Maruti Suzuki has cracked the affordable automatic transmission problem with its upcoming Celerio hatchback.

The Celerio offers a simple but elegant solution: It has a manual gearbox with a hydraulic actuator installed on top. Supported by an electronic control unit (ECU), a transmission control unit (TCU) directs the hydraulic actuator to engage the clutch and shift the gear based on the acceleration and at the optimum engine rpm (revolutions per minute) level.

So, unlike the conventional torque converter automatic or CVT (continuously variable transmission) auto gearboxes, the Celerio’s auto shifter is just a manual gearbox and an attachment with a brain sitting on top of it.

Driving the Celerio is like driving a conventional automatic. There is no clutch pedal and the gear knob is just as it is in a regular automatic, except for the mild shift feel when the gears change. To prove its reliability, Maruti has developed a long-life transmission fluid, which will stay sealed for 10 years or 160,000 km. On fuel-efficiency — a general grouse with automatics — the Maruti officials have confirmed that the ARAI-rated mileage is the same 23.1 kmpl for both the manual and the automatic variants.

(This article was published on January 24, 2014)
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