Kia’s Intelligent Manual Transmission showcased in Europe: Why the Sonet SUV in India will have a different version

The Kia Sonet SUV will be launched in a few months in India and one of the key talking points of this SUV will be the IMT that aims to bring the same driving pleasure as a manual but minus a clutch.

By:Published: June 25, 2020 6:27 PM

The upcoming Kia Sonet compact SUV launch is near. It might have been a tad affected by the ongoing pandemic but knowing Kia’s timelines and how they stick to it, the Sonet launch is only a couple of months away. While the dimensions are similar to that of the Hyundai Venue, there are going to be many changes. Prime amongst these and the first for the Hyundai Group in India will be the Intelligent Manual Transmission or IMT as it is going to be referred to as. Kia Europe has now released key details on how the IMT will function. These include the fact that it might be paired with a 48v hybrid motor to enhance efficiency. Kia says that the main aim behind introducing this transmission will be to lower emissions, as well as give drivers the involvement of driving a manual. Here is a look at how it functions and why we get a different version in India.

The IMT was specifically designed in Europe for the brand’s mild-hybrid electric vehicles or MHEV. While a regular clutch uses a mechanical linkage system and makes for another pedal in the entire operations, the IMT brings in a “clutch by wire” unit. This is controlled electronically and with idle start-stop system, works much better. Kia reports that “the clutch pedal operates in the same manner as a conventional manual, with greater controllability due to the electromechanical control of the clutch and a ‘biting point’ that enables drivers to change gears smoothly.”

How does all this work? The Mild Hybrid Starter Generator or MHSG switches off the car’s engine when the system detects that the driver plans to coast to a stop. The MHSG works before the idle start-stop system can intervene. This in turn reduces emissions and claims to improve efficiency by three per cent. Given the rising fuel prices in India, we guess this three per cent will be substantial. Even if the driver has switched off the car’s engine, his chosen gear remains engaged. Due to the MHSG, the engine restarts immediately once the brake or accelerator is touched. In neutral, the engine restarts if the clutch pedal isn’t depressed. If the driver forgets to change to a lower gear, if a higher one is engaged, the transmission restarts the engine in neutral

In-gear, the IMT sends across an electrical signal to the transmission and this in turn switches off the engine. The car is able to make most of its momentum with this open clutch and thereby continues to coast. If the driver wants instant acceleration during these times, the MHSG starts the car.

In a recent interaction with Express Drives, Manohar Bhat who heads the sales division here said that the Sonet will have a clutchless IMT. How this will differ from AMTs has been explained. Whether or not, it will have a hybrid powertrain remains to be seen. In India though, the Kia Sonet IMT will be a two-pedal affair.  Another bit we can guarantee though is that the mileage will be a key talking point as will the fact that the IMT is claimed to be lag-free than AMTs. Perhaps a drive in the Kia Sonet or a car equipped with IMT will clear all these apprehensions. Keep watching this space as we will be driving the Kia Sonet soon. There will also be a video explaining how the IMT works.

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