While we’re big fans of the manual gearbox here at CARmag.co.za, we’re also acutely aware it’s no fun sitting in heavy traffic with three pedals. So, we decided to take a look at South Africa’s five least expensive new vehicles with automatic transmissions. Bear in mind, of course, there are plenty of options on the used market if the idea of a budget hatch doesn't quite appeal to you (you get what you pay for, after all)...
5. BAIC D20 hatch 1,5 Fashion auto: R189 990
The self-shifting version of BAIC’s D20 hatchback sneaks onto the list ahead of the likes of Suzuki’s Swift and Hyundai’s Grand i10, coming in at a shade below R190 000. The naturally aspirated 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine offers the front wheels 85 kW and 148 N.m via a four-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.
4. Datsun Go 1,2 Lux CVT: R188 300
Datsun’s Go is next on the list, with the range-topping 1,2 Lux available with a continuously variable transmission (the only model here using this type). Interestingly, the CVT-equipped Go has a mite more oomph than the manual version (as well as vehicle stability control), with its naturally aspirated 1,2-litre, three-cylinder heart offering 57 kW and 104 N.m to the front axle.
3. Kia Picanto 1,0 Start auto: R181 995
At the end of January 2020, Kia Motors South Africa rejigged its Picanto range, finally handing its base-spec Start variants a front passenger airbag and ABS. The Picanto 1,0 Start auto is the cheapest two-pedal model in the line-up; there’s also a higher-spec Street variant at R193 995 and a couple more that employ a 1,2-litre unit. The free-breathing 1,0-litre three-pot generates 49 kW and 96 N.m, delivered to the front wheels via a four-speed torque-converter automatic.
2. Suzuki Celerio 1,0 GL AMT: R176 400
While the models mentioned above employ traditional automatic transmissions (and a CVT in the case of the Datsun), Suzuki has opted for an automated manual for its little Celerio, which draws 55 kW and 90 N.m from its 1,0-litre three-pot. This type of cog-swapper 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.
1. Renault Kwid 1,0 Expression AMT: R154 900
The cheapest automatic vehicle in the country (by a country mile) is Renault’s facelifted Kwid in base Expression guise, which can be specified with a five-speed automated manual transmission (as can the higher-spec Dynamique and Climber models). As a reminder, the Indian-built Kwid’s naturally aspirated 1,0-litre, three-cylinder petrol mill makes 50 kW and 91 N.m.