Is manual or automatic car better in India?
The question 'which car is better automatic or manual in India?' is in the minds of most new car buyers in India. We will compare manual vs automatic car pros and cons here to make it easier for you to decide which car to buy, automatic or manual in India.
Why automatic cars were not popular in India all this while is mainly because of the fear of low mileage with automatic cars. But the latest automatic cars in India have newer types of automatic gears like AMT transmission, Dual clutch transmission and CVT transmission: all car automatic gear types explained in detail further down on this page.
The fuel economy of new generation automatic cars are as good as, if not better than manual transmission cars. The regular automatic cars have Torque Converter type automatic gear transmission which does have a slightly lesser mileage. We will explain these different kinds of automatic gear transmissions for cars below and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each of these auto gear types for cars.
Manual vs Automatic transmission pros and cons
In India the manual gear stick shift model cars are cheaper than the automatic versions of the same model cars. A few years ago this difference between the price of Manual and Automatic cars in India was more than a lakh of Rupees, but now the price difference between Automatic and Manual versions of the same model cars have come down drastically, especially for the new types of Automatic cars known as AMT or Automated Manual Transmission.
The main advantage of an automatic car is the driving comfort. An automatic car does not have a clutch pedal. Once you start driving an automatic car in traffic jams you realise what you have been missing all these years. You don't have to change gears or use the clutch every few seconds in an automatic car. This driving comfort of an automatic car in a traffic jam has to be experienced for you to know what you have been missing. No more being so tired while driving through the constant traffic jams in the Cities of India, because you do not have to be pressing the clutch and changing gears all the time.
The present generation of automatic cars available in India are only slightly more expensive than the manual version of the same model car, but the advantages you gain is a lot by way of driving comfort. Another big advantage of Automatic cars is that the car will not roll backwards on an uphill slope when you stop and then want to move forward. In a manual car you have to be an expert to avoid the car from going backwards when you stop and start on an upwards slope.
Apart from the driving comfort, the other advantage of automatic cars is that the maintenance cost of an automatic gear car could be lesser than a manual car over the lifetime of the car. This is because the gears are changed automatically at the correct engine RPM and speeds and the driving is always very smooth without any jerks. This contributes to longer life of the drive train parts of the car including longer tyre life. Automatic cars do not require clutch plate replacements.
One disadvantage of automatic cars, people say is the ability of automatic cars to get quick acceleration when you want to overtake. This is not true. All you need to do to get quick acceleration in an automatic car is to 'Kick Down' the accelerator of the automatic car to the floor, and this will down shift the gear down, rev up the engine and you will get the necessary acceleration required to overtake.
With an automatic car you will have to invest in a pair of Jumper Cables (costing about Rs.500-) to start the car in case the battery has gone flat or dead and the self starter cannot start the car engine. You cannot push start an automatic car as you can with a manual car. You can avoid this problem by making sure your battery is in top condition always, especially in winter months of cold climate areas.
Different types of automatic gearboxes for cars in India
The different types of automatic gearboxes for cars available in India now are the traditional torque converter type and the newer types of automatic gearboxes like AMT (Automated Manual Transmission), Dual Clutch Transmission or DCT Automatic and the CVT automatic gear (Continuously Variable Transmission). We will give a brief explanation of all these different types of automatic gearboxes for cars here.
What is Automated Manual Transmission AMT cars in India
AMT or Automated Manual Transmission automatic gear cars are the latest trend in India. The first model of an AMT auto geared car was the Maruti Celerion which was a hit with Indian car buyers. Now more car models in India are coming out with AMT versions of their car models.
Automated Manual Transmission commonly called AMT is basically a manual transmission car in which the operation of the clutch and the gear changing is done automatically with the help of a computerised electro-hydraulic mechanism. An AMT car will not have a clutch and the gear lever will only have the options of Neutral, Reverse and Forward. There is also the control to upshift or downshift the gear manually with the +/- option.
The upshift or downshift +/- option on the gear lever helps to select the gear, for example when you want to overtake you can shift to a lower gear (from 4th to 3rd gear for example) just by tapping the AMT gear shift stick. You press the accelerator and rev up the engine at the lower gear and you will get the necessary acceleration required to overtake.
Another very important advantage of an AMT automatic car is that the AMT car will not roll backwards when you stop and go on an uphill slope. In a manual car you have to be an expert using the clutch and brakes together to avoid rolling backwards when you stop and start on an upwards slope.
Added to all these advantages of the AMT car, is the fact that an AMT auto gear car actually gives better mileage than a manual car. This is because the electronic brain of the AMT auto gear car is a much better driver than any of us and knows exactly when to change gears and save on petrol or diesel.
Dual Clutch automatic cars in India
Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission - DCT, is not a new technology but an old technology that was invented by a Frenchman, Adolphe Kégresse in 1935 as the AutoServe Transmission System.
The first car to be fitted with a Dual Clutch transmission was the 'Citroën Traction Avant' in 1939 but the technology was abandoned due to reliability issues. Now with the emergence electronic computer control chips to control the operations of the DCT gear box, the Double Clutch Auto Transmissions are becoming more popular by the day and all the main car companies of the world are developing this technology and having more models of their cars fitted with DCT gearboxes. Volkswagen Group calls their DCT gearbox the 'Direct-Shift Gearbox' or DSG gearbox. Other car companies have their own trade names for the Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission like S-Tronic (Audi), Euro Twin Clutch Transmission (Fiat), PowerShift (Ford and Volvo), EcoShift (Hyundai), SpeedShift (Mercedes-Benz), TC-SST (Mitsubishi) and PDK (Porsche).
Let us try to explain how the Dual Clutch Transmission - DCT works: There are actually two separate gearboxes with each one having its own clutch. One set of these two gearboxes for the DCT gear system has the odd gears and the other the even gears. When the car is driven each gearbox gets ready with the next gear engaged.
Let us try to explain the Dual Clutch Automatic gear transmission by an example of a 7 Speed DCT with 2 clutches 'A' and 'B'. To clutch A are connected the odd numbered gears 1, 3, 5 and 7 and to clutch 'B' are connected the even gears 2, 4 and 6. When the car is first started it engages Clutch A and the 1st gear is locked. So the car starts in the first gear and moves forward. At this point clutch B is disengaged but the second gear in it is locked in place. When the car attains sufficient speed in the first gear, clutch A is disengaged and simultaneously at the same time clutch B is engaged with its 2nd gear locked. This is a very smooth process and there is no time gap in between shifting Gears. When clutch B is engaged and Clutch A is free, the first gear in gearbox A is disengaged and 3rd gear is engaged and ready to take over. So gear changing takes place on the disengaged clutch and it stands ready to take over. The process continues until gear 7 in our example here is engaged. The same procedure happens in reverse when the car is slowing down.
In the Dual Clutch Transmission gear box you do not feel the car slowing down between gear shifts, in fact you do not feel a thing except for the steady acceleration of the car starting from standstill. In cars without Dual Clutch gear box, there is a slowing down of the car in between gear shifts, because during the time of gearshift the clutch is dis-engaged and there is no power to the car wheels during gear shifting. The Dual Clutch DCT type gearboxes are widely used in racing cars and are considered one of the most efficient automatic gearboxes. Dual Clutch Transmission gearbox also improves the mileage of the car and gives more Kilometers per Liter, better than that of a manual car.
Some of the Dual Clutch automatic cars in India are the Chevrolet Cruze and models from the VolksWagen and Skoda Cars. Most of the luxury expensive cars like the Mercedes Benz S-class, have Dual Clutch automatic gearboxes in India.
What is CVT Automatic Transmission
CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission and is an efficient automatic gear system for cars. The basic principal of the working of a CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission is of continuously varying the diameter of the belt coupled driving and driven pulleys. How a CVT Automatic car gear-box works can be explained in a simple and easy to understand way as follows:
In the diagram here, assume the cone at the top is the car engine drive shaft and the lower cone is driving the wheels of the car. The two cones are coupled with a belt drive. The lever shown on the right in the picture, is connected to the belt and is able to push or pull the belt to the left or right, thus sliding the belt over the two cones. When the lever is pulled to the right, the belt slides over to the right side where the diameter of the cone on top from the engine becomes smaller and the diameter of the cone below to the car wheels become larger. This means that the engine has to turn more times to keep the wheels at the same speed, or if the engine speed is the same, the wheel will turn slower.
So pulling the lever to the right has the effect of putting the car to a lower gear like the first gear and pushing the lever to the left has the effect of putting the car in the top gear like the 4th gear. This is a stepless process and there are infinite number of speed ratios possible. A cluth is not necessary for CVT gear changing, but a clutch is necessary when the car is idling to disengage the wheel from the engine when the engine is running and the car is stopped.
CVT is one of the best types of Automatic gear transmission system for a car and gives better fuel mileage than other automatic transmissions. In fact the fuel economy in a CVT automatic car is better than same model manual cars. Nissan car company has been at the forefront of developing CVT automatic transmission technology, though most car manufacturers have their own CVT gear boxes. Nissan in India offer CVT transmissions on their car models like the Micra and Sunny.