Why are no small city cars available with a decent automatic transmission?

Don't you think it's about time that the manufacturers produced an autotrans that was suited to small/city cars? It seems crazy to me that Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW are introducing quite unnecessary seven and eight speeders on cars with oodles of torque, whereas those of us with the budgets only for smaller vehicles, and who spend most of our time on crowded roads, have to make do with power-sapping and fuel-guzzling four speed slush pumps, or even worse, 'automated' manuals.

Surely we need the seven and eight speeders more than the bloated plutocrats who could probably get by with four or even three speeds? Remember the two speed 'planetary' GM box of the fifties? They all seem to have given up on the CVT, which to my mind was the solution. I'm told that this is down to emissions performance, but don't they just have to try harder? My favourite car was the C-Max 1.6 diesel with CVT. Alright, not much step-off, but in all other respects, smoothness, being in the 'right' gear, manual override and economy, none of the subsequent vehicles (including 2.0 petrol 5-speeders, 2.0 diesel 6-speed dual-clutchers) have been as satisfying.

Asked on 3 August 2010 by Malcolm Page

Answered by Honest John
How much money do you think there is in building small cars vs big cars? Manufacturers have to sell a hundred tiddlers to make the money they make on just one big car. The manufacturer profit in a single Range Rover is about £30,000. The C-Max 1.6 diesel CVT you mention has actually been a disaster with large numbers of owners facing a £4000 bill for a car not worth that much (don't argue, I get the feedback). But the Toyota IQ does indeed have a CVT and it seems that Honda is abandoning its cheap i-shift automated manual in the Jazz in favour of reverting back to a CVT.
Similar questions
What do you think is the best automatic city car?
I am after a small yet spacious automatic car for under £2900. I am 6ft 3in and only need this to get me to work and home which is at maximum 20 miles overall. Which car would you suggest I buy?
My wife is looking for a small three year old automatic for town driving. The Hyundai i10/Kia Picanto/Suzuki Alto are in the mix as they have torque converter gearboxes. Which is likely to be the most...
Related models
Best entry and egress of any car anywhere. Excellent front seat comfort.
Neatly styled. Increased room and better performance than original Jazz. better to drive. Very versatile. CVT-7 returned in February 2011 replacing i-SHIFT. More reliable than first generation Jazz.
Triumph of 4-seater packaging that still earned 5 NCAP stars. Most models 99g/km so VED free. Better to drive than a Smart or a Fiat 500.

Ask Honest John

Value my car