Regular Automatics or AMTs or CVTs or DSGs: Who should buy what!

Automatic transmission equipped cars are quickly becoming very popular in India. A few years ago, options for people looking for automatic cars were very limited. Now, however, the situation has changed dramatically, with no less than 4 different types of automatic cars. With so many choices in the market, it’s easy to get confused. We explain who should buy what.

Dual Clutch Automatic Transmissions

Cars like: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI, Ford Figo, VW Ameo

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Many affordable cars have now started offering dual-clutch automatic transmissions. The dual clutch transmissions use advanced technology that is expensive and is not widely used. These use a twin clutch system instead of one and this offers a smooth transition between the gear changes. The dual clutch transmissions are extremely good when it comes to shifting up very quickly too. The seamless shifts make them quick and fun to drive. The fuel efficiency, however, takes a small hit when compared to the manual variants of the same model.

Who should buy it? People who are looking for high-performance automatic cars can go for such transmissions. But remember, twin-clutch transmissions are unreliable, have a shorter life and are high on maintenance. If you can overlook the downsides for performance, dual clutch transmissions are for you.

Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT)

Cars like: Tata Nano, Maruti Ignis, Renault Duster

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In India, AMTs have captured a significant portion of the automatic car market. AMTs are essentially manual transmissions with automatic clutch and gear shifting operations. As AMTs only have hydraulic systems that operate clutch and gears automatically, they’re cheaper to build. Also, the fuel efficiency stays same as the manual transmission counterparts due to lesser moving parts.

Who should buy it? AMTs are cheap. If you are looking for an automatic car for your daily commute that has a lot of start-stop traffic, then this is the one. AMTs do come with their set of problems like jerky shifts and slow shift times. But for those who want cheaper automatic cars that are fuel efficient but slightly slow, AMTs work well.

Continous Variable Transmission (CVT)

Cars like: Maruti Baleno, Honda City, Nissan Micra

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The CVTs come with infinite gear ratios, making them quite unique. The gear ratios are decided by the transmission on receiving the accelerator input. CVTs are more expensive than AMTs but are cheaper than DSGs. CVTs offer seamless performance like electric cars. In a few cars, like Honda City, the mileage of the automatic version is higher than the manual petrol variant because of a highly efficient CVT.

Who should buy it? If you are looking for an automatic that is super smooth, almost like an electric car, the CVT is the one for you. CVTs, however, are not the optimal choice for people who are looking for performance drives. There are a few cars that offer paddle shifts with CVT but they are not as good as the dual-clutch transmission cars.

Conventional Automatics

Cars like: Hyundai Creta, Mahindra XUV 500, BMW 5 Series

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Conventional automatics are highly complicated systems that use fluid, planetary gears and hydraulic controls to change the ratios. Conventional automatics offer a bit of everything. They are smooth, have high performance and return decent fuel efficiency. Most of the high-end cars use conventional transmission for their reliability, efficiency and performance.

Who should buy it? People who are looking for reliability and do not mind paying for it should go for the conventional automatic transmissions. Yes, they may not be cheap or the most fuel efficient, but they seldom go kaput, which makes them worth their price.