0151 933 0257 or use our Contact Form.