Snapshot – You want convenience on a tight budget? Cars equipped with the automated manual transmission or AMT in short, is the way to go. The Indian car market now has three very affordable AMT equipped cars, and two more such affordable models will soon be available. We give you a lowdown on the various AMT equipped cars in India, their strengths and weaknesses, and on what to expect in the near future. So, if you’re in the market for an affordable automatic car, you’ve come to the right place.
Tata Nano GenX
The Tata Nano GenX has just been launched. The car is the world’s most affordable automatic. At 2.69 lakh rupees for the XMA variant of the Nano GenX, this car is really big on value if you’re looking for a hatchback mainly for the city streets. You get plenty of space that actually makes the Nano feel much larger than it is. The interiors are cheery and a nice place to be in. You get a nice set of features too. Think Bluetooth stereo, multiple glove boxes, and even an openable hatch lid. For the Bluetooth stereo, you need to opt for XMA variant, which is priced at 2.89 lakh rupees.
The car is powered by a 624cc twin cylinder petrol engine that makes 37 Bhp-51 Nm. The AMT is a five speed unit. You’d have already noticed that the Nano’s engine isn’t a powerful one. And AMTs are not known for quick response like say the DSG automatic gearboxes on the Volkswagen Polo and the Vento. The small engine-AMT combination of the Nano makes it a slow car, slower than the 4 speed manual gearbox equipped Nano. This can get frustrating if you want a quick and chuckable AMT car. If you’re a sedate driver though, the Nano AMT will suit you very well.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10
The Maruti Alto K10 AMT weighs 755 kilograms, which is the same as the Nano AMT. But what you get under the hood is something that’s much more powerful. The Alto K10 has a 1 liter-3 cylinder engine that puts out 67 Bhp and 90 Nm, which is nearly twice as much as what the Nano’s 624cc motor makes. On the strength of its powerful engine alone, the Alto will run rings around the Nano as far as pep is concerned. But for the additional pep, you need to fork out plenty of extra money.
The Alto K10 AMT starts at 3.95 lakh rupees. Now a lakh rupees invested in a mutual fund will give you good returns over say 3-5 years of car ownership. You also should remember that a car is a depreciating asset. Anyway, for the extra money, you get a car that sounds smoother, a factor that many entry level car buyers seek. The Alto also feels very well insulated when compared to the Nano, which sounds like a diesel on the inside. On the inside, the space isn’t better than the Nano though, and in terms of features too, the Alto is second best.
Maruti Suzuki Celerio
The Maruti Celerio is an AMT equipped car that is a size larger than both the Nano and Alto. It looks more substantial in the metal. But the extra size, big car feel and more features come at a steep cost. The Celerio costs 5 lakh rupees for the top end ZXi AMT variant.
This car features the same engine and AMT unit as the Alto K10. So, why would anyone spend the extra lakh on the Celerio AMT? 1. You get twin airbags, making the car safer than both the Alto and Nano. 2. The Celerio is more spacious and is a bigger car. 3. It rides better than the Alto and Nano, especially at highway speeds.
Maruti Suzuki WagonR/StingRay
The WagonR is a big success for Maruti Suzuki and to make the hatchback even more complete as a great city runabout, an AMT option will soon be added. Maruti is likely to offer the automatic option on both the WagonR and StingRay variants. Like the Alto K10 and Celerio, the 1 liter K-Series petrol engine will use the 5 speed AMT that is sourced from Magneti Marelli. Since the WagonR range has its dedicated bunch of buyers, the AMT may bring Maruti Suzuki better volumes.
So, what’s in it for you, the car buyer? You will get one of the squarest hatchbacks in India, which means good space. Tall people are generally happy in the WagonR as the car features a tall boy design. If Maruti offers the AMT on the top-end WagonR variants, buyers looking for a budget automatic car with good safety features will be pleased as well. The WagonR is priced slightly lower than the Celerio. So, if you can live with bread box looks, the WagonR AMT could be good buy.
Look are subjective, but you will agree that the Renault Kwid is easily the best looking budget hatchback in the country. Renault has actually done a mini Duster as far as the Kwid’s design goes. The butch looking budget hatchback will be in the market by Diwali 2015. The car will also gain an AMT option later in its life cycle.
How are we so sure of this?
The clue lies in the Kwid’s center console. On the pre-production display vehicle of the hatchback, Renault has blanked out an area that will host a rotary knob. This rotary knob is meant to serve as a controlling mechanism for the AMT. In the AMt variants, the blank plastic will make way for the rotary knob. The Kwid AMT is likely to start from under 4 lakh rupees if the Alto AMT’s pricing is any indication.