As we continue to live and learn from fools and from sages, our experiences help us evolve, make us wiser than we were. A couple years ago, if given a choice, I would’ve trashed the idea of driving an automatic in favour of a stick. I still would, if my driving route every day was a private road that wound up to an office at the top which overlooked the Sea. The reality is, I am just one of you who spends almost half my day commuting between work and home. And if your ordeal involves driving, you know your left foot and lower back pray for everything else in your body to die by the end of the day. But then that automatic variant of the car you bought was so expensive, buying it would’ve meant skipping on something else vital, in addition to inflated fuel bills.
When I first drove an AMT equipped car, I disliked what I had experienced. A fellow colleague and I would even joke about how there is a lazy, invisible man who sits inside the gearbox and does the donkey work for you. But as the technology evolved and I spent some decent time driving without a clutch, I’m now a convert who is ready to sacrifice a very tiny part of my motoring experience in favour of convenience and wellbeing. What changed? Well, like most human beings who are averse to change, my preferences too were driven by popular verdicts and notions, which meant I wasn’t ready to see the merits. But then I experienced them behind the wheels of tiny hatchbacks, powered by naturally aspirated petrol motors, paired with an AMT. Which in my personal opinion, is just what you need if you’re going to be driving mostly within the city.
Here’s the thing. Since there is no lag to deal with, and power isn’t concentrated in a particular rev band like a turbodiesel engine, an AMT gearbox on a naturally aspirated car shifts just as better and many times in a much smoother manner than your average driver. Particularly, when you spend some time driving the car and get to understand the system’s behaviour better, you learn the trick of modulating the throttle to suit your driving style. Think you’ll miss out on the fun of driving a manual when you head out of town? There’s this manual mode which allows you to take control and shift sequentially rally driver style. Some of the newer systems even let you rev the nuts off and hold things at the redline unless you’re acting insane.
Sure, if you bring in the rain every time you come across a twisty section of road, you’d find the system trying hard to keep up with your inputs. But even here, enjoyment doesn’t really take a back seat if, by that time you’ve understood the nuances of the system’s marriage with the engine. But for where it matters, for the 90% or more time that your car will spend in the city, your left foot will want to kiss you, your fuel bills will be just the same, and even when inching forward in bumper-to-bumper situations, all you need to do is modulate the brake pedal and thank that ‘Creep’ function most AMTs offer.
Moreover, compared to traditional automatics, AMT variants will only ask for a few thousands more than their manual counterparts, which makes the situation a no-brainer really. Do try it out. It’s quite some fun when someone else bakes your cake, and then you can have it, and eat it too. And if for some reason you think that the technology is only meant for all things economical, you should know that something like the Lamborghini Aventador too employs a 7-Speed AMT to handle all that mammoth power.