India’s traffic condition is a known problem. The slow-moving traffic during your daily commute can be extremely nerve-wracking and to top it all, it just kills your feet when you have to switch gears almost every 2-3 seconds and be aware of the kind of pressure you’re putting on the accelerator. Well, there can’t be a perfect solution, hence the best that we have got is to switch to a car with an automatic gearbox.
Automatic cars had already gained popularity in the rest of the world by the time it was just introduced in the Indian roads. A large chunk of car owners still love their manual gears, since they are so habitual to using it and gives them the “actual feel” of driving a car and more so controlling it, the automatic cars have gained traction too. Thanks to the used case of daily work commuters who have no other choice than driving in heavy traffic rush hours and the affordability of the new technology. There’s a significant number of models which have the automatic variant and there are some that fall under the price bracket of 5 Lakhs also.
It can be extremely confusing for a layman who intends to buy an automatic car to understand which kind of automatic transmission, they should go for. Yes, you read it right, there are four different types of automatic transmissions in the market and read along to find which one suits your needs the best.
Automated Manual Transmission (AMT)
For: Affordability and fuel efficiency
The AMT technology that is fitted into the cars was actually picked from F1 cars. The science behind it, in lay man’s language, is simply put that the clutch and the gear shift action in the AMTs are automated. That’s the only difference between the manual gearbox and the AMT, which is also why it’s also sometimes called a semi-automatic gearbox. AMT is one of the most popular automatic transmissions in the Indian market and a large part of that popularity comes with the affordability of this technology. It can usually be seen in hatchbacks and sub-4 meter sedans/SUVs.
Coming to the flaws that this affordable transmission brings with it, the AMT cars can make your drive rougher at higher RPMs. It is offered in cars like Tata Nano and Maruti Alto to even Renault Duster. It is also offered in high-end cars like Fiat Abarth 595 and in even some older models of Ferrari. The fuel efficiency that comes with the AMT is an added advantage and a huge selling point. Therefore, this transmission makes it the best choice for people who are keen on switching to an automatic gearbox but are not ready to burn a hole in their pockets.
Continuous Variable Transmissions (CVT)
For: Refinement and smoothness
CVT automatics are more sophisticated in nature when compared to the AMT. While there is a servo box unit in the AMT to control the clutch, the CVT automatic does not have any gear at all. CVT transmission system uses a couple of discs that conveys the torque linearly across the RPM range of the engine. The CVT automatic are very smooth and do not produce much of a noise. However, if driven aggressively, the transmission may produce a rubber band effect where you will hear the engine going to the higher RPM but the speed of the car changes really slowly. However, if driven smoothly, CVT can be smooth, fuel-efficient and silent. Cars like Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Honda City, Nissan Micra all come with CVT. Honda cars even come with pre-set ratios on the CVT that allow the drivers to change ratio through paddle shifters.
Dual Clutch automatic transmission
For: High performance and quicker shifts
Dual-clutch transmissions used to be available only with high-end and expensive vehicles a few years ago. Currently, even the Hyundai Venue offers a DCT. The Dual Clutch Transmission as the name suggests has two clutches inside that engage the alternate gears, which ensures lightning-fast gear shifts. There is almost no lag while shifting gears in DCT, which is what makes it more among performance and expensive cars.
The twin-clutch system keeps the alternate gear ready to be engaged and when accelerating or slowing down, the ended clutch simply releases and the other clutch takes over, which translates into almost zero lag while shifting. There are quite a few DCT transmission available in the affordable cars including the Hyundai Venue, Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Jeep Compass and even the MG Hector.
For: An automatic transmission when there is no other choice
Torque converters are the oldest form of automatic transmissions but over time they have evolved quite a lot. The torque converter automatic transmission work with a planetary system of gears with a turbine and impeller. The impeller is filled with a fluid that works with the centrifugal force in order to turn the turbine. The centrifugal force pushes the fluid that turns the turbine. It may cause poor fuel efficiency in cars. Diesel versions of the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos offer torque converter. Also, the Mahindra XUV500 offers the torque converter transmission.