Technology has been a key driving force that has made our lives easier, simpler and more comfortable. From pins and needles to engines and trucks, technology has enhanced the way we use our machines. With cities crowded with heavy traffic and constant jams, technology has played a pivotal role in reviving the joy of driving. That technology is the automatic transmission, a pinnacle of technology and engineering that has made our driving experience carefree and comfortable.
But with several automatic transmission technologies already in the market, choosing the correct one can be a crucial element that decides your overall driving comfort. With the launch of the iMT transmission in India, it is the perfect time to compare it to the AMT transmission, the most popular automatic gearbox in India.
What is an iMT?
For those wondering what the Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) actually is. It is in the simplest of words a clutchless manual transmission. Yes, you heard it right. There is no clutch pedal accompanying the brake and accelerator pedals. The shifter is the recognizable manual gearbox we are familiar with.
To understand the working of the iMT, let’s first know its basic components. Firstly, there’s a transmission gear shift lever (TGS), which is joined by an intelligent intention sensor, hydraulic clutch actuator, and an electronic transmission control unit (TCU). All these components work together to shift the gears with a conventional manual gearbox mated to the engine.
Now in order to move a car with iMT, the ‘intention sensor’ on the gear lever gets activated when the gears are shifted. These intention sensors then send a signal to the TCU when the gears need to be changed. Then, the TCU sends a signal to the hydraulic clutch actuator to engage or disengage the clutch plate. Thus, while an AMT and an iMT are both regular manual gearboxes, the AMT uses software to decide when to shift, while in an iMT the control is in your hands.
What is an AMT?
Unlike CVT and DCT automatic gearboxes which use a complex and unconventional gear and clutch arrangement, the AMT on the other hand is a type of automatic transmission that uses the exact same gear and clutch setup which is used in every manual transmission.
The difference, however, lies in the way an AMT operates. In an AMT equipped vehicle, the gear lever and clutch pedal are replaced by a hydraulic clutch actuator system mounted inside the engine which in turn operates both the gear as well as the clutch. The actuators of an automated manual transmission system are linked to the ECU of the vehicle, which gives it the input to control the gears and clutch.
The gear selection pattern and gear ratios is factory-programmed and that data is stored in the ECU. Thus, whenever the RPM reaches a certain level, the ECU automatically controls the actuators to operate both the clutch and gearbox in synchronization. This functions exactly like an automatic gearbox as there is no clutch pedal and gear shifting by the driver. Similar to automatic transmissions, there is also an option to shift manually by engaging the Manual mode.
Which one should you choose: iMT or AMT?
AMT cars have been immensely popular in offering automatic-like operation at a more affordable price. The launch of the iMT gearbox by Hyundai has offered a new alternative that might just prove to be more enticing. So which is better? To answer that, we have compiled a head to head comparison both in terms of convenience, servicing, power delivery, mileage and overall cost benefit.
The very idea behind equipping cars with automatic transmission is to provide users with a comfortable driving experience and the freedom from the constant need to change gears. Since convenience is the primary selling point of automatics, it is crucial that we compare the iMT and AMT head on for the same.
It is important to note that both transmissions are semi-automatic transmissions rather than true automatics. An AMT car will apply the clutch and choose the right gear for you. An iMT car on the other hand will only apply the clutch and requires you to choose the desired gear.
Thus, even though comfort is a subjective element, an AMT is capable of doing the entire gear changing operation for you while an iMT allows you to shift the gears as per your power needs without the exhaustive clutch application. With that said, do keep in mind that the gear change on an AMT car may be abrupt, taking away from the overall driving experience. In contrast, since you shift the gears, an iMT may prove to be a smoother driving experience. A test drive of the two systems is the best way to gauge for yourself which transmission is more convenient for you.
Servicing, Maintenance and Replacement
Considering the fact that iMT is fairly new tech in India, you can expect more comprehensive maintenance needs. This will only be clear when it goes through the test of time in India. However, one thing is certainly clear is the fact that iMT is a less sophisticated technology when compared to an AMT unit, since the gear shifting on board the iMT is done almost in the traditional way. Due to fewer complexities, the iMT will be much cheaper as far as maintenance is concerned.
The AMT on the other hand is made up of a higher number of components making its working far more complex than the iMT. Thus, an AMT car will need more care and maintenance than an iMT to ensure efficient performance through the car’s life.
Power delivery on automatic cars has always lagged behind their manual counterparts. While more expensive automatic transmissions have solved power delivery issues, the same can’t be said for AMT gearboxes. As a driver, you will be dependent on the manufacturer’s gear ratios and software to provide you smooth power delivery. This might be perfectly suited for city driving but more spirited driving will leave you wanting for more.
For an iMT this is where the magic begins. Power delivery is very similar to a manual car, with efficient power delivery being dependent on the driver. However, without the clutch, you may forget to change gears which introduces driver error into your car’s effective power delivery. So, on highways, an iMT car will be a dream to drive while demanding slightly more attention from the driver to stay in the right gear in the city.
Since an AMT transmission is tuned by the manufacturer for the best gear ratios for the car, you can expect an AMT car to offer slightly better mileage than a manual transmission car. This is ideal if you’re looking for consistent mileage from your car while driving in the city and on the highway.
With an iMT car on the other hand, fuel efficiency and mileage are subjective and dependent on the driver’s driving style. Smart driving techniques coupled without the inconvenience of the clutch will work for enhancing fuel efficiency on an iMT the same way it does on a manual transmission.
Overall Cost Benefit
Another crucial aspect to look out for when considering between iMT and AMT is the overall cost benefits both have to offer. And to determine the same, it is important to consider both buying as well as running costs.
When it comes to buying costs, AMT cars are some of the cheapest automatic cars on offer in India. Every manufacturer in India has at least one car featuring an AMT transmission. However, when it comes to iMT cars, the choice is limited considering that the iMT technology is relatively new in India. Hyundai and Kia are the only two brands that currently offer iMT cars such as the Kia Sonet, Hyundai Venue, and the new-gen Hyundai i20.
When comparing running costs, both transmission technologies incur similar costs owing to the complex mechanisms involved. The running costs of both transmission technologies will depend entirely on the way the car is driven.
Best AMT Cars in India
Tata Nexon AMT
1.2-litre turbo petrol
1.5-litre turbo diesel
Volkswagen Polo AT
1.0-litre turbo petrol
Maruti Celerio AMT
Best iMT Cars in India
1.0-litre turbo petrol
1.0-litre turbo petrol
1.0-litre turbo petrol