Nowadays, we are spoilt for choices when buying a new car. The search for a car usually begins with you seeing a new car advertisement and realising its something you might wanna get. Then the search for other more interesting alternatives begin. But, every car has a permutation and combination of features and sometimes it gets a bit frustrating to understand what’s what and what’s not. It is even said that the Nasa’s Apollo 1 had lesser features as compared to the modern car. Take, for example, deciding on the choice of the car transmission available.

AMT vs DCT vs CVT
An automatic car transmission

Well, worry not! I’ll try to help you out in your journey of buying a new car by explaining which automatic transmission is best suitable for you. But first!

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How does an automatic car transmission work?

Before we delve into the types of automatic transmission we need to know how does an automatic transmission work, to get a better understanding of the different types. The very basic knowledge that everyone has that an automatic transmission changes gear automatically and doesn’t need a gear stick or clutch operation by the driver.

Allow me to explain an automatic gearbox in brief. The engine connects to a Torque Converter which is then connected to a gear system and then to the transmission. The gear system is called a Planetary Gear system which consists of a gear in the middle called Sun Gear and three gears around it called planetary gears which are covered by a ring gear (thus the name). These parts in combination make an automatic transmission.

What is a Torque Converter?

DCT vs CVT vs AMT
An Automatic Transmission Torque Converter

A Torque Converters is a vital component of an automatic transmission. It working is a bit complicated but I’ll word it as easy I can.

Inside the Torque Convertor, there are parts that work in tandem with each other.

DCT vs CVT vs AMT
A Torque Converter Mechanism

The outermost side of a Torque Converter has the flywheel which is connected to the engine. This flywheel rotates the entire structure. The rotation makes the pump push out fluid at high speed. This fluid makes the turbine rotate. The fluid keeps on rotating in a counterclockwise direction separated in two sections and is kept rotating with the help of a stator in the middle. The turbine is connected to the shaft which connects to the rest of the system.

The pump and turbine have grates in them, holes if you may and these holes help with the movement. In the pump, the fluid goes in one of the holes and is then ejected at the speed at which the engine is rotating, and for the case of the turbine, the fluid goes into the hole and pushes the turbine at a speed which the fluid was ejected in. The turbine rotates in the opposite direction thus absorbing the torque that the liquid carries. After the fluid is left with almost no energy of its own it goes to stator which pushes it towards the pump. The energy is then transferred to the gear system.

Looks simple! Right? Well, fellas, I got something better for you. Working of the planetary gear system.

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How does the Planetary Gear system work?

Personally I believe this to be one of the best inventions in the automobile area as it made automatic transmission possible. So how does it work?

DCT vs CVT vs AMT
Planetary Gear System

As I said earlier it is called planetary because it’s the same as what happens in the universe. A star is followed around by the planets and rotate around it at respective speeds. In planetary gear system, it has a sun gear, three planet gears one ring gear which covers them and is connected to the three planet gears and one carrier which takes the output.

There are some cases as to how the gear system works. Basic understanding of gear is helpful here but I’ll cover it anyway. Where two gears are connected they need to have the same speed as having uneven speed will destroy the gear system as the teeth will cross over. Now if two gears need to have same contact velocity that means if the size is uneven the smaller one will move faster. This is a major point in the working of the gear system.

The planetary gears are smaller than the sun gear. The speed at which sun gear rotates will be slower than what the planet gear rotates, in turn, making the ring gear rotate faster than the sun gear. This allows for multiple velocities with only one possible input this is one of the possible cases.

The second possible case is when the ring gear stays stationary and the sun gear moves. This will force the planet gear to both move and turn, as the ring gear can’t be moved.

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There are few more cases but these two should be enough to help you get an understanding of how the system works. We still need to talk about the comparison of the subtypes of Automatic Transmission.

What are the different types of an automatic car transmission?

Now there are two types of transmission systems. Manual and Automatic. And there are types of Automatic transmission which I’ll be explaining in depth.

There are three types of automatic car transmission:

  1. Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)
  2. Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
  3. Automatic Manual Transmission (AMT).

DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission)

DCT or dual-clutch transmission is a really interesting piece of hardware. It is a bit on the heavier side as it has a lot of moving parts and gears. I’ll explain how it works below:

DCT vs CVT vs AMT
A DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission)

Take the case of 6 gears DCT. It has two clutches that control even and odd gear ratio with the first one getting an odd set of gear. It also has two transmission shafts that control those gear ratios which are already divided the odd one being inside the even and longer. It also has a part named dog clutches which are close to the gear and engage when the gear ratio respective of them needs to be used.

When the car starts and the engine is fired up, and the mode is shifted to drive mode, ECU engages gear one. This means the First clutch will act and the dog clutch on the first gear will engage. Now the interesting part is that the dog clutch the next second gear is also engaged however it won’t rotate its own shaft because the clutch for it the second gear is not engaged ( there are two clutches, the main and the dog). This process keeps on-going and this is how the dual-clutch transmission works

The advantages are the driver comfort and efficiency. The gear switch is so smooth that you will not feel a jerk while changing gears. And as there are no breaks in transmission it has better efficiency. People that prefer manual due to fuel efficiency can pick this up and be carefree. DCT is also the fastest and is used on high-end cars and racing cars.

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Which automatic transmission out of the three do you personally prefer?

CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)

AMT vs DCT vs CVT
A CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)

CVT is soulless. Not my words but most motorheads consider it bad. Why? Because it doesn’t give any output. What do you mean by output? Ever rev a car and feel the speed increasing, that moment when you shift the gear when the RPM is just right and the sound it makes. If you like those things and haven’t driven a CVT, you’ll hate it too.

CVT has a pulley system. This pulley system makes it have an infinite gear ratio which allows it to have the best efficiency in the automatic transmission systems better than DCT. Depending on the speed of the crankshaft the pulley length changes changing the gear at the same time. Even an mm shift in the pulley means there is a new gear ratio in play basically giving it an infinite ratio.

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AMT (Automated Manual Transmission)

AMT vs CVT vs DCT
An AMT (Automated Manual Transmission)

AMT is the most successful automatic transmission system in India. Maruti Suzuki sold over 6 lakh cars that were equipped with AMT. Does it mean its the best of all three? Actually not, it is one of the weaker systems and the only advantage it has over others is that it is cheaper. So what does it have over others that make it cheaper?

Pressing a clutch disengages the engine from transmission allowing for a gear change and this process happens every time you change speed. The clutch disengaging happens automatically using hydraulic actuators. Different gear ratios are changed accordingly 

 

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Which is the best automatic car transmission?

Go for DCT. It is costlier and higher-end cars have it but it’s well worth it if you crave speed and smooth rides with a bit of fuel efficiency sprinkled in. it could almost be considered a jack of all trades but being a bit on the costlier side it is not. Is it worth the cost? Absolutely!

What should you choose

If you wanna go for efficiency choose CVT as its more efficient. With almost no delay in gear shift and less moving parts with almost no downtime, it has better efficiency than the other two systems and is a good choice some people might not like it as they require the car giving an output while they are driving to fully enjoy the experience. But if you use cars to get from point A to point B consider CVT.

If you want the feel of gears changing and getting an output from the car and quick acceleration DCT is better than the rest. It has decent efficiency on its own but compared to CVT it lacks behind.

AMT is a good choice and is easily available as more of the entry-level cars have it and is cheaper compared to DCT and CVT. Not as smooth as CVT and as fast as DCT it still has its uses.

Every transmission has its own advantages and disadvantages. I hope I was able to help you understand how all of these works so you can make a better and informed decision.

Did the article change your mind about which transmission you prefer?

77 COMMENTS

  1. I am using Celario X AGS having a sudden jump while slow speed especially little slop or Hight places. Otherwise AGS is so good for city drive with low cost.

  2. It is based on your spectacular explanation and I feel it as apt as I am planning to buy a Maruti XL 6 automatic. As per maruti they use AT in this version. In line with your description AT is somewhat similar to DCT. Maruti informs that AT includes a torque converter, Wet clutch system and a planetary gear system. Is the AT concept of Maruti is better than their CVT concept for driving comfirt.

  3. Bro you have just puzzled up the things a bit more… You should have said a one liner that… Out of three… This one is the best period…. But no… You didnt

    • Hi Kannan,
      The DCTs and small engines don’t usually go hand in hand. But with that said, you might know that a slight change in driving style (especially shift lock in traffic jams) will bring the temperatures down. Rest nothing can be done to it.

  4. Thank you for the article which has cleared many doubts.
    Please let me know your thoughts on below queries

    I want to know vw polo GT uses DGT, Is this transmission is same as DCT or any difference?

    I want to buy a compact SUV with automatic transmission which should be identical to polo GT where I saw in my friends car. So can you suggest a better one from india.

    And your advice on below cars
    Sonet Nexon Brezza

    You can mail me the reply via mail

    • Hey Raja,
      Thank you for writing to us. We are glad that we could help.
      Regarding your query, DSG is a type of DCT gearbox (Dual-Clutch Transmission) developed by Volkswagen.

      For your second query, we would suggest you to go for the Kia Sonet, which is offered with 3 engine options and a 7-speed DCT automatic gearbox. The Sonet is a wonderful compact SUV and a complete package.

  5. Thank you very much, Dear Kartik Rangam for a lucid and wonderful explanation of an engineering stuff in a layman’s language. Great.

  6. Why have you not mentioned TC or torque converter?
    It is more reliable and cheaper to maintain than DCT.
    It is faster than CVT with almost no delay.
    It is smoother than AMT with no jerks.
    Only disadvantage is comparatively less fuel efficiency; even DCT shares this fault.
    Hence still TC is the best type of gear box which gives overall balance.

    • Hi Jai,
      IVT is a subset of the CVT family and is totally worth going for the Hyundai Creta 1.5-litre IVT. Although, you can also opt for Renault Duster RXZ 1.3 Turbo X-Tronic variant which will cost you around ₹14.5lakh on-road, which is the ex-showroom price of Creta SX variant. The Duster comes loaded with an ample amount of features and comfort. Stay pinned!

  7. Please I need help.. Am fed up with my skoda fabia 1.4vl 2008 model.. It’s killing me already after spending allot to mechanics yet no solution..
    The engine goes of instantly when I start it.. Anytime the plug for injector is in it… Some times does not start at all.. But ones I removed d plug connected to the injector it will start once and work well. But once I put d plug back to d injector it won’t again.. Please help me.. 07061609102

  8. The Torque Converter transmission (I think it was called a Hydramatic by GM when first introduced) is not listed in the choice of transmissions. All we hear of are also AMT and DCT, which also appears to be a version of an AMT. Is the Torque Converter in use in cars such as Toyota in India?

    • Hi Arun,
      Yes, indeed DCT’s maintenance is a bit more than others. As this involves two clutches that increase the chance of slipping, especially in stop and go traffic. A DCT might also have a negative impact when driving in hilly areas.

  9. Very detailed article. Recently I am planning to buy a car and getting confused between Honda CVT vs Hyundai IVT. As per Hyundai salesman, IVT uses chain drive vs Honda’s belt drive. Are there any pros and cons related to maintenance or driveability between three two.

    • Hi Anmol,
      Both of the CVT transmission has the same working principle. Honda being belt-driven, has a slight lag before it takes the power to the wheels whereas the Verna being chain-driven feels more connected and the lag is minimal. Now the thing is, the lag in either of the two is something you’ll not feel in day to day driving and only if you drive both the cars back to back, you’ll be able to notice the difference. That said, maintenance is nearly identical too. Hope it helped. Stay Pinned and Happy Motoring! 🙂

    • Hi Parek,
      There are not many cars in the price range. But still, considering your budget, you can opt for a Hyundai Santro, Maruti Suzuki Ignis, or Renault Kwid. All of the above-mentioned vehicles come with an optional AMT gearbox. We’d recommend you to go and test the cars before buying. Stay Pinned!

  10. Hi Akshat,

    i have bought a used honda jazz CVT 2017. it has a lag and mileage of 8 in city bumper traffic mumbai and around 12 -13 on highways .. is that normal ? or i need to check how i’m driving?

  11. Hi, is Hyundai new Santro amt is better than ignis or wagan R ? why new santro not becom so populer ??? is there is any mechinical or tech issue for it ??

    • Hi Parek,
      The new Hyundai Santro is a good car that has some really unique features. It’s hard to say why it didn’t make any mark in the market. Also, there are no problems with the vehicle. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  12. Sir I am much confused between the two Sonet 7 DCT and IMT petrol version models costing Rs.14.88 and 13.88 lacs while I have Santro and my monthly travelling is 400/500 Kms and more over very little chance to go to hilly areas.pls guide.

    • Hi Ramesh,
      Well, both the transmission options, be it the DCT or the iMT are good in their own way. If the vehicle will be running majorly in the city and all you want is a hassle-free vehicle, DCT is the way to go. Additionally, if you like to drive a car and want to relieve your left foot from the hassle iMT is the best option. Hope it helped. Stay Pinned!

  13. I am planning to buy a car please help me choosing the right one. I have Ford Ecosport MT 2018 model, Because of my health condition i am not able to drive that car. I have developed a foot drop issue(Weakness in Left leg) in my left leg bcoz of which Doc suggested me not to drive MT. So i am looking for automatic car. My usage is less, May be 1000KM in 3 months. Can you please suggest some AMT or CVT or DCT car which i can drive and use for 10 years. Can be Mini SUV or Hatch or Premium Hatch, But please suggest some car which is safe and i can use for my health condition. Please please do the needful.

    • Hi Aadhitha,
      We’ll be happy to help you out but before to recommend you a vehicle we’d like to know your budget. How much are you willing to spend on the car?

      • Hello Sir…10 to 12L on road in Bangalore…May be can extent 50K more… This will be 2nd car and dont want to do mistake in a hurry to select car and not staying with me…Expecting to maintain for 10 years… Please do help me sir…

      • Sir also if any new car launch or else facelift is coming for which i should wait as that can be better option for me…Please consider that also and suggest sir… It will be of great help if you help me in purchasing the car…

          • Car type can be either Mini SUV or Hatch or Premium Hatch. Budget 10 to 12L on road in Bangalore…May be can extent 50K more… Usage 1K KM for 3 months both Highway and City mixed…Looking only for AMT or DCT or CVT but should be Automatic for my health condition…

          • Hi Aadhithya,
            Here are our picks,

            1. Hyundai Venue DCT- which happens to be fun to drive the vehicle as well as is fast.
            2. Maruti Suzuki S-cross- This is the car to choose if you don’t want any hassle and wants a tried and tested product. Mind it, this is not fun to drive vehicle.

            Also, don’t forget to take a test drive before buying. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  14. I think i will go for S Cross because i am not looking for Speed also from the above Video i feel Automatic is best when compared to all other transmission.. One last question, If you are suggesting S cross then i think i can also consider Brezza right?. Both are same engine and technology.

    • Hi,
      Yes, both have similar engine and drivetrain but it is the S Cross that looks and feels a little premium. Even the material quality used in the NEXA derived S Cross is a notch above. But if you are ready to compromise those, then yes Brezza can also be a good buy. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  15. Yes brother. Very important item neglected here. The fact the DCT’s do eventually wear like a manual tranny clutch wears out. Expensive to replace.

  16. Hi, I am planning to buy a car around 12-20L MiniSUV or SUV with automatic transmission (Only Petrol). I am also looking for good performance and fuel efficieny. Please suggest which car to buy under this segement.

    I have checked,

    1) Ford Ecosport
    2) Hyundai Creta and Venue
    3) MG Hector
    4) KIA Seltos and Sonet
    5) Yet to see/review tata cars ( NEXON, HARRIER)

    I am looking for car with around 1200CC or above.

    Thank you for you help in advance.

    • Hi Rohit,
      To begin with, good performance and fuel efficiency are not really the best of friends. So, one has to compromise on one aspect. Still, if it is the performance you are after Hyundai Creta Turbo can really be a wise choice. Mind it, being a powerful motor it returns a decent mileage of 17kmpl (ARAI) to be precise. On the other hand, Harrier is only available in diesel so that checks out. Talking about MG Hector, it does look mean and got an update recently, but it delivers 15.81kmpl (ARAI). Let us know if there are any other doubts. Stay Pinned! 🙂

      • Hi Utkarsh,

        Thank you for your response, after all the due diligence. I booked Creta IVT. Thank you so much for your help!

  17. Would request your guidance on whether I should go for a MG Hector DCT or MG Hector CVT. While most of my driving would be within the city, I am planning some longer drives (around 600-800 km) once in a while. That may involve driving in the ghat section.

    • Hi Murli,
      MG has done a really great deal by offering two automatic transmissions in the Hector. So, if you’ll be driving the SUV majorly in the city with occasional long road trips, we’d recommend you to opt for CVT. In the city, the CVT will offer a really good fuel economy. And out on the highway, it will let the engine stretch its legs with no compromise on the fuel efficiency. Hope it helps, Stay Pinned! 🙂

  18. I am looking to buy Renault Kiger RXT AMT version. Its a 1L petrol engine, may be under powered. My usage would be around 3000 kms a year, mainly city drive with couple of trips up the hill. Can you give your review on the car ? Will the 1L engine wtih AMT be able to carry a full load uphill ?

    • Hi Mikesh,
      Kiger with a 1.0 litre naturally aspirated engine is really good when city driving is your priority. But things change a drastic change when it encounters hills that too with a full load. Yes! you are right, the SUV will hesitate in the mountains and the car will be working hard. Hope it helps, stay pinned! 🙂

      • Thanks Utkarsh for quick reply. So if we are to compare it’s driveability on a hill with a Baleno, will Baleno be much better or at par or slightly better ? I am asking since I am currently driving one.

        • Hi Mik,
          Yes, Maruti Suzuki Baleno will fair much better on hills when compared to Kiger. It is the turbo petrol Kiger that will be a little better than Baleno. But then, if you have Kiger on your list, we suggest you visit a Nissan showroom and take a test drive of the Magnite and then compare the two. Hope it helps! Stay Pinned 🙂

  19. I’m told CVT are no good for towing are there any used 4×4 models that are CVT and good for towing looking around 2005 to 20010 suv

    • Hi Nadine,
      Yes! you got the right information, CVTs are not ar all good for towing. We’d recommend you go for a torque converter if you are looking for a heavy-duty Pickup truck. Hope it helps!

  20. Hi Utkarsh
    interesting help you are extending to many. Great & informative !
    I am looking for a car in the range of 10 lakhs automatic transmission/petrol driven. don’t have lot of driving around. I have not ruled out electric one as thats the future and helps the atmosphere. But the charging stations are limited and eventually growing i know. Found something in Nexon though undecided. Do you suggest anything else in that range(1.2 ltrs power engine or more )

    best regards
    James Joseph
    +91-9947818412

    • Hi James,
      To being with, Nexon EV will cost you a lot more than the conventional Nexon. Moreover, as of now, EVs in the Indian market does not quite make sense not just because of the limited charging station but also pollution. On the consumers end sure they look eco friendly but in a nation that produced 60% of electricity via thermal powerplants it sure is indirectly polluting. Now keeping that aside, we’d recommend you to take look at the Nissan Magnite with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine which is mated to a CVT transmission. In the real world and also on paper the SUV is indeed a gem. Go and take a test ride, you’ll know the reason yourself. Hope it helpes. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  21. Hi Utkarsh,

    I am planning to buy an SUV with Panoramic sunroof in the range of 15-20 Lakhs . Electric sunroof is ok for me but my spouse is crazy for Panoramic as our kid (2 years old) can stand and enjoy the view .Can you please suggest which is better in terms of safety, driving experience etc

    • Hi Vedula,
      To begin with, standing out through a panoramic or any sunroof for that matter is *VERY* risky and is not at all advised. Still, if you are planning to buy a car with a panoramic sunroof, currently there are 2 cars that are in your budget. So, to precisely suggest you a vehicle we’d like to know which type of fuel you’ll prefer, Diesel or Petrol?

  22. Hi Utkarsh,

    Panoramic sunroof is the sole reason that my budget went a bit high from 10-15 to 15-20 L .Off late ,i have been hearing that standing out through sunroof is risky. Can you please elaborate on this. My city travel is more during nights (less traffic) and moderate in highways/outstation(Once in every 3 months)

    • Hi Vedula,

      The vehicles that offer a panoramic sunroof at this price are the Hyundai Creta, Tata Harrier and MG Hector. Also, some variants of Jeep Compass boast of a panoramic sunroof.

  23. @Utkarsh Bharadwaj,

    I need to understand more about your comment ” Sunroof for that matter is *VERY* risky and is not at all advised ”

    Can you please elaborate

    Regards
    Karthik

    • Hi Vedula,
      A sunroof is a luxury feature that enhances the overall ambience of the vehicle, provided it is used for its entitled purpose. But if a child stands out from the sunroof it is risky for the child.

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