Our cities are choked with traffic and there are no two ways about this fact. As our cities expand and income levels rise, people are increasingly looking to switch to personal vehicles for transport. Sadly, our physical road infrastructure has not been able to keep pace with the transition meaning that daily traffic snarls are now a regular part of our routine. These jams are especially hurtful for our left legs as they constantly have to remain on the clutch.
Automatic cars, then, seem to be the way out of the pain. Now, ingenious little AMTs are bringing automatic vehicles in the reach of more people, simply because of the lower cost than a conventional CVT or auto-box. Here is our guide to the most affordable automatic city slickers in the country.
Tata Nano XMA AMT (INR 3.01 Lakh)
To me, the Nano represents one of the most fascinating pieces of brilliant engineering to have ever come out of the country. Originally, it was built with a near-impossible price-tag in mind and yet managed to offer almost everything that one expects from a budget vehicle. The smart packaging meant that despite its small form, it could fit four full-sized adults in good comfort and the AC could chill the cabin in no time. It has a cutesy form as well which should have easily appealed to the market. Sadly, the car did not find the commercial success it deserved due to failed-marketing and a poor public perception.
The new Nano is powered by an upgraded version of its 624cc twin-pot motor that puts out 38 PS and 51 Nm of torque. The engine does suffer a bit when the air-conditioning has been switched on but it still manages to perform decently for city run-abouts. The major grouse however, is the lack of sheer refinement – a typical problem of unbalanced two-cylinder motors. The AMT returns an ARAI claimed mileage of 21.9 km/l.
Kwid RXL Easy-R AMT (INR 3.83 Lakh)
Cashing in on Indian’s love for everything SUV, the Kwid was Renault’s attempt at cracking the entry-level segment and it found resounding success. Featuring a jacked-up stance with an upright face and exaggerated haunches, the Kwid looks every bit like the baby brother of the Duster. The interiors too, are smart and the AMT variant gets a unique rotary dial on the dash to select the gear, freeing up more space in the cabin.
The AMT version is powered by the 1.0 Litre engine that puts out 67 BHP and 91 Nm of turning moment. The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic which we felt was tuned rather well for a balance of city and highway driving. We were able to get real-time figures of 16-17 km/l during our test which translate into really low running costs.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 VXi AGS (INR 4.05 Lakh)
The Alto has been one of the best-selling cars in the country for years now. It offers a sorted, practical cabin with an inoffensive (if uninspiring) shell that makes it palatable to budget buyers. This, paired with the reliability and promise of easy serviceability that comes with the Maruti badge makes it a no-brainer for anyone looking to buy their first car.
The Alto is powered by the proven all-Aluminium 1.0 Litre K10B engine that pushes out 68 BHP and 90 Nm to the front wheels. In the Auto Gear Shift avatar, it comes mated to an AMT box giving it a claimed mileage of 24.7 km/l.
Maruti Suzuki Celerio LXi AGS (INR 4.48 Lakh)
The Celerio has a more interesting shell than its Alto cousin. Even though it is not revolutionary in any sense, the styling is much more mature and grown up than its cheaper cousin. The interiors also feature a fresh dual-tone look that seems much more up-market than the Alto.
The Celerio carries the same engine and transmission combination as the Alto K10 and offers similar real life performance and economy figures.
Maruti Suzuki WagonR VXi AMT (INR 4.83 Lakh)
The WagonR receives a typical tall-boy stance and thus, form follows function on this one. There is a small hood up front, large windows and slab shaped sides that mean that it is distinctly uninspiring to look at, especially given the long time since this design has been around now. Interiors have a neat water-fall design that is very practical.
No prizes for guessing the powertrain that pins the WagonR AMT. Yes, it receives the same power-plant as the Alto K10 and the Celerio, which are priced lower on this list.