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Choosing The Right...

July 10, 2016 10:05

In a world not too long ago, motorists in India were known to be predominantly in favour of manual gearbox based cars. Automatic hatchbacks in India were a rarity & one would even be forgiven for having thought of them as an oddity. Not that car manufacturers hadn’t tried offering the said transmission option. In-fact, Maruti used to offer an auto-box option on their M800 & the Zen.

Things have come a long way since then though & in recent years, automatic hatchback cars have been steadily rising in popularity. So much so, that there are four types of auto-transmission options on offer with the hatchbacks on sale today. Narrowing down on the right one for the situation then becomes a bit of a problem.

The paragraphs below not only through further light on the types of auto-transmission options available today, but they also attempt to guide you towards coming up on an answer to the query on: ‘how to choose the right automatic hatchback’ too:

Ø  Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) has become quite a popular choice today. High on efficiency & relatively low on cost vis-à-vis other options in its category, AMT’s have quickly become the transmission option of choice for budget oriented automatic hatchbacks in India. The downside is that these tend to be a bit jerky to use. However, popular cars including the Tata Nano & cars from the Maruti Suzuki stable including the Alto, WagonR, Celerio, Swift DZire, etc. are offered with an AMT option.

Ø  CVT’s or ‘Continuously Variable Transmissions’ are a great choice for relaxed, stressed free motoring. Working off a belt & dual-pulley system to infinitely alter the gear-ratios as needed, CVT’s are best in non-demanding situations. Load them up though, as during brisk bursts of acceleration & a slight lag is immediately noticeable. E.g. as seen on automatic hatchback cars like the Nissan Micra.

Ø  Torque Converter or TC based automatic transmissions offer a smooth shifting experience, working best when driving through rush-hour crawling traffic. This however, does result in energy losses, which typically translates to lower fuel efficiency figures. E.g. As seen in the Honda Brio.

At the other end of the spectrum is the DSG transmission equipped Volkswagen Polo whose party trick is where the transmission selects the next gear even before it is required. What this does is that it does away with the lag that’s felt in typical auto-transmissions such as the AMT. In-fact, to a layperson, the DSG is what you get when you combine two AMT’s together. One is hooked up to odd-numbered gears, while the other is linked to even-numbered gears. Both get a dedicated clutch for actuation & the entire transmission works off a specially designed shaft.

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