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Monday, October 24, 2016

Tata Hexa Manual vs Automatic- Differences Explained!

As you may be aware, I am just back from Hyderabad, where 60 bloggers chosen by Indiblogger got to attend the #HexaExperience by Tata Motors. We got to experience the brand new Hexa SUV from Tata Motors first hand before anyone else. While I have several posts planned on this event, one of the most frequently asked question on social media was if manual is better or automatic, or if Automatic is responsive enough etc. To clear this confusion, I am detailing in this post the key differences between Hexa’s Manual Transmission variant vs Automatic Transmission. These information are as observed and experienced during our media drive and information sourced from Tata Motor’s official websites/social media channels or press kit. We had a more than 170 km drive in the Hexa’s half in MT and half in AT, so that we could experience both in detail. 80 km+ one way is no short test drive and it is pretty good distance to experience a car.

Automatic transmissions have evolved a lot in India. Decades ego they were prerogative of only super expensive cars. AT was common abroad but in India customers hesitated buying auto- mainly because fuel economy concerns and partly because most drivers were men, who were comfortable with MT and didn’t see value in AT. That perception is changing now. Hyundai was the first to introduce Santro Automatic long back. Now Automatic transmission is available in almost all new modes across price range, starting with Tata Nano. All manufacturers are making it a point to have at least one variant in AT, not to lose out on the customers who prefer automatic. Technology has improved over decades and now AT is almost as fuel efficient as manual, if not better. Price difference is also dropping significantly, because of larger acceptance and demand volume.

Tata Motors obviously recognize this trend and demand for AT and Hexa does come with a feature loaded Automatic version. Most manufacturers pick a mid-variant to introduce AT, so that they can keep cost low (No ZDI or ZXI auto in Maruti’s stable). For Hexa, Tata Motors has gone one step ahead and kept the AT variant at par with manual on almost all counts.

This post primarily focuses on the difference between Hexa AT and Hexa MT. Details on other Hexa features and performance is coming up in a separate post.

Above: Interiors of Tata Hexa AT (my own image)
Below: Interiors of Tata Hexa MT (image from press kit)

The table detailing differences between Hexa manual and automatic variants
#
Feature
Hexa Manual (MT)
Hexa Automatic (AT)
Remarks
1
Gears
6 speed, synchromesh
6 speed straight line shift

2
Fuel Economy
Higher
Expected to be slighty less than Manual (5- 10%)
Certified fuel economy not disclosed yet
3
Drive system and Safety
With ABS + EBD, 4x4 variants get Traction Control (ESP) with LSD
ABS + EBD
6 airbags in top end variants in both AT & MT

Because there’s no off road ability in AT, no traction control or LSD is included
4
4x4
Available
Not Available
AT 4x4 expected late 2017
5
Driving modes
4 (Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Rough Road)
Manual, Sports (Race Car Performance) option in addition to Auto

6
Convenience in driving
Standard
Relatively better
AT is preferred by those not convenient with frequent gear changes or those who drive often in city traffic
7
Fun to drive Aspect
Slightly higher (Try Dynamic Mode
Racecar mode is a brilliant feature that lets you enjoy auto (but expect further drop in fuel economy)
Most driving enthusiasts prefer Manual as it gives more control and feel
8
Engine Responsiveness to gear change
Immediate
Impressive
Difference was negligible as far as I could feel
9
Variants
NA
NA
Variant information will be known in Jan. Usually Auto will be offered in the most expensive or near top variants only, Manual will be available in all variants on offer
10
Price
Cheaper
Higher
Within same variant and specifications, AT will be a bit expensive than MT. Exact pricing will be known in Jan. Should be in the price range of 15-20 lakhs on road.
11
Other exterior and interior features

There could be some AT badge on the outside along with variant code/name. Otherwise no differences
No visible differences
12
Reasons to buy
1. If purchase cost and fuel economy are your priority
2. If you’ve always preferred manual and not excited by the convenience of AT
3. You need 4x4 abilities in your Hexa
4. You are planning to hire a driver, so driver convenience is not really on top of your list of priorities
1.If you prefer convenience of AT
2.If most of your drive is in city traffic
3.If the vehicle will be driven by other family members who prefer AT
4.You don’t plan to use the Hexa off the road



Above: Manual version gets 4 super drive modes, each offering a set of unique features- I will detail them later in my review of Hexa


The Hexa AT with Racing mode.
Driving enthusiasts often prefer MT because it is more responsive and fun to drive- but Hexa’s Auto variants get a Sports mode, which makes then extremely fun to drive. In this mode, which I experienced first hand, engine keeps the revs high in the range of 3000 rpm or more, even if you slow down or break. What this means is faster acceleration and more responsive engine when you are ready to hit the accelerator next. Race car mode gets activated if you floor the pedal consistently (for 3 seconds or more) and shift to S mode. Be advised that driving forever in this mode will further compromise fuel economy.

I hope this answers most of your queries on AT vs MT and help you decide which one is better for you.

Read more: Hexa's Offroad abilities * Hexa vs Innova Crysta vs XUV5OO * Detailed review of Hexa 

4 comments :

damo said...

Hi wanted to know how is the turning radius between the manual and auto? Also is the steering lighter in the auto? In which variant was the braking better?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sorry, unfortunately haven't checked on these parameters. 4x4 MT gets more technology than the 4x2 version, so guessing it should be marginally better at stopping.. Didn't experience any noticeable difference in terms of turning radius and steering.

Tomichan Matheikal said...

That's a pretty detailed review. Tata must pay you for this :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Tomichan- Thanks