Traffic. It’s getting steadily worse, isn’t it? So much so that many city drivers – you know, the folks who generally spend much of their mornings and evenings creeping along in tortuous traffic – are keen on trading their manual-equipped vehicles for something with a self-shifting transmission.
With this in mind, we decided to round up the five cheapest automatic models currently on South Africa’s new vehicle market. They’re all small, all with relatively unsophisticated gearboxes, and all under the R200k-mark.
1. Renault Kwid 1,0 Dynamique AMT: R147 900
South Africa’s cheapest automatic vehicle is fitted with a five-speed automated manual gearbox rather than a conventional torque converter or continuously variable transmission, mated to the same 50 kW/91 N.m naturally aspirated 1,0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine as the rest of the Kwid range. Interestingly, it features a dash-mounted dial (rather than a gear-lever) and is equipped with a driver’s airbag, but does without ABS (an issue we highlighted in our road test of the manual model). Renault claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 4,4 L/100 km
2. Kia Picanto 1,2 Start auto: R168 495
This version of the Picanto employs a four-speed automatic transmission, linking the front wheels to the Korean automaker’s familiar naturally aspirated 1,2-litre petrol engine. The four-cylinder is worth 61 kW and 122 N.m, and sips at a claimed 5,9 L/100 km. Take note that the Start-badged models feature just a single airbag and no ABS (opting for the 1,0 Style auto derivative at R177 495 will buy you what we believe is an essential safety feature as well as an additional airbag).
3. Suzuki Celerio 1,0 GL auto: R169 900
Like the Kwid above, the Celerio can be ordered with an automated manual transmission, which uses a proprietary electro-hydraulic actuator to automatically operate the mechanical clutch and allow the automated up- and down-shifting of the five-speed gearbox. In practice, though, it’s not always the smoothest affair (again, as is the case with the Kwid). Still, there’s much to like about the recently refreshed Celerio, which boasts a claimed fuel economy of 4,6 L/100 km from its 50 kW/90 N.m three-pot.
4. Hyundai Grand i10 1,0 Motion auto: R179 900
The cheapest self-shifting version of the big-selling Grand i10 uses a four-speed automatic transmission (like its Picanto cousin above), mated to a free-breathing 1,0-litre three-cylinder mill worth 48 kW and 94 N.m. Hyundai claims a combined fuel economy figure of 5,9 L/100 km for this model, which comes fitted with ABS and two airbags as standard. There’s also a 1,25-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with 64 kW and 120 N.m, for R214 900 should you be prepared to pay for more oomph and extra kit.
5. Suzuki Swift 1,2 GL auto: R189 900
The second Suzuki on this list, the Indian-built Swift 1,2 GL auto derivative employs the Japanese automaker’s well-known 1,2-litre four-cylinder mill, which provides the front wheels with 61 kW and 113 N.m, while consuming a claimed 5,8 L/100 km. It employs a five-speed automated manual transmission and also features ABS plus two airbags. The Swift effectively plays in the segment above the other city cars on this list, and thus boasts a little more space. The DZire-badged sedan can be had in the same spec for R191 900, if you, err, desire more luggage space.
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