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Automatic Cars under 16 lakhs

paddle shifter
paddle shifter

 

Pls Note: The list updated as of March 2012 is here : http://cars.zimbly.com/2012/03/automatic-cars-in-india-costing-less-than-16lakhs-updated-2012-march/

Indian customers have limited choice  in transmission options. Most Indian manufacturers have decided to provide manual transmissions because of our well known obsession with the mileage of vehicles.  This has resulted in a state where only a minute number of cars feature auto transmissions.

This is the list of vehicles priced under 16 lakhs on road listed in order of increasing price:

  1. Maruti Suzuki A-Star VXI AT(4 Speed)
  2. Hyundai I10 (4 speed)
  3. Hyundai I20 1.4 Gamma – PL (AT) (4 speed)
  4. Reva Maini (CVT)(Electric)
  5. Hyundai Verna 1.5 SX CRDi VGT Automatic (4 speed) – (Diesel)
  6. Maruti Suzuki SX4 ZXI AT( 4 speed)
  7. Honda City(4 speed with paddle shift)
  8. Volkswagen Vento Highline 1.6 (6 speed)
  9. Scorpio VLX AT(6 speed)  (Diesel)
  10. Toyota Corolla(4 speed auto)
  11. Honda Civic (5 speed with paddle shift)
  12. Chevrolet Cruze (6 speed)(Diesel)( at the outer border of 16L )

The number of vehicles over 16 lakhs with automatic gearboxes is significantly higher.

at-big

Common Myths regarding  Auto transmissions:

  • Low on power/pickup: Myth. The auto transmission doesn’t have as much intelligence as a human and can perform to a certain limit of options as designed. It may not have the intelligence to shift down a gear for overtaking or shift as quickly up to a higher gear for cruising as desired by drivers used to driving manual transmissions with control over the gear used. Once you get used to the way the transmission performs you will be better able to drive it optimally. You will need to learn to stamp down on the accelerator or ease off it depending on how you want to go. CVTs are better than regular automatics and within regular automatics the larger the number of speed ratios supported the better since the engine RPMs are better set with multiple ratios than a few ratios.
  • Low on mileage: Partly True. Automatics are slightly more thirsty than their manual counterparts but this is usually do to a combination of slightly higher vehicle weight and poor awareness of the way to drive an automatic. How much lower is the mileage usually depends on the vehicle and the driver but usually the difference would not be more than a difference of 2 to 3 KMPL lower at the max. The difference would come down with sedate driving and careful braking and starting.
  • Very Costly: Partly true. Automatics are currently around 40,000 or more costlier than a comparable equivalently specced manual. Our manufacturers have traditionally offered automatics only on their highest trim levels of cars. If automatic transmissions were made available on even the entry level trims with just an air conditioner am really sure the response for them would be much better. Pairing them up with diesel engines would make them even more desirable. Currently a lot of people buying automatics go in for adding on LPG/CNG kits.
  • Automatics are not fun to drive: Myth. Agreed they are not as responsive as a manual transmission but there is nothing like the comfort of driving an automatic in peak city traffic. You get to relax from constantly changing gears and concentrate on moving without hitting anything or getting hit. The few cars that come with steering column mounted paddle shifters are fun to drive without the hassle of manual shifting.

When should you get an automatic ?

  • If you are spending a lot of time in peak traffic requiring stop and go movements.
  • You drive your own vehicle
  • You are new to driving and just cannot get the hang of clutch and gear and brake and accelerator
  • You have only driven automatics till now.
  • You are ok with sedate driving and do not require the fine level of control possible with manual transmissions.
  • You refuse to let a driver drive
  • You have foot pain or a physical condition that prevents usage of a manual transmission.

When you should not get an automatic:

  • If you are concerned about vehicle cost and cost of fuel more than ease of driving.
  • You are very concerned about performance
  • You do not drive in peak traffic at all and have only empty roads where you need to go or you have a driver and just do not drive.

Auto Clutch ?
What about the much advertised auto-clutch conversion kits for manual transmissions that costs anywhere between 25k to 40k ? My only advice is first check if the dealer of the kit provides a guarantee and service in your city? Also get it done only if you have no choice as I would choose a factory fitted transmission any day over a bolt on mainly from the point of view of a factory warranty over a installer warranty.

Manufacturer Blabber:
Manufacturer Support for automatics has been very reluctant in India with the obsession with mileage.As of today Hyundai is the only manufacturer that provides an automatic option for all segments of vehicles it provides(I10,I20,Verna,Sonata) . The dealers are usually reluctant to sell you an automatic. They have been advertising the Verna Automatic which is a segment first and that too in diesel trim.

Maruti will dissuade you against buying the automatic vehicles.  They will try their best to sell an automatic Grand Vitara on the other hand which no one wants in its Manual version itself.  Strangely Suzuki which sells automatics in every other market in the world in India as part of Maruti keeps insisting that there is no market for it and hasn’t been serious with auto transmissions.

Wishlist & In Summary: I think there is definitely a market for small fuel efficient automatics, mainly diesels in all segments. Any hatchback car that has the Multijet diesel engine from Fiat is a good candidate to get an automatic box. They have adequate power and already provide great mileage so will not suffer much from having an automatic box.
Tata and Fiat need to look into automatic options soon to stay abreast of competition as the currently have ZERO vehicles with automatic transmissions.
Mahindra has the automatic on the Scorpio but need to start providing more options on the Xylo, Logan and Bolero soon.
Maruti – please wake up and add automatic versions to the Swift, Ritz and DZire diesels – please – and price them well !
Ford – the new Fiesta could do with an automatic with the new 90 BHP diesel as well.

PS: This post was actually put together around the same time as my I10 post but I delayed putting this up.Do you know what car has the steering wheel & gear lever pictured in the images in this post ? :-) . The answers are in my post itself.

Updated: March 10th,2011 and added the Maruti Suzuki, A-Star,Chevrolet Cruze,SX4 , Vento. Also removed the Wagon R AX as it is no longer sold.  Also added the below list of costlier (greater than 16L) automatic options.

Vehicles costing just over higher than 16L :

  • Hyundai Sonata CRDI AT (4 Speed) (Diesel)
  • Skoda Laura AT (6 Speed) (Diesel)
  • Ford Endeavour 3.0L 4×2 AT (5 Speed)(Diesel)
  • Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara (4 Speed)
  • Chevrolet Captiva LTZ AWD AT(5 Speed)(Diesel)
  • Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI AT (7 speed)

 

58 comments to Automatic Cars under 16 lakhs

  • Joy

    Very informative posts.
    Wonder why we don;t have automatic diesel in the small car range?
    Given the unsubsidizing of petrol, diesel is the way to go!

  • S Y NARAYANAN

    Crisp essay on the Automatics. Enjoyed reading. Keep writing. Good luck.

  • Liana

    I have driven various automatic cars for several years – from a suzuki alto (zen variant) to a Honda CRV. I cannot see myself driving a manual any day. I drive in the Uk where most cars are manual with much fewer automatics on the road. The main advantages is that at traffic lights I am always first of the mark as I dont need to change gears or anything–just accelerate and of you go.Also auto’s almost never stall, so its great for new learners as they don’t have to cause a hazard to themselves and others by stalling in the middle of the road at a junction. Then ofcourse is the ease of driving–put it in drive and drive–no need to worry about the clutch or gear at all!
    Now for the downsides if you can call it that –here on motorways where the speed is like 70mph overtaking can be a pain occasionally(at least until you get the hang of it. This is because the automatic wont up the gears at the rate that you want it to.SO with a little practice one learns to think ahead and build up the speed. But this factor is irrelevant in India where the max. speed neccessary is nowhere near 70-90mph for overtaking.
    Fuel consumption is higher than manual –there are no two ways about it. But in inner city driving there is not much of a differential as the gears get changed slowly anyway and the auto does not have to catch up. The differential is more on motor ways or long distance driving–which again can be minimized by thoughtful driving. Think ahead,utilize gradients etc.
    Hope this helps those of you who are not sure if this is what you want!

  • Sushil

    Thanks Liana for the insights on driving automatics !

  • prachi

    thanks Liana! that was very helpful :)

  • ANUJ GUPTA

    GREAT INFORMATION.

    I SEEK YOUR EXPERT OPINION ON “WHETHER MERCEDES BENZ E-230 AT PETTROL VARIANT 1998 IS VERY HIGH ON RUNNING COST AND MAINTENANCE … AND WHAT EFFECT SHALL IT HAVE IF EQUIPPED WITH A CNG KIT ?

  • ANUJ GUPTA

    what are side-effects of CNG kits ?

    Whether CNG kits are advisable in Engine above 1800 cc ?

  • Sushil

    Hi Anuj – sorry I do not have information regarding CNG kits. Will need to read up on it.

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