The AMT version of the NuvoSport has specs that are identical to the manual version but it does away with the Power/Eco mode. So you get the 1.5-litre mHawk diesel motor that does 100bhp at 3750rpm, and 240Nm of torque between 1600rpm and 2800rpm. A five-speed AMT box takes care of transmission duties. Once you’re ready to get on the move, your hands naturally go for the gear shift and that’s when you realise that the lever is a tad too small. It also feels farther from the driver than it should. But you forget all this when you start analysing the uniquely designed ‘+’ shaped transmission gate. A few trials on how to get each mode actuated and a quick spin is all it takes for you to understand the shift layout.
As you slot into auto mode and back off the brake pedal, you’re greeted by a hesitance to crawl. This is much more pronounced while reversing and will call for some getting used to in ‘stop-go’ driving, especially on inclined surfaces. On the go, it is difficult not to notice the extra refinement compared to the Quanto. However, the shifts are slow and the AMT pause is even more pronounced when compared to any other AMT gearbox in general. The drive feels flat after 3500rpm and there is no grunt from the engine after that. It makes more sense to drive the NuvoSport AMT sedately as there’s loads of torque below 2000rpm.
To give you an impression of how this AMT manages its job, here’s the breakup. In ‘Auto’ mode and sedate acceleration, all the gears shift at 2100rpm, however, floor the pedal and the transmission shifts between 3500-4500rpm to keep you in the midst of the power band. Nevertheless, it needs to be noted that the AMTs 0-100kmph sprint is way slower than the manual, by 4.44sec! What makes matters worse is that the AMT and manual have recorded similar in-gear accelerations for the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs. It kills the whole idea as automatics are supposed to post quicker times by using the kickdown feature. Mahindra refused to divulge the weight of the NuvoSport, and when we weighed it, it touched the scales at around 1.7 tonnes. We believe that this is one of the reasons which dampen the overall performance of the car.
Slot into the ‘Manual’ mode and the system lets you shift as you please. Nevertheless, all gears automatically shift around the 4500rpm mark. On the whole, the AMT really suffices as a decent city dweller and makes for an option for those buyers who want to avoid the rubbery long throw gearshift that’s on the manual version.
We noticed that the steering is a tad too big but you get over this shortcoming eventually. Also, the NuvoSport feels best when driven over smooth surfaces. Anything less, like a patched or broken surface at any speed and you’ll be confronted with a lot of sideways movement that disrupts passenger comfort. However, there’s no stress about hitting any road as the NuvoSport makes zilch suspension racket. Despite the harshness of any terrain, it feels rugged and built to last. Though braking is adequate for most situations, up the pace and you will be left wanting more feedback from the pedal.