Hyundai Venue: iMT variant debuts a clutch-less manual gearbox

The real advantage can be felt when you are in bumper-to-bumper traffic

While the Hyundai Venue needs no introduction, this iMT variant débuts an unique new technology — a clutch-less manual gearbox. In concept, the iMT is a cross between a manual and an automatic. So, is this new gearbox the best of both worlds?

The Venue you see here comes with a new ‘Sport’ cosmetic pack that can be added to the SX, SX+ and SX(O) variants. The pack adds in darkened cosmetic elements to the exterior and an all-black interior. Red accents and highlights, both inside and out, finish the look. Other than that, the Venue remains the same SUV it always has been.

Now, the main point of this review — the all-new gearbox. Technically speaking, the iMT is not that far off from an AMT, the most basic automatic gearbox. In the AMT, the sensors and actuators operate the clutch and change gears; in the iMT they only operate the clutch with you shifting the gears.

Specifications

  • Length – 3995mm
  • Width – 1770mm
  • Height – 1605mm
  • Wheelbase – 2500mm
  • Tyre size – 215/60 R16
  • Fuel tank capacity – 45 litres
  • Engine – 998cc, 3-cyls, turbo-petrol
  • Power – 120hp at 6000rpm
  • Torque – 172Nm at 1500-4000rpm
  • Gearbox – 6-speed clutchless manual

An ‘intention sensor’ detects when you move the shifter out of a gear slot and then figures out the clutch input required, and which gear you are slotting it into next, matches the revs and pops in the clutch. Since an electronic brain is in charge of the clutch, you can never stall it.

It gently creeps forward without any throttle input once you slot it into a gear and releases the brake as if you had stepped off the clutch. It will even start in second gear if you are on a flat surface, but try starting it in third or higher, and you will be warned on the MID to shift to a lower gear. Similarly, leave it in a high gear and let the revs drop too low, you will get the same warning, but it still won’t stall, as eventually it will engage the clutch.

On the move, you row through gears just as you would in a manual, without using a clutch pedal. The process is smooth at casual speeds. You can shift gears with the throttle completely mashed to the floor, but you will be met with a drop in revs, a slight pause in acceleration as the clutch engages, and resistance from the gear lever.

Also, perform quick shifts at high revs and you will get a momentary pause and subsequent ‘head nod’ between gears as in an AMT. The system also does not allow for hard launches which is reflected in its performance, but the clutch will likely last much longer.

The real advantage can be felt when you are in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Simply leave it in first or second and lift off the brake, applying throttle when necessary.

Some AMTs can get caught out on slopes, but in an iMT, because the software, sensors and actuators only operate the clutch, it works better. On a mild gradient, you can easily step off the brake and onto the throttle without the car rolling back. This top variant is equipped with Hill Assist Control.

While it has its merits, you certainly do not get the degree of control as you would with a regular manual. Say you would want to slip the clutch and control the revs, such as if you are stuck in sand or if faced with standing water. In such situations, the iMT is like an automatic; you just have to choose the right gear and floor it.

On performance, the Venue iMT could notmatch up to the standard manual or the quick-shifting DCT. Its 0-100kph is a full 2.23sec slower than the manual and 1.57sec slower than the DCT with the same engine.

While the DCT auto costs ₹50,000-₹1,10,000 more than the manual, the iMT costs only ₹15,000 more. Yet, despite it being the more expensive technology, Hyundai offers the DCT in the lesser S trim at a lower price, while the iMT is only offered in the higher SX trim onwards, starting at ₹9.99 lakh.

For some, the iMT will be the best of both worlds; for others, it might be a case of ‘neither here nor there’.

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