It has been a few years since the introduction of Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) in the Indian market. Over time, numerous manufacturers have started equipping their budget offerings with AMT. However, many owners of AMT cars still complain about the transmission’s laggy performance and their inability to experience a fulfilling drive. The latest offering from Hyundai, the Exter, comes with paddle-shifters combined with AMT. Could this technology be the solution to bring joy to AMT car owners? To find out the answers, we took the Exter AMT for a drive around Jaipur.
Hyundai Exter AMT
The AMT technology is not new, but Hyundai has cleverly incorporated paddle shifters into the basic automatic transmission to make it more enjoyable, while still retaining its unique selling point of offering convenience with high fuel efficiency. The fundamental workings of the AMT in the Exter remain the same: you put it in drive mode, press the accelerator, and drive while the car handles the clutch and gear changes. When you need to overtake, pressing the accelerator harder prompts the car to drop a gear, allowing you to gain speed and zoom ahead.
Additionally, the Exter features a manual mode that you can activate by pulling the gear lever towards yourself. In this mode, you have the option to manually shift gears using the lever. However, the real fun begins when you use the flappy paddles behind the steering wheel, giving you even more control over the transmission. To upshift, you use the paddle on the right-hand side, and to downshift, you use the one on the left-hand side.
Since AMTs function similarly to manual transmissions, shifting gears involves briefly lifting your foot from the accelerator, shifting, and then getting back to driving. Remarkably, the process of gear shifting in the Exter’s AMT is incredibly smooth and easy. During our test drive, the gear shifts were flawless, without a single jerk. While you can keep your foot on the accelerator while shifting, it’s worth noting that in some instances, these shifts may not be as smooth. Nevertheless, most of the time, even such shifts were smooth enough.
One might expect any car equipped with two pedals and flappy paddles to be a fuel guzzler, but the Exter defies this expectation. Thanks to its naturally aspirated engine and AMT transmission, it returned an impressive fuel efficiency of about 16 km/l during our 90-km drive around Jaipur. This figure was achieved without specifically aiming for high fuel efficiency and even with the car idling during our shoot.
Hyundai Exter: A refined engine
The Exter comes equipped with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine, which results in impressive refinement. Even when idling, the car remains vibration-free and maintains its composure during acceleration. In comparison, its direct rival, the Punch, features a three-cylinder engine that can be less smooth when idling or accelerating.
The naturally-aspirated petrol engine delivers a maximum power of 83 PS and a peak torque of 114 Nm, making it adequately quick for swift overtaking maneuvers. During our test, we conducted a zero to 100 km/h run with the AMT, and it achieved a time of around 14 seconds. Hyundai claims that the manual transmission can do the same in 12.6 seconds.
The engine’s mid-range performance is robust, making overtaking in drive mode quite effortless. There is ample power readily available to assist with overtaking whenever needed. Additionally, during a cruising test at 100 km/h, the engine displayed a stress-free performance.
Hyundai Exter: Feature-rich cabin
The dashboard of the Hyundai Exter does bear some similarities to the Grand i10 NIOS. However, there are various color themes available for the Exter, including the Khaki and Blue shades. The cabin layout is simple yet of top-notch quality, in line with Hyundai’s other vehicles.
The centerpiece is an 8.0-inch screen, which remains easily visible even under direct sunlight. It offers an extensive list of features, such as offline maps and Hyundai BlueLink. Additionally, you can utilize voice commands to control various functions, including the climate control and sunroof. The instrument cluster follows a typical fully digital Hyundai setup, featuring a small monochrome screen in the middle.
The Exter comes loaded with numerous features, including a wireless phone charger, sunroof, footwell lighting, and more. The seats are also designed with good bolsters to provide excellent body support. However, it’s worth noting that the headrests are fixed for the front passengers, and there is no armrest.
Hyundai has effectively managed the space within the car. It offers a massive 391 liters of boot capacity. If you watch the video, you can witness how much luggage the boot can accommodate, as well as the space available in the front and rear seats, using a 5’11” person (your height) as a reference point.
Hyundai Exter: Looks quirky?
Looks are subjective, but we will describe how Hyundai has given the Exter a muscular appearance, drawing inspiration from cars like the Ioniq5. The front parametric grille and the headlamps take cues from the Ioniq5, and the H-shaped DRLs (standard across all variants) add to its distinctive look. While roof rails are present, they are not functional, and the 15-inch alloy wheels fill up the wheel wells nicely.
The C-Pillar is thick, but it does not obstruct the view for rear passengers. Moving to the rear, the Exter features H-shaped tail lamps made of LEDs, and a thick plastic cladding connects both tail lamps, following the parametric design. For a more detailed look at the exterior, you can watch the video.
Hyundai Exter: Better than the Punch then?
The Exter surpasses the Punch with its superior fit and finish, abundance of features, spaciousness, and a highly refined engine. Although Hyundai is yet to subject the car to Global NCAP testing, they confidently assert that it will achieve a high safety rating when tested. Furthermore, the Exter comes equipped with six airbags and ESC as standard, in addition to benefiting from Hyundai’s extensive service network and better dealership behavior. In all aspects, the Exter outshines the Punch.
This superiority of the Exter might potentially impact Tata’s sales, but the inclusion of AMT with paddle shifters in the Exter opens the door to a new customer base. Those who were previously hesitant to adopt affordable automatic technology may now be drawn to the Exter, thereby expanding its customer demographic.