10 things NOBODY tells you about AMTs (automated manual transmission)

by Shantonil Nag

The sales of automatic cars have increased in India with the introduction of Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) on the Indian market. With the rising popularity of affordable AMT cars on the market, there are quite a few things that many customers want to know about the new type of transmission. Here are ten things that no one tells you about the AMT automatic transmission.

Expect much less

If you have driven a conventional automatic car in the past and are expecting the same out of an AMT automatic vehicle, you will be disappointed. AMTs do not drive like conventional automatic cars. They drive very different and may leave many enthusiasts disheartened. However, if you’re driving an automatic car for the first time and start with the AMTs, you will be quite happy with the convenience of driving.

It is a clutch-less manual transmission

It is known as a semi-automatic transmission in many markets. The AMT is not very different from the manual transmission. The basic working and the transmission parts are the same. AMTs automatically apply the clutch and also shifts the gears according to the accelerator input and speed. It is exactly like driving an automatic car without the gearshifts and using the clutch.

Affordable to buy and maintain

Due to the simplicity of the AMT transmissions, it is very affordable when compared to the conventional automatic transmissions. It only gets a few additional features instead of an all-new transmission that keeps the cost low. Also, maintaining an AMT automatic transmission is as affordable as maintaining a manual transmission.

And returns good fuel efficiency

There are many cars available on the market with the conventional automatic transmission. Such transmissions reduce the fuel efficiency when compared to their manual counterparts. But the AMTs are basically manual transmissions with automatic clutch and gear shifts and it does not reduce the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. All the AMT vehicles return the same fuel efficiency as their manual counterparts.

But a few traits of manual transmission remain

As AMTs are based on manual transmission, it misses out on features like parking mode, hill hold and hill descent. One should not forget the use of handbrake while using AMT. If driving an AMT automatic car, one should always pull the handbrake after parking the vehicle and also use the handbrake on the hill inclines to get the car going.

You can shift gears and take control

Apart from the Renault Kwid that offers a knob-based AMT gear-selector, every other AMT vehicle gets a stick that can be used to shift the gears whenever needed. This is unlike many conventional automatic transmissions that are offered with affordable cars on the Indian market. Getting the option to upshift and downshift gives more control over the vehicle.

Modern AMTs are much more advanced

Modern cars with AMT, like the Tata Nexon and Renault Duster, offer hill-hold with their respective SUVs. This makes the vehicles much easier to drive on the steep inclines and allows the driver to relax while stopping on the hill inclines. We can expect many more such features in the AMT automatic cars in the future.

No need for accelerator inputs in traffic

Almost all the AMT vehicles available on the market right now offer the ‘creep’ feature. This allows the vehicle to move forward without any accelerator input. In heavy traffic situations, it comes very handy and lessens the wear and tear on the transmission. The creep function is also one more feature that the conventional automatic cars offer.

Engine braking is absent!

Many people rely on engine braking while coming down a hill or bringing the vehicle to stop over a shorter distance. However, the AMT transmission does not allow you to control the clutch at all and hence, engine braking is missing from the vehicle. One needs to understand the working of the AMT by driving it in different situations. For engine braking during the downhill, one can use the manual mode to keep the vehicle in lower gears. However, different cars may behave differently in the same situation and one needs to drive and understand the vehicle.

Overtaking needs planning

Even though AMTs get a manual mode to shift the gears, overtaking can be a major pain. Pushing the accelerator to the floor will make the gear to drop but it is not instant and can cause problems during unplanned overtakes. If your transmission offers a manual mode, shift to it and use it during extreme situations. Even manually changing the gears is not instant. That’s why one needs to plan before overtaking on the highways. Remember, the safest overtaking manoeuvres are the ones that are executed in the least possible time.