Automatic cars are no longer a luxury, but almost a necessity, blame traffic and the fact that we are spending more time in our cars. Thus, sales of automatics are indeed picking up and the logical question that follows —if you are in the market for one — is which is the one to buy?
We have taken two popular types of automatics below Rs 15 lakh as the basis for this report. We have excluded AMT or the torque converters because we prefer a DCT or a CVT over them anyways plus AMT is not exactly an automatic in its true sense and the torque converter gearbox is fuel sapping.
Here we compare the Hyundai Venue 1.0 turbo petrol, which has a 7-speed dual clutch, and the Toyota Yaris CVT petrol, which is an underrated car in our opinion.
Both cost about the same (Rs 11-12 lakh) and both claim to have a proper automatic driving experience. Let us start with the CVT automatic. CVT automatic is the more popular in budget cars and in a few midsize/luxury cars for the reason being that it is more efficient and reliable.
A CVT automatic does not have a clutch or any fixed gears. The gearing is infinite and based on engine revs and speed. Thus, the CVT gearbox adjusts itself quickly according to engine speeds and helps it maintain a good fuel efficiency. In the city, the CVT-equipped Yaris is smooth and fuss free with ease of use kept very much in mind.
In terms of mileage we got 10- 11 kmpl. However, while the CVT is fairly efficient and easy to use the biggest downside to the CVT is the 'rubber band effect'. Here, the revs shoot up but the speeds does not increase. However, to stop this, the Yaris has pre-programmed gears and a paddle shifter. So, if you want performance, the paddle shifters let you use the engine better while rest of the time in 'D' mode you can use the positives of the CVT.
For any driving enthusiast, we discovered, the DCT in the Hyundai is just plain better. The DCT is a dual clutch gearbox developed by Hyundai and is a 7-speed one. Unlike a CVT there are clutches- two in fact and both are there for odd and even gears.
In the city at low speeds both are smooth. We did not see anything noticeably different with both the Yaris CVT and the Venue DCT here. Both are superb at crawling in traffic. There are no jerks. However the change is when you drive quickly or want a sudden overtake.
Here when driven hard, the CVT groans and gets noisy due to the aforementioned effect of revs shooting up. In the DCT Venue, however it does not happen and it is quicker in terms of response. Despite not having paddle shifters like the Yaris the Venue is more fun and gives a satisfactory gearbox response.
What about mileage? Well we got around 10 in the city which means the CVT is slightly more efficient than the DCT but the difference is not that much.
So in the end which makes more sense? Both types of gearboxes have different priorities but here is our take. The CVT is designed to be efficient and easy to drive. It is cheaper and a more cost effective AT however it does not offer a polished driving experience. It however does the job.
The DCT is more expensive and complex thus it is only found on a few cars below Rs 15 lakh like the Venue. It is costly but there is a reason many expensive cars use this. It delivers a richer experience. The gearbox is more responsive and more fun yet still smooth. Thus DCT is the best type of automatic that you can buy while CVT is not a bad alternative.