Posted on 6 Comments

Automatic Transmissions (Conventional vs AMT vs CVT vs DSG)

Car Service, Repairs, and Used Car Evaluation

Our cities face an ever increasing car population, but only have so much road to offer! The result is stop and go traffic for long periods of time, and with it, hundreds of clutch presses and gear changes. Given that this is the case with all Indian cities and towns, cars with Automatic Transmissions (AT) are becoming increasingly popular. With only an Accelerator and Brake to manage, AT’s take the hassle out of shifting gears, and make long waits in traffic a little less exhausting.

Automatic Transmissions have had an interesting evolution in India. Unknown to many, AT’s have been available in India since the 1980’s, when they were made to order on Maruti 800’s for physically challenged drivers!  Fast forward to the present, and customers have a huge variety of AT equipped car models to choose from.

However, as car buyers check out these models, they also realize that unlike Manual Transmission (MT), AT technology varies from car to car, making the choice – well, confusing! As with all articles on Wheels Wisdom, we wrote this one too with one clear objective – simplify complexity for our readers.

There are primarily four types of automatic transmissions currently on offer from major Indian manufacturers. Here’s an infographic we put together to make it really easy to understand. Take a look:

Automatic Transmissions


As a buyer, you must understand that the AMT and DSG are the closest to Manual Transmissions, in so far as the directness of connection between the engine and the drive is concerned. In simple terms, you can think of the coupling as being direct, with very little loss in transmission of power. CVT’s employ a belt to transmit power,  but take advantage of infinite gear ratios, which result in high fuel efficiency. Infinite gear ratios are made possible by the use of a drum like component that has a varying diameter, as you look at it from side to side. Conventional Automatics don’t have a direct coupling between the engine and the drive at all – neither direct, nor driven by a belt. Instead, they have a fluid clutch. Again, in simple terms this means some engine power is lost in transmission, resulting in lower fuel efficiency.

Conventional Automatics are more reliable in the log run. They have been proven workhorses for decades, and are cheaper to make. The dampener in the case of conventional AT’s though, is the Fuel Economy. DSG’s on the other hand are technologically advanced automatics and are fun to drive, but still don’t offer bullet proof reliability. They are also more expensive to manufacture. CVT’s and AMT’s are not very exciting to drive, but are highly efficient and reasonably reliable as well.

That’s it! We’ve kept unnecessary detail and clutter out, so that you’re clear about what various Automatic Transmission technologies bring to you – the end customer.

Liked the article? Like or follow our social pages on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to get your regular feed of Wheels Wisdom articles.

6 thoughts on “Automatic Transmissions (Conventional vs AMT vs CVT vs DSG)

  1. On popular demand, we have now enabled comments on our blog. Now enjoy our articles and let other readers benefit from your thoughts!

  2. Very nicely written. I haven’t seen this explained simpler than this anywhere else. Who’s the author?

  3. Hi,

    I use Laura DSG automatic car, I have couple of queries. Is the transmission oil for life time, does it not require a change or top up? Some times the upshift from 3 to 4 & 4 to 5 takes longer time, does it mean that transmission needs attention & I am also getting less efficiency about 600 Kms(in city) for full tank(Diesel). car is done about 129000KMs.

  4. Dear Imran,

    The Laura DSG transmission requires an oil change at 60,000 kms. The gearbox consumes about 7 liters of oil, which should cost you between Rs.11000 to 12000. You must ensure the replacement oil used is synthetic. We recommend you get this done only at the Authorized Service Center. That way you can remain assured that genuine oil is used for replacement. Looking at the odometer reading you mentioned, this replacement was long overdue. You should notice improvement in shift timings as well as fuel economy after the oil change.

  5. How do you rate TATA Hexa automatic. Is it reliable and powerful ,I think its torque convertor

  6. Hello Biju,

    The TATA Hexa as a whole is a huge leap ahead for Tata Motors in terms of overall build quality, and in particular, the interiors. If the first set of cars do not experience quality issues, we expect this product to do well. With respect to your question specifically about the automatic, the Hexa gets a 6-speed AT, which is smooth & does the job really well. It also seems to be rightly designed to work perfectly with the 2.2L diesel engine. This auto box is not designed in house by Tata, but sourced from a company based out of France. The same transmission is already in use in various other models across the world. Yes, the Hexa gets the classic torque converter gearbox, and is smooth-shifting. If you like the Hexa overall, the AT is the variant to go for!

Comments are closed.