If you take into account the fuel consumption penalty, and from a fleet perspective the increased carbon dioxide emissions penalty, there is little to recommend them other than hassle-free city driving.
But Vauxhall is offering its own solution which could be the best of both worlds. Its Easytronic Corsa has a five-speed manual gearbox, but does away with the clutch pedal, and offers a fully automatic mode.
In five-door SXi trim the 74bhp 1.2-litre 16-valve car costs £10,070 on-the-road following price cuts across the Corsa range last week.
In terms of conventional automatics we have chosen to compare it with last year's Fleet News Award-winning Peugeot 206 in 1.4-litre LX guise, now looking decidedly pricey at £10,915.
And to spice things up we have also chosen to throw in a Fiat Punto offering its own solution to the auto-box dilemma in 1.2 litre ELX guise, priced at a competitive £10,260.
Its favoured method is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with the option of six 'artificial' forward gears and an economy mode.
The Corsa was all-new at the end of 2000 and although there are some similarities in appearance, it is a vast improvement over the previous model in its packaging and quality.
This seems to have helped it retain respectable residual values comparable with the Peugeot 206.
Despite CAP Network's prediction that the Fiat Punto 1.2LX Speedgear will retain 30% of its original value after three-years/60,000-miles compared with 34% for its two rivals, its competitive asking price offsets the disadvantage.
However, any advantage the Punto might have on depreciation is more than wiped out by its higher projected SMR costs at 2.75 pence per mile — significantly more than the Corsa at 2.04ppm.
However, the Peugeot beats them both with SMR costs of 1.83ppm.
The Corsa really begins to hammer home its advantage when you look at fuel costs. Vauxhall claims the Easytronic will not cost any more to run than a conventional manual and its combined fuel consumption figure of 45.6mpg works out at an impressive 8.37ppm.
It puts the Fiat Punto Speedgear with its CVT into the shade at 8.77ppm and makes the Peugeot's figure of 9.29ppm hard to swallow.
The Vauxhall's fuel consumption figure translates to an impressive carbon dioxide emissions rating of 149g/km, meaning from a company car tax perspective it will go into the 15% tax band from April 2002 and remain there for at least the next three years.
The Fiat Punto can almost match it for the first two years of the new tax regime. But its emissions are a little higher than the Corsa and during 2004/05 it will be taxed at 17% of its list price.
A 22% tax payer in the Corsa would pay £353 a year in BIK tax, but the same driver in the Punto would pay two years at £334, rising to £378 during 2004/05. The Peugeot 206 auto begins the new tax regime in the lowest band at 15%, but this will increase to 17% in 2003/04 and 19% in 2004/05.