The EZ Drive automatic gearbox from Maruti is actually a simple maual transmission that has been robotised. It uses a regular manual gearbox and simple clutch, but acts like an automatic, changing gears for you with the help of a dedicated ECU and actuators. Unlike normal automatics, there is no power-sapping torque convertor, so fuel efficiency is almost the same as a manual gearbox.
The official figure is 23.1kpl, under test conditions, which is identical to that of the manual gearbox version. What helps, of course, is that the automatic uses smart software to shift gears early and keep engine revs low.
Once you are sat in the car, you use it like a normal automatic with reverse, neutral and drive. The park function you see on most automatic transmissions is missing, but there is a hold feature to prevent the car from rolling back on slopes and hills.
The gearbox offers five speeds (plus reverse) that work in both fully automatic and in sequential manual mode. In the latter, the driver can choose to pull to upshift and push to downshift. There is also a ‘creep’ mode that allows the gearbox to function at low speeds without stressing the clutch too much.
The automated manual transmission (AMT) tech's cost effectiveness, coupled with its ease of use, are the core benefits. Having introduced it in the about-to-be-launched Celerio, it would be a logical step for Maruti to then extend the AMT into the carmaker’s existing line-up of hatchbacks and saloons. The only drawback is that AMTs are jerkier than regular automatics; which is why the use of the technology isn't widespread in other developed markets today.
The transmission comes from Magneti Marelli (MM), the component arm of Italian carmaker Fiat SpA. In India, these gearbox components will be sourced from Europe and assembled at Marelli Powertrain India’s facility at Manesar.
First Published: Jan 30, 2014 11:04 IST