Convenience – it’s a trait that we humans love to harness from modern technology, so much so that even screens these days can read out this review for you. We love to simplify and uplift our methods of living and lookout for gadgetry that can bring a revolution into our lives. These were my first trail of thoughts when Hyundai broke the news of launching the iMT transmission in India with the Venue – you see this is a technology that we haven’t been acquainted with in mass-marketed vehicles but it’s here to change our lives.
An intelligent manual transmission is what Hyundai is calling its clutch-less manual transmission. In essence, this could be best termed as a hybrid of a manual and automatic transmission, where you still need to slot in gears manually however there isn’t the need of a manual clutch input. If you’re wondering, this mechanism isn’t entirely new to the automotive world and a few manufacturers have tried various implementations of the same concept. With the iMT, Hyundai has programed their transmission control unit to receive inputs from an ‘intention sensor’ that is placed with the gearstick. Basically, every time you wish to change gears, the intention sensor sends in a signal to the transmission control unit, which then further prompts the automatic actuator to engage/disengage the clutch while you slot in the desired gear.
I know, we aren’t programmed to drive cars this way and it all sounds very confusing. Contrary to what you may think, the iMT is refreshingly easy to use. Yes, the first taste of it might not be that fruitful, it takes some time getting used to operating the gearbox. For the initial first minutes, I would either forget to downshift or would unnecessarily be stomping my feet on the floor, only to realise the absence of the clutch pedal. But once you are past that initial awkwardness reminiscent of meeting someone new on Tinder, you’ll realise just how convenient the iMT is, especially in situations that you and me would usually find ourselves in.
What situations, you ask? Well, to begin, your daily commute from work that never misses the traffic no matter which route you take. Then there are those tricky situations when you negotiate an incline from standstill. The iMT not only gets a crawl function, it also gets auto-hold and even a flashing mnemonic with chimes to remind you to change gears. Sweet. Sceptical to purchase a manual vehicle because stalling it at every signal gets too embarrassing? Worry not, the iMT is here to save your ego. And unlike many auto-gearboxes that are annoyingly intrusive, this one isn’t. Infact comparing it with an automatic itself feels like committing a crime; you are in full control of the gears, you can extract all the ponies till the redline and can even engine brake if you wish.
How has the iMT impacted the fuel efficiency figures of the Venue? Well, we haven’t really put it through an extensive full-blown road test but can confirm the iMT to be more fuel-efficient than the DCT transmission (don’t come barging at us if you have a heavy right foot), and real-world driving conditions could return similar figures as compared to the manual variants, if not the same.
Yes, what you see us driving is the newest addition to the Venue’s variants – there’s a Sport trim now that can be opted for which gives you all the ‘racy’ additions – red accents on the front grille that’s finished in gloss black, some more red inserts on the cladding all around, roof rails, and even red front brake callipers. The treatment continues on the inside with red accents on the AC vents, some red piping on the upholstery and a D-cut flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching. Warranting all the additions is a SPORTS badging on the C-pillar which looks like an aftermarket addition and could have been done without. But on the whole, it’s a very striking car to look at.
What sets the Venue apart from the others is the plethora of engine-transmission options being offered. With the introduction of this iMT transmission, Hyundai has made a great package even better, and also closed in the gap that existed between the manual and the DCT variants of the compact SUV. Be rest assured, the iMT is not here to replace the feeling of the third pedal; what it does offer is that much more added convenience and ease for customers wanting a well packaged, feature-rich vehicle. Clearly then the Venue iMT doesn’t demand all your devotion while driving yet doesn’t dim the excitement one bit. Talk about selfless love.
Moreover, Hyundai has made this technology affordable, the iMT has been made available with a premium of Rs 20,000 – Rs 25,000 over its manual counterparts, and that is excellent value considering the amount of comfort that extra stack of money gets you. So, should you really consider one? We did put the Venue through its paces and came out rather impressed. We believe Hyundai has yet another winning formula in their hands!
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol DOHC
Transmission: Six-speed clutch-less manual transmission
Fuel tank: 45 litres
Boot space: 350 litres
Tyres: 215/60 R16
Prices: Rs 9.99 lakh onwards (ex-showroom)