AMT or Automated Manual Transmission Technology is spreading like wildfire in the Indian automotive scene. The trend of using AMT transmissions in India was commenced by Maruti Suzuki in their Celerio hatchback. The Celerio AMT was decently successful but a lot of prospective buyers were still not convinced about its actual usefulness. As of today AMT gearboxes have spread across several companies like Tata, Datsun, and Mahindra. They are also no longer limited to the budget hatchback segments and have reached compact SUV’s and compact sedans as well. However, despite their newly acquired popularity, there are still several people who misinterpret the functionality of the AMT transmissions. So here, we will take a look at the common AMT myths and misconceptions and debunk them.
Also Read: 5 Cheapest AMT Cars in India
This point is actually a partially correct fact more than a myth. Most conventional automatic transmissions come equipped with a “creep” function. The creep function essentially enables the car to move forward at a very slow speed say 5 or 6 kmph when the car is in Drive mode and the brake pedal is not pressed. This is particularly useful in bumper to bumper traffic and while climbing hilly terrain.
The first generation of AMT cars in India didn’t get the appropriate level of gear timing calibration. This led to users having to resort to the cumbersome procedure of constantly using the accelerator and brake pedals in peak traffic. But now things are different as all AMT transmissions come with a dedicated creep function. Now they function just like any other conventional automatic and can be easily operated in the busiest of traffic conditions.
AMT transmissions are actually quite mature enough and have been evolving for the past 80 odd years! The earliest AMT concept based transmissions surfaced in the early 1930’s. Back then they were commonly known as the “Preselector Gearbox”.
The main objective of the Preselector Gearbox was to reduce the amount of clutching required rather than eliminate the clutch on the whole. But with time, AMT’s have evolved to a point where the presence of the clutch pedal has been totally eliminated. While it is true that the first AMT car was only seen in the country in 2014, the technology has been in development for almost a century is only going to get better.
This is perhaps one of the most prevalent myths regarding AMT transmissions and is also totally false. The addition of an AMT transmission doesn’t affect the car’s fuel efficiency in any way. In some cases, AMT transmissions are actually more fuel efficient than their manual counterparts.
Another pointer to note here is that AMT transmissions have a really simplified construction and working. The system is electronically controlled so it is very precise in functioning. The hydraulic assist also helps to a great extent in reducing the wear tear in the mechanical components. So all in all, the AMT is actually simpler to maintain in comparison to the good ‘ol manual.
Sure, in our country AMT transmissions have been largely popular in the budget segment but make no mistake, they are equally good for exotics too. The modern AMT gearbox has actually been derived from Formula 1 technology. Fiat offers their 595 Abarth Hot Hatch with an AMT option.
In fact, Magneti Marelli, the company who pioneered the modern AMT gearbox was aggressively experimenting in the 1990’s. The end result of the experiments saw the modern AMT gearbox being used in the Ferrari F355. Now, if that doesn’t qualify as a non-budget car, I am not sure what else does.
One of the biggest AMT myths is that it’s not meant for performance-oriented driving. The straight-up justification for this myth is the simple fact that the modern AMT has been derived from a technology used in Formula-1 a few years ago. This single point itself is more than enough to bust this myth but still let’s get into the details a bit more. AMT transmissions work with the electronic systems of your car. There is no way that pure human effort can remotely match the precision and speed of an electronically operated system. So what you get with an AMT transmission is gear shifts with pinpoint accuracy.
The shifting pattern of an AMT is controlled by the ECU of the car which signals the system to shift gears based on the throttle output. This system can be calibrated to shift gears in the higher RPM ranges, thereby imparting the car with stronger performance. And to top it all off all AMT-equipped cars come equipped with a manual mode with a simple bi-directional shift path giving you complete control of the car’s gearshifts in case your left hand was getting twitchy.
So, with this, we hope we have debunked all AMT myths and misconceptions.