Updated February 2013

Automatics are very popular at the top end of the price range; but you have many options among small sedans and hatchback cars if you are in the market for one

1st gear, 2nd gear, clutch, brake; 1st gear, 2nd gear, clutch, brake; 1st gear, 2nd gear, clutch, brake! Aaargh! Anyone know this routine? Yes? Well anyone driving on Indian roads knows this feeling too. It is a pain and there was very little one could do about this but fume. But the scenario is changing slowly with the launch of several automatics in the country. Automatics offer significant benefits in roads like ours.

LATEST STORY ON AUTOMATICS: Automatic cars under Rs 12 lakhs!

Automatic transmission has rarely made an appearance in India. While owners of automatic transmission cars have loved them, their slightly higher prices and slightly lower fuel economy has kept cost-conscious buyers away.

However, as the market has matured, there has been a renewed interest in automatic transmission cars among customers in crowded cities. With just a gas and brake pedal to contend with, your left leg gets significant rest and automatic cars make driving less of a chore in stop-and-go traffic, and owners of automatic transmission cars have always been evangelists for the same.

Nowadays, with improved engine and transmission technology, the gaps in fuel efficiency has been reduced and variable geometry engines ensure that power delivery is smooth, and sluggishnesh of a automatic gearbox is negated. Also read: 5 affordable automatic cars!

 

honda brio automatic photo

In this article we take an in-depth look at the automatic cars available in India under the price range of Rs. 10 lakhs. Read on!

Automatic sedans and small cars under Rs. 10 lakhs

Brand Model Variant Delhi Price Mumbai Price Bangalore Price Chennai Price Chandigarh Price
Maruti Suzuki A-Star VXI Automatic 466,219 4,88,197 4,72,761 4,78,470 471,242
Maruti Suzuki Ritz VXI Automatic 619,000 651,000 634,000 637,870 622,000
Honda Brio 1.2 V-AT 5,99,000 635,785 611,000 613,346 603,000
Honda Brio 1.2 S-AT 5,74,000 609,556 585,000 587,346 578,000
Hyundai i10 Sportz 1.2 automatic 524,209 549,136 530,435 533,129 524,255
Hyundai i10 Asta 1.2 automatic 615,807 645,143 626,275 626,254 615,851
Hyundai i20 Asta 1.4 petrol (automatic) 810,409 849,496 817,614 810,409 810,409
Maruti Suzuki Sx4 ZXI Automatic 833,271 871,906 854,471 849,625 836,358
Volkswagen Vento 1.6 Highline (Automatic) 921,500 947,188 929,691 921,000 NA
Skoda Rapid 1.6 Ambition (Automatic) 843,500 864,188 858,691 858,000 843,000
Hyundai Verna SX AT (petrol) 878,013 920,730 892,219 893,012 878,093
Ford Fiesta Style AT (petrol) 923,013 959,074 940,457 923,012 934,293
Renault Scala RXZ CVT (petrol) 989,000 989,000 989,000 989,000 989,000
Honda City S AT (petrol) 922,013 966,730 938,219 938,012 925,093

 

From this list we can see that there are five small cars – Honda Brio, Maruti Ritz, Hyundai i10, Hyundai i20 and Maruti Suzuki A-Star and eight sedans – Honda City, Skoda Rapid, Maruti Dzire, Renault Scala, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Suzuki SX4 and the Volkswagen Vento, with more than one variant in some cases.

We will first concentrate on the small cars.

Small automatic cars

Performance

As we see on this list, the Maruti Suzuki A-Star is the cheapest automatic small car you can buy in the country, followed by the Hyundai i10 and then the Honda Brio S-O AT and Honda Brio V-AT.

The A Star was the first Maruti Suzuki car to be fitted with the all new K series engines and this 998 cc SOHC K series engine punches out 66 Bhp @ 6200 rpm and a torque of 90 Nm @ 3500 rpm. The AT version reaches 100 km in about 19.5 seconds and can hit a top speed of 150 km. By all means this is a city car and not an ideal highway cruiser. In terms of mileage, ARAI figures indicate 17 kmpl, a drop of only 2 kmpl over the manual version – as is expected from an automatic.

maruti suzuk a-star photo

Photo: Maruti Suzuki A-Star

The Hyundai i10 is one of the more popular cars on our roads – perhaps this is what convinced Hyundai to launch an automatic version. The i10 now comes with a technologically advanced Hyundai Kappa engine. The 1.3 litre engine pumps out 79 bhp @ 6000 rpm and has maximum torque of 111Nm @ 4000 rpm. The i10 also has a decent power to weight ratio, weighing in as it does at 860-952 kgs. Hyundai claims the car returns an awesome 20.36 kmpl – just 0.4 kmpl lower than the manual. While this may seem like a long shot, the engine is sufficiently advanced to pull it off. But nonetheless, expect the real world figures to be at least 1-2 kmpl lower.

Hyundai also offers the i10 automatic in two variants – Sportz and Asta.

The Honda Brio AT is the most value for money automatic in the small car segment as it is the only one with a five-speed automatic transmission. All the others have four-speed auto boxes. Also read: Honda Brio automatic first drive impressions 

The Maruti Ritz was also recently launched with an automatic transmission – the same used in the Maruti Dzire VXI AT. See: Maruti Ritz automatic launched

Next on our list is another Hyundai – the i20. The i20 is a powerful machine, and backs up with great features and performance. The new Hyundai i20 automatic offers a new 4 cylinder DOHC GAMMA petrol engine that produces a 100 bhp from a 1.4 liter engine and produces 13.9 kgm of maximum torque at 4200 rpm. Fuel efficiency is a rather average 15.04 kmpl – not much more is expected from an engine producing 100 horses.

maruti suzuki sx4 photo

Photo: Maruti Suzuki SX4

Price and features

The Maruti Suzuki A-Star, at Rs. 4,34,638, is the cheapest automatic car money can buy in India – a not insignificant fact. The car is a favorite of women and first-time buyers, so the step to buy an automatic comes naturally when you consider you are paying only Rs. 14,000 over the top-end variant. Features in the A-Star include: ABS, EBD, all four power windows, electronic power steering, HVAC, adjustable seats, central locking, rain-sensing wipers and a single-CD music system. The equipment list is not extensive, but is more than sufficient when you take its price under consideration. A driver’s side airbag would really be a welcome addition.

Features list is quite good in the Next Gen i10. The car comes with ABS, front fog lamps, electric ORVMs, HVAC, 2 airbags, adjustable seats, adjustable steering, electronic power steering, power windows and a and a single-CD music system. The Brio automatic comes with a decent feature list – including ABS and airbags, as well as integrated music system without CD and power mirrors.

The biggest and most powerful of the small automatics is the Hyundai i20. The automatic version costs Rs. 8,10,409 – a big deal for a small car. The equipment list is pretty much the same as you get in the higher-end variants of the manual version. They include: ABS, EBD, front and rear fog lamps, electric ORVMs, 2 airbags, HVAC with climate control, all 4 power windows, adjustable seats and steering, power steering, central locking with remote entry and a single-CD player with controls on the steering wheel.

volkswagen vento photo

Photo: Volkswagen Vento

Next we concentrate on sedans

Mid-size automatic sedans

The Maruti Suzuki SX4 is powered by a BS IV compliant, 1600 cc DOHC engine that has variable valve timing (VVT), and maximum horsepower of 103 bhp. Fuel efficiency is 12.6 kmpl in the manual variant and we expect the automatic to deliver pretty much the same – and that’s not bad anyway. Maximum torque is rated at 14.8 kgm @ 4100 rpm. The SX4 comes with a 4-speed automatic box – slightly odd as even smaller cars now come with a 5-speed automatic box. More cogs would also mean better performance and mileage – so it’s surprising that Maruti has stuck with an old-time box.

ford fiesta automatic

The best performing automatic mid-size sedan is the Ford Fiesta automatic which comes in two variants – Style and Titanium. It features a dual-clutch automatic six-speed gearbox, which makes faster shifts than a manual and also gives better fuel economy. See: Ford Fiesta automatic video review

 

Also in contention is the new Renault Scala CVT with an automatic transmission that is of the constantly variable kind and promises a fuel economy of 17 kmpl, even better than the manual and better than most others in its segment. See: Renault Scala automatic road test

The Honda City is a more popular automatic as it comes in four variants including one with a sun-roof and GPS navigation system. It also features a five-speed automatic with paddle shifts. See: Honda City automatic road test

The Volkswagen Vento is powered by a 1.6 liter engine that generates 105 PS of power and makes 153Nm of torque at 3800 rpm. The petrol engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox while the automatic version that has a 6-speed automatic Tiptronic shifter. This is more like it. The 6-speed gearbox ensures better fuel efficiency and power delivery than the SX4’s 4-speed box. Fuel efficiency is a claimed 10.5 kmpl, and we will believe Volkswagen on this figure because it’s an exceptionally low one. But with a huge 55-litre fuel tank, range is about 577 kms – another mildly disappointing figure. One would expect more from VW in the automatic segment as their primary market is the West, where automatics are the order of the day and hence VW has more experience in making autos. The Skoda Rapid, is identical to the Vento in all aspects except the design, and it has an automatic in a mid-variant Ambition as well. Also see: Automatic cars gain popularity in India

Hyundai’s automatic Verna is also the only diesel automatic car in this segment, but costs over Rs. 10 lakh. Below Rs. 10 lakh you can get two petrol automatic Vernas.

hyundai next gen i10 photo

Photo: Hyundai Next Gen i10

Price and features

Most automatic cars, at least here in India, have the same equipment list as the top-end manual version, so the three sedans here are quite loaded. Let’s examine them in detail…

The Maruti Suzuki SX4 is the cheapest small sedan in India with a price of Rs. 8,33,271. The price ought to be lower than the others as the automatic box offered is a previous generation one and not as technologically advanced as the Fiesta’s dual clutch automatic.

Equipment list is generous but not class-leading. Features include: ABS, EBD, front and rear fog lamps, electric ORVMs, 2 airbags, HVAC with climate control, power steering, power windows, adjustable seats and steering, central locking with remote entry, a single CD music player with iPod dock and controls on the steering wheel and. The ‘man among cars’ is not bad on the equipment list, but at this level you would expect some more upmarket features such as parking assists, rain-sensing wipers and perhaps adaptive lights. Some of these features are present in much smaller and cheaper cars, so this is not much of an ask. Also see: Most fuel-efficient automatic cars in India

Next up is the Volkswagen Vento. The Vento automatic retails at a cost of Rs. 9,21,500. Expensive, but is it? Let’s find out what creature comforts it provides. The Vento, with its automatic Tiptronic gearbox comes with: ABS, EBD, front and rear fog lamps, 2 airbags, electric ORVMs, HVAC with climate control and rear AC vents, power steering, power windows, adjustable seats and steering, central locking with remote entry, a single CD music player with controls on the steering wheel. Oddly missing is an iPod dock and parking sensors. Overall not a bad equipment list from the German carmaker, but its high price and low mileage might put off some buyers who are looking for a car that is more than a badge. Also check out this story Verna voted most value for money automatic in a close contest!