It’s the end of an era with the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of automatic cars


Bijoy Ku­mar, Richard Meaden & Richard Porter

AM I FROM THE OLD SCHOOL OR THE NEW school? I have no idea. Per­haps ‘no school’ is more like it. My daugh­ter, Miura, com­pleted her 12th grade board ex­ams and is all set to turn 18 in June. And she has been pa­tiently wait­ing for the day when she could of­fi­cially drive. I was glad that my ‘gen­er­a­tion Z’ daugh­ter has some in­ter­est in driv­ing while my mil­len­nial son de­spises the idea. The old school me wanted her to get her first les­son in a car with man­ual gear shift while the new school me dreaded whether she would lose in­ter­est in driv­ing com­pletely, hav­ing to use the clutch. After a lot of think­ing I handed her the keys to the old Mercedes with an automatic gear box one fine morn­ing and oc­cu­pied the pas­sen­ger seat. She was a nat­u­ral be­hind the wheel and ex­pertly nav­i­gated through the maze of morn­ing walk­ers. By the third day she even guided the car through the gate of the build­ing and parked in the des­ig­nated slot. Al­right, she al­most banged the gate as well as my XUV – mind you Mercs don’t have the tra­di­tional hand brake and I could slot the gear se­lec­tor to ‘park’ only if she braked in time. She did, thank­fully on both oc­ca­sions.

Now that I have done my job of ini­ti­at­ing her into driv­ing, she can join a driv­ing school and go through the le­gal process of getting a li­cence. It is an­other thing that she won’t be getting an auto box at the driv­ing school and soon will have to learn to live with the clutch. But why? Sta­tis­tics sug­gest that my daugh­ter can for­get the ‘clutch’ gen­er­a­tion. Automatic and au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion (AMT) cars have been do­ing well in In­dia and my

quick Google search proves that al­most 12 per cent of all cars sold in 2018 were au­to­mat­ics. In China, au­to­mat­ics ac­count for over 50 per cent while in the USA it is above 85 per cent. While al­most ev­ery lux­ury car fea­tures automatic trans­mis­sion, the num­ber of small cars avail­able with auto boxes are grow­ing too, with over a dozen af­ford­able ones in the In­dian mar­ket. Add to this the fact that all the elec­tric ve­hi­cles sold in the world fea­ture some form of automatic trans­mis­sion.

Sure, it was sac­ri­lege to men­tion that you liked au­to­mat­ics when I was a full-fledged mo­tor­ing scribe. You im­me­di­ately got dis­owned by the ‘en­thu­si­ast’ genre who al­ways wanted to keep the car ‘on the boil’ and ‘go through’ the gear box to ex­tract the best 0-100kmph runs. It is all fine on airstrips and tracks, but when you are tackling traf­fic at Kan­di­vali, even a Lam­borgh­ini is best left at ‘drive’ mode. Even on a race track, the man­ual mon­gers are bet­ter off hang­ing on to the steer­ing with both hands than shift­ing gears in high per­for­mance cars like the BMW M3. I learnt early that any­thing above 200bhp on tap is best with­out a clutch un­less your last name is Fan­gio or Moss. Trust me, you don’t want to get your gear shift wrong as you are ex­it­ing a cor­ner in a su­per­car.

My daugh­ter will be learn­ing a skill that she will have to forego in her life time as driver­less cars are al­most a real­ity al­ready. Sure, it will take some time to fine-tune the prac­ti­cal is­sues and le­gal angles but hey, the day when you sit in a cage and type in the des­ti­na­tion and read a novel is not too far away. Till then, she can ‘stick’ to au­to­mat­ics, I think. ⌧

It was sac­ri­lege to men­tion that you liked au­to­mat­ics when I was a FULL-flEDGED mo­tor­ing scribe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.