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Old 16th June 2022, 18:22   #1
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Default New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

It is time to buy a new car and as with most purchases, analysis-paralysis had kicked in. After a few months of research, I have zeroed down on 2 options, but before that, some background will help.

Background
Our current garage consists of a 2013 WagonR and a pre-owned 2010 A-Star Automatic. For most of the ownership period, the WagonR has been my drive and A-Star my wife's. She cannot drive a manual. The vehicle to be replaced is the A-Star as it is quite old now, rattles on the horrible Bangalore roads, and we want to part with it while we can get some value.

Additional problems with the A-Star include:
  1. A windshield which has developed wiper scratch marks which cause visibility problems at night on narrow 2 lane roads with oncoming traffic light.
  2. Tiny ORVMs
  3. Poor headlights. Couple of years back I got these replaced by more powerful ones, which went kaput. The mechanic said the wiring cannot support better headlamps and I have to live with it or keep changing them.

All the above put together make driving at night difficult and even dangerous. Bangalore roads are poorly lit and I don't want my wife driving such a vehicle any longer. Hence the decision to part with it rather than the Wagon R, which still has some years left in it.

Once replaced, the new AT car will become the primary vehicle. Our workplaces are now walking distance from each others' and therefore we commute together. We plan to use only one car 90% of the time, with the WagonR becoming a stand by car if there are guests at home and more than 5 need to be carried.

A very important consideration is that the new vehicle has to last at least 10 years as we are not planning to purchase anything in between. We are also not people who like frequent visits to the workshops or expensive repair bills. Maruti has spoilt us in this department.

Lessons from past driving experiences
  1. Before Covid we used to do a fair amount of outstation trips, but as the vehicles have aged and safety consciousness has set in, this has reduced.
  2. Both our vehicles are not great performers, and more than once on highways we have been in tricky situations while overtaking.
  3. The A-Star has given us some nightmarish moments on steep hills. On one particular trip back from Goa to Bangalore, we took a less frequented route (Tirali Ghat, IIRC), which had very steep hair pin bends and the A-Star kept upshifting from 1st to 2nd gear, which made climbing next to impossible.
  4. We have also suffered underbody hits, in the rain battered roads of Western Ghats / Nilgiris which we visit fairly often

This has made us conclude that our next vehicle must have:
  1. Decent ground clearance
  2. Enough power for safe overtaking
  3. A gearbox that is competent on hills
A host of other decisions have gone into the shortlisting, but I won't go into them as many other 'What Car' threads have answered those queries. The 2 shortlisted cars are:

Nexon
XUV300


As you all know, these come only with the AMT gearbox and hence I will quickly come to the questions:
  1. Is it possible (or advisable) to drive the AMT as a manual in the long term? Since my wife is a sedate driver and will be driving only in the city, she can use it on AMT mode, while when I am driving I can use the manual mode. Please note that even in the city it will be me who will be driving most of the time when we both commute to office together. It's just that the AT option has to be there, in case my wife is driving alone.
  2. Is the AMT good enough on steep hills? Will the gear auto upshift even if I have switched to manual mode?
  3. Is any AMT gearbox good enough to last 10-12 years? I know they haven't been around too long in mainstream vehicles so I can understand if there is no clear answer to this.
  4. Is overtaking really too much of a pain with AMT cars?

Some important conditions that went into shortlisting:
  1. Should be able to seat 5 comfortably
  2. Longish vehicles like City / Verna are to be avoided as my wife is not very good at parking and manoeuvring tight spots.
  3. AC should be effective as I like the cabin pretty chilled.
  4. Budget is 13-14 L OTR Bangalore

Magnite and Kiger were rejected because of longevity / support confidence
Scross is a strong contender, but new variant ambiguity (FOMO) is playing on my mind.

I would also love to know the views of Nexon / XUV300 owners on the quality of headlamps used. Is the illumination adequate?

Looking forward to your views.

Thanks

Last edited by Malyaj : 16th June 2022 at 18:27.
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Old 16th June 2022, 19:00   #2
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

XUV 300 is a great option and the AMT does the job pretty well IMO. My 2cents on your queries

I drive mostly with manual mode, and can seamlessly throw her in auto mode whenever I feel like. I dont know about a long term effect as I’ve had her for 2 yrs now

On manual mode, it wont auto up shift, but if you slow down it will auto downshift. I have not faced any issues with overtaking on highway or in the city. I have done a few short trips on the ghats and she has behaved perfectly in manual mode whether going uphill or downhill.

The hill hold works like a charm and is extremely useful in choke block traffic, especially on inclines like getting on a flyover.

AC is chilly on the front but there are no rear AC vents. I haven’t found this to be a major concern but would have been a good to have feature.

At your budget I’d suggest going for the W8 which has most of the nice features. I dont know if the W8 (o) will fit in that budget and you may have to stretch a bit. Diesel is more expensive but totally worth it and probably best in this segment.

The headlamps are okay but not the best.

Overall a very competent car and fun to drive. You probably find reasons to do a road trip whenever you can

Nexon is also a great car. Reasons I didnt go with Nexon is because I found the seating more comfortable in XUV and the ride quality much better especially in the city.
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Old 16th June 2022, 20:16   #3
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malyaj View Post
This has made us conclude that our next vehicle must have:
  1. A gearbox that is competent on hills
A host of other decisions have gone into the shortlisting, but I won't go into them as many other 'What Car' threads have answered those queries. The 2 shortlisted cars are:

Nexon
XUV300


As you all know, these come only with the AMT gearbox and hence I will quickly come to the questions:
  • Is the AMT good enough on steep hills? Will the gear auto upshift even if I have switched to manual mode?
  • Is any AMT gearbox good enough to last 10-12 years? I know they haven't been around too long in mainstream vehicles so I can understand if there is no clear answer to this.
  • Is overtaking really too much of a pain with AMT cars?
Thanks
By its very nature, AMT is not the best choice for the considerations you have in mind. My brother-in-law owns a Nexon AMT and I have also driven it extensively. Even being an AMT, it does a great job in most situations, but where I do feel it lacking is in hilly and steep areas-being an AMT there is no hill-hold and like a typical AMT, sometimes it has a mind of it's own when shifting-especially in urgent situations. Of course, you can drive it in manual as you mentioned, but then I don't see the point. An automatic car should do the job in AT mode at least 70-80% of the time.

In summary, the Nexon is a great car and gets most of the things right, but the one area where the AMT struggles (based on my personal experience) fall right into one of your key requirements. Again in my personal view, overtaking sometimes is a pain in AMT cars, but the Nexon's engine manages to mask the inefficiency of the AMT to a great extent.

I think the Venue and Sonet also meets your need and comes with a turbo petrol and a proper AT? Any reason to drop those?

Last edited by Rajeevraj : 16th June 2022 at 20:18.
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Old 16th June 2022, 20:26   #4
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Of course, you can drive it in manual as you mentioned, but then I don't see the point. An automatic car should do the job in AT mode at least 70-80% of the time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
I think the Venue and Sonet also meets your need and comes with a turbo petrol and a proper AT? Any reason to drop those?
Thanks for your perspective @Rajeevraj.

Actually I don't mean to drive it in Manual mode all the time. Having read not so great reviews about AMT gearboxes, I was wondering that if it really gets annoying, can I switch to manual mode more often and will it wear out the gearbox. I myself love the comfort of automatics and in all likelihood will use it within the city (or even the highway if it is not so much of a bother).

I did consider the Sonet and Venue but did not find the rear seat space good enough. I am also not very confident if the long term ownership of these two cars is easy on the pocket.

Last edited by Malyaj : 16th June 2022 at 20:27.
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Old 17th June 2022, 12:03   #5
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

I am in the same boat as you where I am looking for csuv in the range of 10-15 lakhs. Had shortlisted nexon , xuv300 , scross & brezza. Didn't shortlist venue or sonet as they were DCT's and am not sure of there long term reliability. Also ,after going through loads of videos and t-bhp threads could conclude torque converters are better than AMT's (Happy to be corrected if I am wrong in my conclusion ). Reference thread (Which type of Automatic Transmission do you prefer?).

Narrowed it down to scross & brezza, decided to skip scross as the current model is about to be replaced and I cannot wait for another 6 months for new model to be launched. So , have pre-booked brezza for now.
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Old 18th June 2022, 14:30   #6
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

A fellow XUV300 D AMT owner from Bangalore here. I was in the same boat as you last year and decided on XUV. The engine is really a gem, and the power is something which will never let you down (even in AMT). But the main problem I face with the AMT (coupled with the very sensitive accelerator), is the jerky low speed ride in Bangalore traffic. On the highways, I don't think any other sub 4-m car gives as much joy (maybe Ecosport does - but its not on sale anymore). Coming to your questions

Quote:
1. Is it possible (or advisable) to drive the AMT as a manual in the long term? Since my wife is a sedate driver and will be driving only in the city, she can use it on AMT mode, while when I am driving I can use the manual mode. Please note that even in the city it will be me who will be driving most of the time when we both commute to office together. 2. It's just that the AT option has to be there, in case my wife is driving alone.
3. Is the AMT good enough on steep hills? Will the gear auto upshift even if I have switched to manual mode?
4. Is any AMT gearbox good enough to last 10-12 years? I know they haven't been around too long in mainstream vehicles so I can understand if there is no clear answer to this.
Is overtaking really too much of a pain with AMT cars?
1. I have done so from time to time, but the bigger problem is not the shift itself, but the relatively large shift time. When driving with a gentle foot, it is not very noticeable, but even a slight bit of enthusiasm will be meet with noticeable to intrusive gear shifts. Even when changing gears manually, you will have to ensure you don't go back to the accelerator very quickly and wait for around 1 sec, before pushing it again.
One advantage of XUV AMT is that you don't need to switch between manual and auto mode, you can just tap the mono shifter ahead, and the car will up a gear (and move to manual mode, if you were in auto mode)

3. I have driven to Coorg, and bit in the hills around Bangalore. Never faced any issue. The gears don't upshift much at the wrong time when driving in the hills (in my limited experience)

4. Overtaking has never been hard. It's almost a breeze. I have learned to time my throttles to take into account the gear down and turbo lag, and highway drives are a pleasure.

Also, I believe XUV is the best sub 4m CSUV for 5 people so it would be a good choice, though I hope it's for short city trips, because the boot space is really very small, and I have found it hard to manage even airport runs.

I had also driven the Nexon, and the AMT in Nexon seemed even worse than XUV to me, getting confused whenever I slowed down at the numerous speed breakers here in Bangalore.

One last thing, I would like to mention is that XUV 300 has really been disappointing for me in stop and go and slow moving traffic. I just hate it , and it's impossible to find gaps which open up when traffic moves slowly. So, if you plan to use your car for heavy city use, I would recommend you to look at more options, like the newly launched Brezza.
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Old 19th June 2022, 08:54   #7
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowflakes View Post
I am in the same boat as you where I am looking for csuv in the range of 10-15 lakhs. Had shortlisted nexon , xuv300 , scross & brezza. Didn't shortlist venue or sonet as they were DCT's.

Narrowed it down to scross & brezza, decided to skip scross as the current model is about to be replaced and I cannot wait for another 6 months for new model to be launched. So , have pre-booked brezza for now.
Same here, currently looking for a car to replace our family 2013 dzire vxi. Initially booked new baleno top end AMT, but now i have booked the new brezza top end AT. Didn't go for venue, sonet due to long term reliability. The car we buy now will stay in the family for the next 10+ years if priorities don't change.
Had considered scross, but seems a bit dated and the new model is coming so didn't seem like a good option.
Nexon and xuv were not taken into consideration due to the fact that there is just 1 dealership in my home town and they don't seem to have good reviews, adding to that are the constant news of tata owners dissatisfied with the delivered product.
So now I have high hopes on the brezza. I just hope the top end model comes within 16.4lak on road mangalore.
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Old 20th June 2022, 09:36   #8
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

TC > CVT > AMT. DCT's generally are best suited to performance/enthusiast cars. In India, DCT's are used otherwise, especially below 15L.
So the best automatics are as mentioned above.

And Nexon vs XUV300, you can never go wrong with either. The headlight power is adequate in both. Aircon, overtaking effort are pretty good in both.
However, I also request you to consider the upcoming Brezza as well (expecting to come with the 6-speed TC of the XL6) which is the best fit for your requirement.
Alternatively, you can also try the i20 iVT (CVT) and Magnite/Kiger CVT. The Renault-Nissan duo are also a fantastic proposition for your requirements except the space which you may check it out.
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Old 20th June 2022, 09:43   #9
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

If I have to choose between Nexon and XUV300 my choice anyday will be XUV300. Check rear seat comfort during TD of both Nexon and XUV300 and you will have your answer.
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Old 20th June 2022, 11:25   #10
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

I am intrigued by this semi- manual/ automatic nature of the AMT in "Manual " mode. One needs to upshift manually but not downshift. On the few occasions I have driven an AMT, I felt you need to visually check the instrument panel as you don't get that intuitive feel. A regular manual of course provides that tactile feel of the gear position so it becomes muscle memory while changing. I am in active consideration of a small city hatch and I haven't exactly yet warmed up to the AMT models I have driven. Would like experienced AMT users to comment.
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Old 23rd June 2022, 00:03   #11
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

Not sure about your budget but will not recommend a Tata for 10+ years.
My #1 go to choice for around 12-13L on road would be an S Cross AT. If it’s only between Nexon and XUV, provided you are ok with boot space my pick would be the XUV300.
Wild card entry- Honda Amaze/Jazz CVT.
Simple funda- for a bullet proof ownership, get a Japanese engineered product (not just cars, in general)
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Old 23rd June 2022, 12:33   #12
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

I would suggest looking at i20 N Line IMT. It meets most of your requirements and more spacious than the compact SUVs. Would be more fun to drive too. Since you are planning to drive AMT in manual mode more often, IMT will suit you well.
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Old 24th June 2022, 00:05   #13
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malyaj View Post
  1. Is it possible (or advisable) to drive the AMT as a manual in the long term? Since my wife is a sedate driver and will be driving only in the city, she can use it on AMT mode, while when I am driving I can use the manual mode. Please note that even in the city it will be me who will be driving most of the time when we both commute to office together. It's just that the AT option has to be there, in case my wife is driving alone.
  2. Is the AMT good enough on steep hills? Will the gear auto upshift even if I have switched to manual mode?
  3. Is any AMT gearbox good enough to last 10-12 years? I know they haven't been around too long in mainstream vehicles so I can understand if there is no clear answer to this.
  4. Is overtaking really too much of a pain with AMT cars?
Here you go.
  1. Yes, it is possible. One can effortlessly switch between AT and manual in all the models available in the market. Some cars have a push button on the gear level for this (i10 Nios), while some others (S-Presso) does it without the button press.
  2. AMT is not a good option in hills (unless you have a mode where maximum allowed gear level, say 1st gear or 2nd gear can be locked in; e.g. 'S' mode in Fortuner). But the manual option should work. It is just like the gear system of the good old manual cars. It will not auto upshift. You will have full control. As a matter of fact, better control, as you can also see the exact gear number on the screen.
  3. AMT is the simplest system, compared to the other form of ATs. It is supposed to last the longest and the maintenance should also be cheaper compared to the other form of ATs.
  4. AMTs will demonstrate loss of power while overtaking. The degree of this loss varies from car to car. If the AMT is tuned towards better FE (maruti cars), power loss will be greater and it will be more painful to overtake. Hence, it may be better to use the manual mode when frequent overtaking is required.
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Old 24th June 2022, 09:36   #14
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

The Brezza is also in contention now that the facelift is out. Need to wait for more details.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajk15 View Post
Not sure about your budget but will not recommend a Tata for 10+ years.
My #1 go to choice for around 12-13L on road would be an S Cross
Yes I thought about the ownership aspect too with Tata. Although when I see so many Indicas having served so long with cab operators, I wonder how much trouble can they give. Two years back we would have bought the SCross eyes closed, just that the interiors feel a bit dated now, and the uncertainty of a looming facelift adds to the FOMO factor. This is actually very uncharacteristic of me, as I have always prioritised function over form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunikkat View Post
I would suggest looking at i20 N Line IMT. It meets most of your requirements and more spacious than the compact SUVs. Would be more fun to drive too. Since you are planning to drive AMT in manual mode more often, IMT will suit you well.
This was also in consideration. Have heard that the i20 has very poor fuel efficiency and Hyundais are generally expensive to own in the long run.

Last edited by Malyaj : 24th June 2022 at 09:38.
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Old 24th June 2022, 10:12   #15
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Default Re: New car needed: Can I drive AMT in Manual mode consistently?

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Originally Posted by Malyaj View Post
This was also in consideration. Have heard that the i20 has very poor fuel efficiency and Hyundais are generally expensive to own in the long run.
i20 1.2 NA IVT has poor efficiency, the 1 Turbo if driven well will give you a decent efficiency
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