Affordable automatic cars are only just gaining traction in India thanks to the Automated Manual Transmission. While that’s all well and good, we believe that an AMT car is also faster than its conventional CVT automatic counterpart.

You see us lot who review cars do not have enough to complain about when it comes to these cars. “AMTs have jerky gear changes”. “CVTs are wheezy and inefficient”. That’s what you hear most of the time. Representing the AMT department is our trusted long-term Ignis while the CVT corner is being filled in by the recently (aesthetically) updated Micra CVT.

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AMT & CVT

Ignis has the advantage with a lower kerb weight and a more powerful 81bhp engine with an extra cylinder. The Micra on the other hand comes with a similar displacement 1.2 litre petrol engine, but its continuously variable automatic transmission ensures power is delivered seamlessly and in a smooth manner.

When you lift off whenever you want a gear change, the automated manual transmission will upshift smoothly. It’s also worth noting that the transmission will only change gears above 2,000 rpm at initial speeds, a limitation of sorts when crawling between speed breakers. But otherwise it’s not too bad on its own. And when in need for power all you need to do is mash the throttle pedal and the car will downshift up to two gears quickly to give you immediate acceleration. Maruti has always had good petrol engines and this 1.2 is no different, it is rev happy at all times and sounds good too.

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The powertrain of the Micra CVT on the other hand has a ‘wheezy’ (oops) nature. No doubt it is smoother to drive without having to think about gearchanges but if you mash the long pedal all of a sudden, it does have a jerky response at times. While that is not a deal breaker, what turns out to be is the lack of poke owing to the associated rubber band effect of CVTs and mechanical power losses. As a result, the engine is always noisy while driving around and you do not get immediate throttle response when you put your foot down.

Things get even worse for CVT when you do outright acceleration runs. Put your foot down in ‘Sports’ mode  and the wail from the powertrain overshadows actual physical movement from the car. The end result was a leisurely 0 – 100 km/h time of 16.25 seconds.

Performance Comparison

The Ignis beat the Micra’s 0 – 100 km/h time by close to 3 seconds with a time of 13.34 seconds. Reason being that the AMT unit does not restrict the engine’s performance under load. Its only under gearshifts that you lose time over a manual car.

In real world terms, the Ignis feels considerably faster than the Micra under outright acceleration. A fact represented by a 0 – 200 meter time of 12.50 seconds for the Ignis and 13.64 second time for the Micra. The Ignis in fact uses surprisingly less tarmac to reach 100 km/h from standstill than the Micra. On the whole though, the Ignis feels willing whereas the Micra feels like its lugging quite the invisible load around.

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Verdict

So there you have it, if you are in the market for an affordable automatic and are looking for a responsive set of wheels, go buy an AMT car rather than what people call a ‘proper’ automatic. For it will be more fuel efficient and affordable!

 

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.2 AMT

Engine: 1,197cc / 4-Cylinders / 16 Valves / DOHC

Fuel: Petrol

Transmission: 5-Speed AMT / Front Wheel Drive

Power: 81bhp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 113Nm @ 4,200rpm

Kerb weight: 850kg

Price: Rs. 6.30 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)

Nissan Micra 1.2 CVT

Engine: 1,198cc / 3-Cylinders / 16 valves / DOHC

Fuel: Petrol

Transmission: CVT / Front Wheel Drive

Power: 76bhp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 104Nm @ 4,400rpm

Kerb weight: 930kg

Price: Rs. 6.95 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)

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