TBH Autobox only really work well on torquey engines - big petrols, and diesels. If your looking for a small car, then a manual box works better.
As for reliability, nothing in it really, gearboxes cost about the same to replace, manuals use a clutch, autos use a torque converter, and with a lot of newer cars now using duel mass flywheels, it can now be more expensive to work on a manual car...
Manuals however are more economical as you get 100% drive from engine through the clutch to the gearbox, autoboxes always allow a little slip - this makes for smooth gear selection, but it does waste some of the drive from the engine.
Ive always been a manual person - always sworn by them, but now I cant be bothered. If I want to "drive" a car, I have the race car, but for normal road driving Ive recently bought an auto, mainly for thier ability to tow easier than a manual car.
Each to their own - try before you buy