Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - mustangman
I currently run a Focus 2, tdci which apart from a flat spot that was never fixed & poor brakes is largely ok. However for the next car I really fancy an auto ( it's my age ).

I?d be shopping in the B or C sector and am after something reliable, economical but with perhaps a bit of go if needed.

Looking at the market in the 1300 ? 2000 cc range there?s not always the choice you might think since auto?s are only available on some engine ranges, and not many diesels.

However I?m a bit indecisive about the best auto to look for, the pros & cons appear to be :

?Conventional? hydraulic box with torque convertor ( eg. Hyundai i30, Citroen C4 )

Pros: Been around a long time, so reliable & fairly responsive. No clutch as such so nothing to wear in dense stop / start traffic.
Cons: Soaks up a fair amount of engine power so not good on economy.

CVT ( eg. Honda Insight, )

Pros: Smooth, good around town. Should be reliable. Might have fluid or plate type clutch ?
Cons: Lots of revs if you need to accelerate. Economy so so. Some reports of short service life.

DSG ( or Ford Powershift ) ( eg. Golf, Leon...etc. Focus )

Pros: Generally very responsive, Good number of ratios, ( 6 or 7 ), economy good.
Cons: Can sometimes be jerky, complex, expensive. Clutch drag in traffic?

Automated manual et al. (eg. Punto, C3, Colt ...)

Pros: Relatively inexpensive, efficient.
Cons: Complex, unknown reliability and durability, slow reactions, jerky shift.

I?m sure there are more points than this, but these seem to be the main concerns.

What do others think? For me it seems to be pay up & smile for DSG & hope for reliability, or go for hydraulic & accept the trade off in economy???.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - Lud
My brother in law has an Auris 1400 diesel with some sort of Toyota DSG equivalent (I think), anyway an easily overridden auto. He likes it a lot and it is economical. One can only hope that being Toyota it will wear well too. He certainly won't break it being an accomplished and very smooth driver.

In years gone by small autos were rubbish. Conventional slush pumps turned low-powered cars into snails and the AP auto fitted to some BL cars in the sixties (from Mini to 1800 I seem to remember) was jerky and nasty to use. My wife complained yesterday that she hated the only auto she's driven. But I reminded her that that had been an ancient one-litre Mk 1 Nissan Micra with a torque converter. 'You'd love auto in a Mercedes or Jaguar,' I told her. But I don't think she believed me.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - mustangman
I think the Auris will have Toyota's MMT which is an automated manual box, with a single clutch.
My only experience of this type of auto is with Smart's that I have rented on holiday in Spain.
I recall occasions where you spot a gap in the traffic, you give the throttle a shove and nothing happens for about 2 seconds while the box decides to change down with a big jerk just as you are about to be t-boned.

I understand that the gearbox cannot read your mind, so anticipation is needed with any auto, but some seem worse than others in terms of reaction when you need to go now!
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - Lud
I think my BiL drives it manually by nudging the floor lever in an oval hole...
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - Alanovich
I can not comment on reliability, as we have only had it 3 months, but the DSG gearbox in our VW Touran is an utter delight. The only slight niggle I have is that sometimes it doesn't engage 4th quite as early as I'd like when driving in town, but that's easily rectified by doing it manually if it really irritates me.

It actually has 3 modes: normal "D", "S" - which is Sport and just allows the engine to rev further in each gear), and the manual mode which I love using on open A and B-road drives. I keep it in auto around town and on the motorway.

I'll never go back to a manual now, unless I get a 2-seater or a classic when a mid life crisis hits, and I'm also now replacing our second car with a Mazda 6 auto, which is again a Tiptronic type gearbox. On the test drive it felt even better than the Touran, but this is a 2.0 petrol rather than diesel, so a different kettle of fish.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - daveyjp
I'm on my second DSG Audi. Like Alanovich I'm a fan of the system as it provides a very easy drive with fuel economy and emissions almost the same as a manual (in my case I always seem to get better mpg from DSG than manual).

By 30 mph it should be in 4th.

As far as reliability goes I've had mixed experiences. The first one I had was faultless. The second developed a real jerkiness when pulling off and on hill starts almost stalled.

This was diagnosed as a faulty mechatronic unit - changed under warranty, but the part was over £1,000 and it was a two day job to fit and test it. For this reason alone I would be nervous about a DSG box out of warranty. A friend paid £1500 to get his fixed at 4 years and 48,000 miles old.

In this weather I've also found the diesel/DSG combination excellent in the snow.

Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - Alanovich
Second your comments about the snow. Winter program switched on and over to manual when needed, it was teriffic.

I think I'll look at getting an extended warranty when ours gets to three years old. One which specifically covers the gearbox and associated components.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - stunorthants26
Not sure about DSG but my experience of automated manuals is that they are not an alternative to a full auto except for the lack of a clutch pedal - they dont have the smoothness nor low speed finesse that a proper auto does.
Are they more thirsty? Well yes but not by a great deal if you buy the right model.
My OHs Sirion auto posts 39 mpg predominantly around town but the Yaris MMT diesel she has atm as a hire car is only returning 43mpg, which when you take into consideration the extra cost of buying and fuel costs, its no cheaper.

I like CVTs myself if they are well made and they can be quite economical too - I remember a guy with an MGF CVT 1.8 and he was getting mid 40's with ease.
It just depends if you like the characteristics of the 'box.

Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - Pica
With my Mustang which has a nice 5 speed autobox I can change the shifting points and take out any lag with a hand-held tuner. So I assume a tuning company could also tune a auto transmission to your preference (Unsure if this would void any warranty if the car developed a fault)

Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - retgwte
you looking to buy new or how old?

re "Cons: Soaks up a fair amount of engine power so not good on economy." yes but modern ones will have a lockup facility in top gear which improves economy a lot

CVT is a very light box, and improves economy by sheer virtue of weight saving as much as anything, and are cheap to make, but very unreliable

shame you didnt want an 06 corolla auto that im just about to part ex :)

Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - 1400ted
Last 4 cars auto. 1400 206. 16V Scenic. Now Vitara Diesel Auto. Lovely.
Erin Dors has C3 1400 sensodrive.....I won't use it, jerky drive. It's like pushing a clutch in. Rolls back on hills so have to use handbrake. Drive comes in suddenly as you rev. She's not too keen either, might be on it's way this Spring for a conventional auto...possibly a Sirion.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - TheOilBurner
yes but modern ones will have a lockup facility in top gear which improves economy

Even fairly run of the mill torque converter autos come with 5-6 gears with lock up in 3rd and above.

Mercs (and maybe others?) will lock up in all gears...

For me, a good conventional auto just cannot be beaten, especially if the fuel economy losses aren't that great.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - cjehuk
Conventional autos are not as thirsty as they once were and are very very smooth. CVT boxes work ok as long as you service them right, a bit of lag when you move off too. DSG in the cars I've drive have issues when trying to slot into gaps on roundabouts at low speed e.g. 5mpg and when you stamp on it box can't decide if you it needs first or not and you end up just sitting there until it decides and then "goes like heck". Can be nerve racking especially when exacerbated by diesel turbo lag. For me I'd take a conventional auto over any of the other solutions, or I'd change the gears myself.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - retgwte
re "CVT boxes work ok as long as you service them right" not at all, even with regular gearbox fluid changes they regularly snap their belts, and snapped belt then damages gearbox case, and costs lots to fix, maybe ok when in original warranty period if you can tolerate the inconvinience but a big no no if its your own car out of warranty, trust me been there got the t shirt

only buy conventional autos nowadays, and dont care about a little bit extra CO2 i dont think unreliable boxes are environmentally friendly either

so there you go

i think the major auto makers are making a big mistake ramming cvt and mmt etc down the throats of the british public, they only get away with it due to company fleets buying them

Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - nortones2
CVT is virtually the only transmission offered on the Jazz in Japan. On the current and the previous model. Ramming? OTT surely? Its not been made compulsory yet...
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - gordonbennet
We all have differing opinions of our own automatic choices, i've driven most sorts and its been my experience that a good auto needs a torquey and powerful engine to provide smooth controllable take up, regardless of the type of box.

I would suggest when test driving a possibility to make sure that you do some close manoeuvring and awkward busy hill starts with them, preferably a combination of the two.
Try gently going over a kerb or pothole when parking close to another car for example, very dodgy, no control.

A few minutes of that with many automated manuals will have you walking away, and i'd bet that the salesman will as usual find a nice gentle test route to show his wares off to their best advantage, can't blame them for that.

(Just out of interest i had to level the decks out on a colleagues truck whilst he sat in the automated manual small car, the car wouldn't climb the slope, and our trucks have about the lowest approach angle in the business).

The other thing i find with some of them has already been mentioned, approaching junctions on overrun (obviously) and then when the traffic goes to make the sudden dash for freedom that we do as a matter of course every day, some of these get confused and select too low a gear eventually and within a few yards is changing up again.

My own preference is for a conventional torque converter auto, and nothing i've driven yet would sway me, to be truthful i'd sooner a manual than most of the offerings, quite apart from the possible costs of maintaining these things over time.
On that subject they are still relatively new, do we know how they are faring over time?
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - Geordie1
For the past 11 years my missus has covered 80k plus miles in her Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.5 V6 with conventional torque converter auto 'box ...superb smooth changes and has been totally problem free (fingers crossed!)
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - ole cruiser
I was thinking of opening a thread on the lines of "Why on earth does anyone who wants auto buy anything other than a good old torque converter type?"; but this thread gives me my shout ( and happy to see that it's pretty close to a consensus).
I agree on every point with stunorthants26. A good torque converter auto is a glorious thing, with a nice bit of "creep" and instant shove. The only proviso is that it should be a modern type (thinking here of some rather nasty things amongst US hire cars). I suppose there's no denying that you pay an economy penalty, particularly on the open road (in town, people always used to say an auto was more economical because it changed up when a manual driver didn't), but I think it is pretty small and well worth it! Auto boxes for small/smallish-engined cars are still a bit tricky, particularly because to get a torque converter you have to go up the price range quite a lot (Focus, C3). But it can be done (as both stun and I know), and of course in a city runabout the advantages of an auto are at their greatest. My only beef with a modern auto is that you used to virtually be able to control gear changes through the throttle, whilst modern ones pride themselves on adapting to the driver's style, so I sometimes feel there's a bit of competition going on.
On the other hand, I recoil in horror from what I hear about CVT, DSG etc. I can't really understand why they are offered, and certainly not why they are bought.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - KB.
"On the other hand, I recoil in horror from what I hear about CVT, DSG etc. I can't really understand why they are offered, and certainly not why they are bought"..................Well, seeing as you asked why anyone would buy a CVT.......I bought it cos I wanted a small, reliable practical hatchback that would fit in my garage and I wanted an auto for no other reason than I wanted one. I took one out for a test and, the way I drive it, it was quiet, smooth, and hardly any dearer to run than a manual. It's warranteed for three years and I don't read of horror stories (apart from an issue with the CVT oil in early models) and for the following couple of years I would trust Honda to fix it having had Honda servicing carried out. Thereafter, if it goes wrong I'll pay to repair it. But there are plenty about and I don't see them littering the roadside waiting for a tow. I'll be perfectly happy to expand on why I bought it but, as has been said, the concensus is against me and I'll remain happy to be in the minority.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - JonJen
We've got a CMAX Powershift - very smooth, gearchanges almost imperceptible. Haven't caught it out yet, it always seems to be in the right gear at the right time and fairly economical - averaging about 43 to the gallon in mixed urban / motorway driving.

Very good to drive, and if you like your Focus, may be an option? Our previous car, also a CMAX, was the 2.0TDCi which had a hesitation at about 1700 rpm - fixed under warranty. Certainly didn't put us off another one though!
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - retgwte
KB mate

get yourself down the local auto transmission recon specialist and see what cars he has piled up getting fixed...
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - KB.
I will, as you suggest, ring around a couple of independant specialists next week and will report back, with honesty, what they say although I've bought it and am not selling it just yet. I'm reckoning on, as I said previously, the 1st 3 yrs under warranty and Honda goodwill for an indeterminate period thereafter. In 5 years anything could have happened (judging by the last 6 months nothing would surprise me....Honda may not exist in 5 yrs time). Given my preferences noted earlier including my desire for auto, there wasn't much else to choose from. There's a new semi auto Fiat Qubo but I can't imagine that meeting the approval of the sceptics - and I like the smoothness of CVT or full auto - and there aren't many of the latter to be had in a car 3850mm long and the Jazz has more room inside than pretty well anything else in that length of car.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - stunorthants26
>>I like the smoothness of CVT or full auto - and there aren't many of the latter to be had in a car 3850mm long <<

Our Sirion auto is 3600mm long and has a proper autobox. Its also pretty spacious.
Its why we chose it. We also looked at the Jazz but couldnt justify the silly price they ask for them when we could get a Sirion for £8300 new.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - KB.
Certainly wouldn't argue about your choice stu but I felt the original shape Yaris (of which I had 1.0 & 1.3 manual petrol and diesel and auto versions) and is similar in size to yours, had too small a boot (despite sliding seat) and felt the Jazz to be the optimum size all round - and trusted the Honda name and have a local garage. I liked the split flat folded floor (good for picnics) and 'magic seats'. I admit to not having inspected the Sirion closely (which I should have, if only to discount it on the grounds of size???) I did read reports etc and discounted it.....I may have been wrong???
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - stunorthants26
The reason that we chose it space wise was firstly, it has that feeling of space, not just dimensions. The boot has an adjustable backrest which makes it possible to put wheelchair in the boot without folding the seats - simply not possible in just about every other small car we chose to look at. Its not so much the ultimate boot capacity - the Jazz is bigger, but the shape and therefore useability of it.
We have a Yaris hire car at the moment which has a wonderfully flexible loadspace BUT we had to slide one half of the rear seat right forwards rendering it unuseable just to fit the wheelchair in the boot, not something we have to do in our Sirion.

If the Jazz suits you, its never a wrong decision, I rather like them myself, but we managed to get a large chest of drawers in the back of our Sirion - having looked at a Jazz, I dont think the same bit of furniture would have fitted.
That being said, my Charade is an equal to the Sirion on most internal dimensions ( exceeding them on rear legroom ) and that is a much smaller car again.
The Sirion has the old Yaris engine, but bodywise, its a whole different car so no relation really.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - mustangman
Well the deal has been struck. I've just bought a VW Golf mk6, tsi, dsg auto.

I liked the test drive ( in a manual ). Much as HJ said the engine is smooth, quiet and feels like an 1800 rather than 1400. THe rest of the car also, seemed to be refined.

So I've changed from diesel, so I've lost CR, DMF & DPF. The engine has chain driven cams, albeit with timing adjustment on the inlet cam ( don't know how this works yet ), and the car has high overall gearing, about 30mph / 1000 rpm, so the engine life should be good. I'm looking to about 40 -44 mpg I hope.

The Golf was not the budget option, so I hope I don't have to report any probs in the future. I'm a bit worried about the 7 speed dsg, clutch life for instance, but I'll keep everything crossed.

One small pedantic point. The brake spec show EBA, which I understand to be additional pressure during emergency stops, but it also lists "comfort brake assist" this must be the dumbed down way of what used to be "servo assisted"!!
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - ifithelps

Tough decision you've just taken, lots of tempting cars around.

I'm seriously thinking about changing my Focus and, like you, fancy an auto, so I've read the thread with interest.

Current favourite is a CMax Powershift, partly because the Golf seems to be quite a bit more money.

I'd have looked into it in more detail, but the VW place I went to didn't seem very interested.

I'm sure you'll be pleased with your Golf, everyone says the latest one is a tremendous car.
Choosing an automatic - the good & the bad ? - mustangman
I did consider the Focus powershift. The trans is in effect the Ford / Getrag version of VW's dsg, and would I think be just as good.
The premium for the Golf dsg over the Focus powershift was about £1300 comparing the Golf 1.4 tsi se, to the Focus Zetec.
I would hope to recoup this at trade in time.

My thoughts were that I had lived with my flatspot & really poor brakes for long enough. These don't seem in evidence with the Golf.

Seriously, the brakes worried me, even after fitting new pads there was no "bite" in the Focus brakes. This was with rear drums, which seem to be the cause.
Some of this is rationalising my decision of course, but I did worry that I would not be able to stop rapidly in a true emergency stop.

The Golf is due mid march. Ill post my thoughts as I get it & run it.