We are a country obsessed with fuel efficiency, hence we were never cognizant of the convenience that an automatic transmission offers. Moreover, the automatics of the yesteryear were quite expensive and there weren’t many on sale either.
But with shifting times, we need the convenience of an affordable two-pedal setup. That’s where the AMT (an acronym for Automated Manual Transmission) gearbox comes into the picture. In this report, we’ll talk about how you can drive an AMT car while being as efficient as a manual counterpart, if not more.
In simple terms, an AMT (automated manual transmission or sometimes automated-clutch manual transmission or clutchless manual transmission) is simply a manual gearbox with an electronically controlled actuator attached onto it. This actuator does the shifting of gears for you depending on inputs from the driver like the position of the throttle, speed of the vehicle, et al. There’s no clutch pedal here, just an accelerator and brake pedal for the driver to operate, similar to what we have in a proper automatic car.
One of the advantages of AMT is that it is much more affordable than a conventional automatic. It is pretty robust and easier to maintain as well. Although its technology was first born in the crucible of Formula 1, these AMTs are gaining ample popularity in the mass market car segment in India.
Driving an AMT
Driving an AMT equipped car is as simple as driving any other automatic. You slot the lever (or rotate the dial, in some cars) into the driving mode (D, A or whichever is the drive mode), lift off the brake pedal and off the car goes ahead. All that the driver needs to do is modulate the accelerator pedal and use brakes to slow down or stop. Unlike the manual counterparts, the AMT cars don’t stall. Most of the AMTs these days are equipped with ‘creep’ function. So when in traffic, just lifting off the brake pedal will make the car ‘creep’ in traffic with no need of nudging the accelerator pedal at all.
Some AMTs also come with a convenience of manual mode where the driver can take command of the shifts as the AMT will hold on to the slotted gear until the driver decides to shift a gear himself. Also, with the manual mode, AMT can hold on to the gear or downshift when required to gain a similar benefit of engine braking. Since, unlike a manual transmission, the AMT on its own cannot perform engine braking.
Efficiently driving an AMT
1. Try to keep your inputs smooth
When driving on, try maintaining a steady throttle input. Irregular inputs might confuse the electronic brain of the AMT, and therefore it is recommended to drive with consistency while avoiding any sudden changes like hard acceleration or braking. Keep a smooth momentum and the AMT will coast along with ease while returning a handsome kmpl.
2. Steady right foot can reduce AMT jerk
One of the inherent qualities of AMT transmission is that an unpleasant jerk is felt when the gearbox is upshifting. This, however, can be greatly reduced if you could predict the engine’s power delivery and corresponding upshift rpm. All you need to do is gently let the revs rise until the predicted upshifting rpm, and keep your foot light and steady and the gearbox will upshift without that unwanted head-nod. Of course, you’ll need a bit of practice to perfect it. This smooth-shifting will also help in reducing fuel consumption.
3. Do not rest your foot on the brake pedal
Since there’s no clutch, drivers tend to get unconsciously ready to apply the brake pedal. If you do that, an additional load is created on the engine which in turn makes it work harder, thus consuming more fuel. This will also wear out the brakes earlier than usual. So simply use the brakes only when it is required. Also never use the left foot on any of the pedals.
4. Avoid driving aggressively
It is a given, that fuel consumption is directly related to how hard the engine is working. In simple terms, if you let your engine rev more, it consumes more fuel. When driving aggressively, the driver might keep revving the engine. Now since the shifting is controlled by an electronic device, it won’t bode well with an aggressive driving style of accelerating hard, then slowing down only to accelerate quickly once again. It is reported that aggressive driving reduces fuel economy by a whopping 33 per cent. So it’s simple, just drive calmly.
5. Plan your overtakes
As mentioned earlier, the shifting is managed by an electronic unit. Since there might be an inherent delay in the gearbox while shifting, you’ll need to plan your overtakes properly. So that your engine is in the right rev and the gearbox is in the correct gear. Otherwise, midway through the overtake you’ll realise there’s not enough momentum and you will be forced to push the throttle down thus causing the AMT to downshift abruptly and this entire process will consume more fuel than it should have, if you had planned it properly.
6. Engage Neutral whenever possible
Imagine you are at a traffic light, you hold down the brakes and the gearbox is still in drive. Continue doing this and there will be unnecessary load on the brakes, while the engine won’t settle down on idle thus consuming more fuel. So it is recommended to slot into Neutral whenever possible and engage the Handbrake.
7. Careful when getting off the mark
Once engaging in the drive, do not accelerate hard right off the line. Since the clutch action takes time, it might put needless pressure on the drivetrain since the engine will be revving at a higher speed in relation to the transmission. This would put additional load on the engine and will also cause more wear and tear. So be careful when getting off the mark, just use the initial momentum and then glide through with gentle throttle inputs.
8. Get acquainted with your engine/AMT
The longer time you spend behind the wheel, the better you’d understand the characteristics of the engine and the gearing ratios. Try understanding its finer details and we bet the engine would return the favour by being more frugal.
Coasting essentially means to move or make progress without using power or as little effort as possible. In AMT cars, coasting simply means moving forward with your momentum without applying any throttle at all. If you continue coasting when driving through the city traffic, it will prominently help in reducing fuel consumption.
10. Follow all other fuel-saving measures
Lastly, while driving an AMT, you still need to mind all the other fuel-saving measures. Like ensuring proper maintenance, maintaining an appropriate tyre pressure, turning off the engine on red lights, changing oil and air filter at right intervals, checking for wheel alignment and others.
Some Dos and Don’ts
- AMTs are different as compared to the CVTs and DCTs, treat them like one.
- Start anticipating traffic lights, slow down and time it so that when the light turns green you could still have some momentum moving forward.
- Approach hill climbs at proper speed and gear. Calculate beforehand so that you need not charge up the engine when on an incline.
- Learn coasting as it will help return better mileage than you can anticipate.
- Maintain proper traction by taking care of the car’s tyres. Correct traction means good fuel economy.
- Remember, you can either drive aggressively or get good fuel efficiency, not both.
- Avoid abrupt driving and be as smooth as possible behind the wheel.
- Do not be harsh on throttle especially when driving on difficult terrains.
- Do not engage neutral when going downhill.
- Do not use your left leg for operating either of the foot pedals.
Keep these simple and effective methods in mind when you drive an AMT and you can save your hard-earned money with ease.