All About Hyundai iMT or Intelligent Manual Transmission
Hyundai iMT or ‘Intelligent Manual Transmission’ is a type of manual gearbox that operates without any clutch Pedal.
Hyundai India recently launched the Venue Sport variant with a Turbo Petrol Engine which is matted to two different transmission options- a Dual Clutch Automatic and an ‘iMT’ or Intelligent manual Transmission and this particular gearbox is gaining lots of attention lately. The Kia Sonet which is Sibling to the Venue will also get an iMT. I will be sharing information about this new Clutchless Manual transmission and how different it is from any other automatic.
What Is an iMT?
In simple terms, it is a ‘Clutchless Manual’ transmission, and yes that’s what iMT refers. It is basically a regular manual transmission that can work with the need to operate the clutch pedal.
This seems to be quite confusing because an AMT gearbox operates in the same way but iMT works in a different way.
How Hyundai iMT is different from AMT?
An AMT or Automated Manual Transmission as the name suggests is also a manual transmission but here software controls actuators that operate both clutch and gear shift without you to do anything, this basically turns AMT into a fully automatic gearbox.
On the other hand in an iMT or Intelligent Manual Transmission software and actuator operates only the clutch and the gear shift had to be done manually. So in a way iMT actually sits between a regular gearbox and an AMT.
Benefits from iMT
With the use of iMT you can have full control on gear changes and don’t need to rely on softwares to make it happen for you. As a result of this in terms of going up a hill or down a slope and overtaking you have full control on gear changes and the system does not guess it for you, all this happens without the need to operate the clutch pedal.
Other advantage of iMT is, due to use of less parts than an AMT it is lighter and the cost is lower than other automatic.
How iMT is different from AMT in manual mode?
Its true that AMT works in a similar way like an iMT in manual mode but there are few differences. The iMT uses the same shift pattern like a regular manual gearbox as a result it helps to keep track of the gear you’re in; the software will never change gears by itself thus you’re always in control. On the other hand in an AMT or other automatic, in manual mode its possible that you can lose the track of the gear you’re in shifting via the plus-minus lever or the paddles, especially when the gearbox makes second guesses and makes shifts by itself.
Operating an iMT
Well knowing all about iMT the main thing that comes to play is how to operate it. Do we need to lift our foot from the gas pedal while shifting through gears?
You don’t actually need to lift your foot from the accelerator pedal like a manual transmission while shifting gears in iMT but doing that can make the shifts smooth enough.
The shifts are just like any other manual gear without the use of a clutch pedal, but if you’re used to a manual transmission you might need to practice to keep your left foot still while going through the gear shifts.
Is iMT a new technology?
iMT gearbox is not a new technology. Clutchless manuals have been in use globally for quite some time now. Brands like Ferrari had used one in the late 80’s, where they wanted to give the ultimate driving experience with shifting through the gears like a manual without the use of the clutch. This was before dual-clutch transmission became more common on exotic cars.
While in India, Hero Honda launched a moped with a transmission system like this. Also aftermarkets kits with similar system are already available for cars from quite some time.
Also, the more recently launched Kia Sonet which shares most of its underpinnings with Venue will use the same system, but the Hyundai Venue is the first car to officially use iMT in India.
Does Hyundai iMT come with auto feature?
The iMT we get in the Venue is totally a manual unit. But there are gearboxes where you can find an Auto mode. This gives to option of shifting gears manually and can have full control over the gearbox or you can let the system do it for you. All this can be done with touch of a button near the gear lever or dashboard.
Drawbacks of an iMT
Just like an AMT due to use of a single clutch plate the shifts are not that smooth. But its much better than other automatic gearboxes as provide better fuel economy and full control on the gear changes. At this point, the dual-clutch transmission shines as a better option, as it is similar to manual gearboxes but uses two clutches for faster and smoother gear shifts.
Is Dual-Clutch a better transmission
As mentioned above a dual-clutch auto transmission is superior to any other auto transmission and the for that reason is its working principle is similar to a regular manual. But as the name suggests it has two clutches and input shafts- one works for all the odd gears and the other for even gears, thus when any gear is engaged and one clutch is transmitting power to the wheels, the other clutch is already ready to engage the next pre-selected gear. In simple terms when one clutch disengages the other engages making the shifts quick and smooth. This gear was already used in the discontinued Volkswagen POLO GT TSI.
Hyundai iMT and other types of Automatic Gearboxes
Most commonly used automatic transmission is usually called torque converters. While CVT are totally different in terms of its operation and built.
Manual gearboxes include iMT, AMT and DCT, and use helical gears on input and output shafts with a mechanical clutch controlled by actuators but traditional automatic gearbox uses a different approach to transmit the power and called a planetary gear system and the clutch is a fluid coupling system or more commonly a torque convertor.
But CVT (Continous Variable Transmission) is totally a different type of gear system. The basic principle is that it uses two cones and both are connected by a belt. To transmit the power a centrifugal clutch is used more commonly but sometimes even fluid coupling is used as per the requirements. When the belt is moved across the varying diameter of the cones, different ‘gear ratios’ are achieved. This goes via a clutch to a set of planetary gears that rotates the wheels.
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An Electronics Engineering graduate and with a passion for Automobiles a full-time Automotive Blogger.