Top 5 Today’s Best Automatic Cars

In its initial stages, the automatic gearbox was perceived as a hindrance to the joy of driving, stripping drivers of the precise control and engagement provided by a well-executed manual shift. Automatic transmissions seemed most fitting in upscale, luxurious vehicles, where manually changing gears was viewed as a tedious task rather than a pleasurable experience. However, technological advancements over the past decade have significantly improved automatic transmissions, bringing the best automatic cars remarkably close to offering a comprehensive driving experience.

Today’s modern automatic gearboxes, aside from being smoother and more finely tuned than ever before, also boast increased speed and responsiveness. They are now integral components in some of the world’s most exceptional sports cars. The top-performing ones can shift gears more rapidly than even the most adept manual maneuvers, making them an ideal match for high-powered vehicles. Whether your priority is fuel efficiency, comfort, convenience, or pure exhilaration, the current market offers a myriad of options to explore, each equipped with distinct gearbox technologies tailored to specific driving preferences.

The best automatic cars to buy now

  • BMW 3 Series
  • Porsche 911
  • Mercedes S-Class
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Renault Clio E-Tech

BMW3 Series

Critiquing the recently refreshed model proves challenging, especially with the exclusion of a manual gearbox in favor of an eight-speed automatic from ZF. The gearbox stands out for its refinement, intuitively anticipating your driving needs and seamlessly transitioning into the appropriate gear. The latest iteration of the 3 Series seamlessly blends BMW’s distinctive poise and precision with a comfortable ride. Additionally, the new dual-screen iDrive 8 infotainment system not only keeps pace with the best in the market but also the overall performance of the car.

Porsche 911

The recent three iterations of the Porsche 911 have redefined the standards for automatic sports cars. In the early stages, the torque converter Tiptronic units were somewhat out of sync with the 911’s agile dynamics, lacking the immediacy needed during high-speed drives. However, with the introduction of multiple versions of its dual-clutch PDK gearbox, Porsche has truly excelled and currently boasts the best automatic gearbox in the market. The speed at which the 992-generation car effortlessly transitions through gears is almost surreal – a quick paddle pull seamlessly executes an upshift or a precisely blipped downshift, ensuring the turbocharged flat-six motor stays in its optimal performance range.

Mercedes S-Class

The Mercedes S-Class perfectly embodies the original purpose of the automatic gearbox. Crafted to shield the driver from the demanding aspects of driving, the latest S-Class offers a tranquil experience enriched with cutting-edge technology, highlighted by its highly sophisticated 9-speed automatic gearbox.

The torque converter unit seamlessly transitions between ratios, with Mercedes’ engineers finely tuning its software calibration to remarkable effect. Unless you’re pushing the car to its limits, which, let’s be honest, is not a common scenario in an S-Class, the gearbox ensures the engine remains in a quiet and composed state, avoiding any unnecessary noise.

Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla’s 12th generation, available since 2019, has quietly garnered admiration with its advanced TNGA platform, unparalleled reliability, and fuel-efficient performance. Regrettably, a notable drawback has been identified in its CVT automatic gearbox, manifesting as a drone during acceleration and an unconventional throttle response.

The car also exhibits a strong grip and eagerness in corners without compromising comfort. Bumps and imperfections are effectively dampened, and true to Toyota’s characteristic style, the vehicle exudes an overall sense of solidity. With a 1.8-liter petrol hybrid powertrain, Toyota asserts that achieving over 60 mpg is feasible.

Renault Clio E-Tech

Being the reigning Auto Express Supermini of the Year, it’s unsurprising that the Renault Clio, especially in its E-Tech hybrid variant, stands out as one of our preferred automatic cars. The E-Tech features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder petrol engine complemented by two electric motors and operates through an inventive clutchless automatic gearbox. While it may sound intricate, in practice, the configuration feels comfortingly familiar to those accustomed to driving a hybrid-powered hatch.

The Clio initiates movement solely on electric power, engaging the engine at higher speeds in urban areas when additional power is needed. One of the electric motors plays a role in enhancing the smoothness of gear changes, addressing any potential jerkiness resulting from its clutchless design. Despite the unconventional drivetrain, the Clio exudes a surprisingly refined performance. An additional significant advantage is its impressive fuel efficiency, delivering up to 64 mpg.

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