Yes, you read that right.
Just a few days after the news that new Hyundai N performance models will retain a model gearbox, the Korean automaker has more good news for fans of rowing your own gears. Well, kind of. You see, Hyundai's latest manual transmission has a gear lever that you control yourself, but it doesn't have a clutch. Heel-and-toe shifters, this probably isn't the setup for you. But at least it offers some manual control in a time when even electric vehicles are outselling cars with a stickshift.
Announced by Hyundai India, the intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) will be fitted to a version of the Venue SUV that is sold there. Hyundai describes the two-pedal, six-speed manual transmission as an industry first and says it will be paired with the 1.0-liter T-GDi gas engine.
So, how does it all work? Well, the iMT's system is made up of a gear lever with an intention sensor, an hydraulic actuator, and a transmission control unit (TCU). The intention sensor sends a signal to the TCU which indicates the desire to change gears, and then another signal is relayed from the TCU to the hydraulic actuator.
With hydraulic pressure built up, the clutch is engaged and disengaged via the concentric slave cylinder without additional driver input. Hyundai describes the electromechanical process as seamless, but it'll surely take some acclimatization for drivers coming from a regular manual - we foresee much redundant flexing of left legs.
Mr. SS Kim is the MD and CEO of Hyundai Motor India Ltd., and said that iMT balances the pleasure of driving with an easier, more convenient commute, no doubt referring to the considerable traffic congestion in India. It's much the same across the United States, although for now, the Venue is only offered with a conventional manual gearbox or a CVT in the US. We also don't have the 1.0-liter turbo option which the iMT will be paired with in India.
If the transmission proves as enjoyable as Hyundai says it is, and if it is reliable, we see no reason why it shouldn't be offered in other markets. After all, clutch control remains the biggest obstacle to the smooth operation of a manual-transmission vehicle.