Maruti to launch automatic transmission car 'Celerio' at Auto Expo

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Feb 2 2014, 07:11am hrs
Maruti CelerioA traditional automatic transmission version of a car in the market is more expensive by up to Rs 1 lakh than its manual version. Express
The Maruti Celerio will introduce to the Indian market the two-pedal (accelerator and brake) Auto Gear Shift technology, which the company has christened as EZ Drive, pronounced as easy drive. Auto gear shift it is, but is it an automatic transmission Not exactly.

The EZ Drive is essentially a simple manual transmission that has been robotised. It uses a regular manual gearbox and a clutch (there is no clutch pedal though), but acts like an automatic, changing gears for the driver with the help of a dedicated ECU and actuators (call it a robotic arm). Unlike traditional automatic transmission, there is no torque convertor.

How does it look: The gear-lever unit, placed between the two front seats, looks exactly like a traditional automatic transmission unit. Towards the right, there are three slotsN for neutral, D for drive and R for reverse. Towards the left, there is one slot marked M for manual. In the manual mode, there are options of + to upshift and - to downshift gears.

How does it drive: Before starting the engine, ensure the gear lever is in the N mode and the brake pedal is pressed. Once the engine starts, put the gear lever in the D mode and release the brake. The car will start moving, but slowlythis is called the Creep function, which is effective in urban stop-and-go traffic. Gradually, step on the accelerator and the car will pick up speed. Based on how much you press the accelerator, the car will move to a higher gear, the highest being fifth in Celerios case.

Similar to the traditional automatic transmission unit, the EZ Drive offers the M modeput the gear lever in the M position and then shift gears by pushing the lever to either the + or - modes.

How does it stop: Pressing the brake reduces the speed of the car and the gears shift down automatically until the car comes to a complete stop. Then you have to shift the lever to the N mode, switch off the engine and engage the parking brake. But unlike most traditional automatics, the EZ Drive does not have a P slotwhich indicates parkingthus engaging the parking brake is important.

How fuel-efficient it is: Optimum performance and fuel economy can be obtained by lightly pressing and releasing the accelerator pedal. Maruti claims the Celerio will return a fuel efficiency of 23.1 kmpl.

How much will it cost: A traditional automatic transmission version of a car in the market is more expensive by up to Rs 1 lakh than its manual version, but expect Maruti to bring it to half with the introduction of the EZ Drive. If the Celerio manual is priced at, say, Rs 4.5 lakh, the Celerio EZ Drive should cost roughly Rs 5 lakh.