I have often wondered as to why we haven’t come up with more of the automatic cars in India stuff. The reason why this thought crossed my mind was because I was stuck in a traffic jam near Thane for a good 48 minutes. Explaining him about the traffic didn’t yield any good responses. Most of all, my hand was paining so much due to the constant gear shifting that I had to do. The very fact that I wasn’t even walking properly was due to the constant use of the left foot and due to which I had developed cramps. Hmm. So if I had an automatic, these things wouldn’t have caused a problem for me. But then automatic cars are looked down upon in India. Most of them think, it is for the sissies and I definitely didn’t want to be one. But then moving forward, they actually seem to be a nice option. I will go for comfort over style anytime. For the one not in the loop of things, most of the ultra luxury cars are automatics. If I am pondering as to which automatic to accommodate in my measly budget of under Rs 12 lakhs, I have got limited options in India. But then piling up that list made me realize to the fact that I can actually write an article on the same and enlighten our readers about it.
The hatchback cars that I have for my indulgence are limited to only three namely the Hyundai I10, Maruti A-star and the Hyundai I20. Spoilt for choices, am I? I don’t think so. The Maruti A-star automatic is a car which I have already reviewed and here is the link for the same http://www.indiandrives.com/maruti-suzuki-a-star-automatic-review.html . I would be just talking about the driving characteristics here. The auto version of the A-star gets a 4 speed automatic transmission. In traffic laden driving conditions, it is a boon as the gear ratios are closely packed as opposed to the manual one. Its light steering and the compact dimensions make moving in city a breeze. The Hyundai I10 automatic on the other hand has taller gear ratios and this hampers its smoothness in operation in city speeds. The Hyundai I10 with its revised motor feels a bit laggard as far as initial thrust in speed is concerned. But once the motor spools up, acceleration is brisk. The Hyundai I20 automatic, like the Hyundai I10 automatic uses a 4 speed gearbox. Much like its smaller cousin, initial acceleration is left for wanting but once on the move, the more powerful 1.4 liter motor shows what it is made of. But personally I felt the overall package in the Hyundai I20 automatic to be a lethargic one. The role reversal happens when the cars are made to go through the highway route. The Hyundai twins seem more at home here whereas the A-star with its shorter ratios huffs and puffs. Cruising is best done in the Hyundai I20 automatic version but then like a Honda engine, the I20’s engine begs to be thrashed to extract any serious performance from it. I would say, the Maruti A-star would win in the city round as it is fuel efficient as well as responsive at low speeds. But if it is the mix of city highway traffic that you are going to do, it would be the Hyundai I10 automatic for you. My money lies on the Hyundai I10 automatic. Price wise, it would set you back by Rs 5.53 lakhs on road, Mumbai.
The Midsize saloon category gets 4 names and those are the Maruti SX4 automatic, Hyundai Verna automatic, Volkswagen Vento automatic and the Honda City automatic. Of these two, I have already compared the last two. Here is the link for the same http://www.indiandrives.com/honda-city-automatic-versus-volkswagen-vento-automatic.html . If I were looking for a car in this segment, I would want it to have space and pace. Pace should be good both in city and highway. Like its smaller sibling, the Maruti SX4 automatic also uses a 4 speed gearbox. Like the A-star, this car is also very responsive in the city but the power delivery is not that seamless. On the contrary, at half throttle, the car would lung forward but try burying the throttle and the car would just hide behind the automatic veil. If you want a diesel and also an automatic, then look no further than the Hyundai Verna automatic. It has got a 4 speed gearbox which is on the taller side. But then being a diesel, it has got oodles of torque from the word go. More importantly, even the turbo lag is eliminated by this gearbox. So it is all linear acceleration for this car all the way. But when the time comes to downshift while overtaking, the gearbox is a bit slow. Some amount of planning is required to execute these maneuvers. So in all keeping in mind the responsiveness factor and fuel efficiency in petrol motors, the Honda City automatic wins it. But like I discussed earlier, if it is diesel efficiency that one is looking for, then look no further than the Hyundai Verna automatic. It is cheaper from the Honda automatic wonder by a good Rs 88000.
This brings me to the last category in my budget and it is the SUV category. Do you have any SUV in mind when I say that I have a Rs 12 lakhs budget? Think think….. yes, there is only one and it is the Mahindra Scorpio automatic. I should say that this is the most balanced of all the auto gearboxes here and slightly better than even the Honda’s 5 speed unit. The first three ratios are more helpful in city speeds whereas on the highway, the rest of the three come in picture. The gearbox, though no dual clutch one is utter responsive. It has even got a manual M mode. The bombarding acceleration of the manual Scorpio would be found wanting here but the brisk progress that this SUV makes, more than compensates for it. In order to maximize fuel efficiency, the gearbox climbs up the next gear once the rpm counter has passed a certain rpm. Downshifts are not so eager but they are better than the others so far discussed. There are no paddle shifts but the M mode helps one in holding onto the gear. One small problem that I found out is that the ‘box is hunting for gears between speeds of 30-40 kmph. This can be easily fixed by some minor alterations in the gearbox software. The on-road price of the Scorpio VLX AT is Rs 12 lakhs. The Honda Civic wasn’t considered as its base price is above Rs 12 lakhs.
So these are some of the best automatics below the Rs 12 lakh mark. Above these mark, you would find a host of automatic options, mainly German ones. Maybe, I would cover that some other time.