Few cars are better suited to an auto gearbox than superminis. The combination of a self-shifting transmission and compact dimensions makes these models perfect for the cut and thrust of stop-start city driving.
Yet they’ve never proven particularly popular. Ford aims to change this with its PowerShift box in the Fiesta. It’s a six-speed dual-clutch transmission that promises unrivalled smoothness, performance and efficiency. But it’s not the only automatic transmission option.
Peugeot has persisted with its EGC single-clutch automated manual in the 208, which is now available in eco-friendly e-VTi trim, complete with stop-start. Another option for buyers is CVT – this compact, efficient set-up was designed for small cars, but hasn’t been as popular as twin-clutch systems.
Toyota has kept faith with it, though, combining it with hybrid power to give the Yaris supermini a real Unique Selling Point. So which of our small cars is the automatic choice for victory and which will find itself washed up in defeat?
Click the links above to read each review, and then read on for our verdict.
None of these boxes is as smooth or responsive as Volkswagen's seven-speed DSG. But the PowerShift comes close, plus it works well with the punchy EcoBoost engine. What makes the Fiesta stand out is the sparkling handling and cushioned ride. In comparison, the Peugeot is hobbled by its transmission, which spoils an otherwise good driving experience. The thrashy, lifeless Toyota is effective, but unengaging
If you’re keeping an eye on the bottom line, it’s not hard to be swayed by the Toyota. It has the lowest emissions, the best economy and the strongest residuals. Plus, while it isn’t available with pre-paid servicing, a standard five-year warranty takes the sting out of repairs.
The range-topping Yaris Trend gets a touchscreen and keyless start, while the Peugeot has automatic lhts and wipers plus a DAB radio. The Fiesta Titanium X features a reversing camera, while Zetec and above have heated windscreens.
It's another victory for the Ford Fiesta, but it’s not a dominant win. While the PowerShift is the best box of this bunch, it lags behind the Volkswagen DSG. Elsewhere, the Ford is a class act, delivering a great driving experience, eager engine and decent practicality
You'd struggle to call the Toyota Yaris exciting, but it’s well suited to the smooth CVT box and penny-pinching hybrid powertrain. And if you’re looking for a simple runabout, it takes some beating. We just wish Toyota included more standard kit.
The otherwise impressive Peugeot 208 is undermined by its hopeless EGC box. The automated manual delivers clunky, ponderous shifts, making the Peugeot far from relaxing to drive. Still, an attractive price tag and generous kit make it appealing.
|Ford Fiesta 1.0 Zetec Powershift||Toyota Yaris Hybrid Active||Peugeot 208 1.2 eVTi EGC Allure|
|On the road price/total as tested||£15,795/£15,795||15,595/£15,595||14,795/£14,795|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£6,271/39.7%||£7,376/47.3%||£6,081/41.1%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£472/£944||£342/£684||£363/£727|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,693/£2,821||£1,673/£2,788||£1,897/£3,162|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||11/£267/C/£30||10/£246/A/£0||10/£246/A/£0|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£550 (3yrs/36k)||£139/£209/£139||£16.99pm (3yrs/30k)|
|Engine||3cyl in-line/999cc||4cyl in-line/1,497cc||3cyl in-line/1,199cc|
|Peak power/revs||99/6,000 bhp/rpm||99/4,800 bhp/rpm||82/5,750 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||170/4,100 Nm/rpm||111/3,600 Nm/rpm||118/2,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd twin-clutch/fwd||CVT/fwd||5-spd auto man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||42 litres/foam||36 litres/foam||50 litres/foam|
|Boot capacity||290/974 litres||286/786* litres||285/1,076 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.1 metres/N/A||9.4 metres/0.29Cd||11.2 metres/0.29Cd|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000/1yr||5yrs (100k)/1yr||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||12,500 (1yr)/781||10,000 (1yr)/181||12,5000 (1yr)/300|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||29th/23rd||9th/3rd||31st/26th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist||91/86/65/71/5 stars||89/81/60/86/5 stars||88/78/61/83/5 stars|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.6/9.4 secs||11.6/12.4 secs||13.8/13.5 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th/kickdown||3.9/5.6/3.5 secs||N/A/N/A/4.5 secs||6.2/9.1/4.6 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/kickdown||9.1/13.0/5.9 secs||N/A/N/A/7.9 secs||14.7/N/A/8.9 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||112mph/2,500rpm||103mph/N/A||111mph/3,500rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||41.7/9.2/385 miles||42.2/9.4/334 miles||37.2/8.3/409 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||156/114g/km/15%||155/79g/km/11%||175/95g/km/12%|
|Heated windscreen/stab/cruise ctrl||Yes/yes/no||No/yes/no||No/yes/yes|
|Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go||£495/no/no||£495/no/no||£495/no/no|