There are plenty of reasons why you might be tempted by an automatic car. Ever-increasing congestion on the roads of Britain mean that relaxing your left foot and not having to worry about a clutch or gears is a soothing proposition.
Of course, there are other benefits to modern automatic cars - chief among which is efficiency. A modern auto can change gear more smoothly and accurately than a driver can, and the perk of that is that automatic-equipped cars can be more fuel efficient than their manual counterparts.
There's a few different types of automatic gearbox around, so knowing what to avoid and what to go for is important. The traditional option is known as a torque converter, which uses a fluid coupling between the engine and the gearbox to transfer power. These have been in use since the middle of last century and provide smooth gearchanges - but do tend to have an effect on performance and economy, though this has improved with time.
The more modern option is a dual-clutch setup. One clutch handles odd-numbered gears while the other handles even-numbers, and the two work in tandem for lightning-fast gearchanges. The result is smooth and can even be more economical than a manual gearbox - however they can be jerky from a standstill, they're expensive and difficult to repair should they go wrong.
A different choice altogether is a CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission. These use belts rather than gears to provide a single variable gear, making smooth and seamless gearchanging. Economical and cheap to repair, these types of gearbox are best avoided by keen drivers as they can give a somewhat disconnected feel to the car - as well as being noisy under load.
Rounding up with cheap and cheerful is the automated manual transmission. These transmissions essentially use a regular clutch and gear set-up but robotise the action. These have the advantage of being cheap, lightweight and simple - but are jerky around town and under hard acceleration. They're best avoided.
Bearing all this in mind, check out our list of the best automatic cars on sale today...