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Automatics for the people as summer getaway beginsBack

Congestion on UK roads is driving interest in automatic cars, according to new research.

As the school holidays spark the big summer getaway this weekend, automotive data expert hpi reveals that there will be more automatics on the road than ever before.

Around nine million vehicles are expected to take to the roads over the weekend with the RAC predicting 36.5 million “leisure” journeys in the first fortnight of the school holidays.

Since 2008, automatic cars have had an average market share of 26.7 per cent.

In 2017, the figure has jumped to 38 per cent. Last year 927,806 new automatics took to UK roads, almost double the 437,633 figure for 2008.

Last year Transport for London published figures showing that average daytime speeds on main roads in central London dropped to 7.8mph between July and September, down from 8.1mph the previous year.

It also reported that an unprecedented 8,146 roadworks were taking place on main roads in Greater London in the same period – almost 900 more than in 2015 resulting in the average speed across the city dropping to 17.4mph.

Philip Nothard, retail and consumer editor at hpi, said: “Traffic problems and just the sheer number of motorists on the road particularly during the school summer holidays mean that the situation is not getting any better for motorists who are now accustomed to almost nudging their way around our city centres and busiest roads.

“So it’s no surprise that automatic cars are becoming much more appealing – it’s no longer a clunky automatic gearbox and the pace of evolution has been dictated by high-end manufacturers such as Ferrari and Porsche who have been phasing out the manual option for years. Now, more mainstream manufacturers are following suit and ditching the gearstick because of reduced demand.”

When it comes to leasing, 45 per cent of all enquiries now relate to automatic cars.

The number of automatic vehicles is growing by 10.3 per cent year-on-year. The biggest jump occurred between 2014 and 2015, where automatics increased their market share by 18.5 per cent.

BMW has the largest share of automatics, with 55.6 per cent of its registrations for automatics, followed by Audi (39.8 per cent) and Volkswagen (22.7 per cent).

Mr Nothard added: “The roads are so busy and congested these days that it’s easy to have an automatic as it is better suited to the stop start reality of everyday, urban driving.

“Running costs over three years for popular models like the Ford Focus, Nissan Qashqai and BMW 5 Series are now fairly equal regardless of transmission so there’s no reason why an automatic is not a viable option. Depreciation is also better for automatics so they represent better value for money in the longer term.”

Here are some of the best automatic cars to look out for:

1.  Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 110 SE DSG 5dr

Related to the Polo but cheaper to buy. Spacious interior and good resale value.

2.VW Polo 1.2 TSI 90 Match DSG 5dr

Quiet and comfortable

3. Mini 5dr Cooper Chili Media XL auto

More spacious rear and bigger boot than the three-door with a six-speed auto gearbox which  generally shifts quickly and smoothly.

4. Ford Fiesta 1.0 100 Ecoboost Zetec Powershift 5dr

Powershift automatic gearbox and a punchy 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine.

5. Audi A1 1.0 TSI 95 Sport S tronic

A pocket-sized car with a premium badge. Strong resale values, impressive economy and a high-quality interior.

Posted by Beth Rose on 21/07/2017