It should be no surprise to anyone that we here at Roadshow are big fans of manual transmissions. They increase driver engagement and make just about anything that has one more fun than its automatic or dual-clutch counterparts. The thing is, a lot of people don't know how to use a clutch, or they have medical conditions or injuries that prevent them from using one. How do we get these people rowing their own gears?
Hyundai's Indian arm might have a solution, and it's something we haven't seen in a production car in a long time: a clutchless manual transmission, which it announced earlier this month. Yep, you read that right. A manual gearbox with a regular shifter, only no clutch pedal. Even cooler is the fact that it's being paired with the , and a teeny-tiny 1.0-liter turbocharged engine.
Now, if yo're a big car history buff, you might remember that German cars flirted with clutchless manuals back in the 1960s. Porsche had one in the 911 called the Sportomatic, and the VW equivalent was called the Autostick (not to be confused with the Chrysler automatic transmission of the same name), butthey weren't especially popular and are pretty rare today. What separates those from the Hyundai system (other than 50-plus years of technological advancement) is that the Hyundai system is a six-speed, controlled by computers.
Ok, so how does it work? As you might expect, it's a little complicated, but not all that different from the systems used in the automated manual transmissions (BMW SMG, Ferrari F1 gearbox, etc.) from the late 1990s and early aughts. The shifting process works as follows:
1. The Transmission Control Unit (TCU) receives a signal from the transmission gear shift (TGS) Lever Intention Sensor, indicating a driver's desire to change gears.
2. The TCU sends a signal to engage a hydraulic actuator forming hydraulic pressure in the clutch system.
3. Hydraulic pressure is then sent to the Concentric Slave Cylinder (CSC) through a clutch line.
4.CSC uses this pressure to control the clutch and pressure plate, thereby engaging and disengaging the clutch.
5. The driver is able to seamlessly shift gears without the need to operate the clutch pedal mechanically.
Now, that sounds pretty cool, but a few questions remain. Primarily, how quickly does the system work to operate the clutch? Can you bang through the gears enthusiastically, or do you need to exercise a bit of mechanical sympathy while the hydraulics catch up? How will the system handle downshifts? Will it automatically blip the throttle for you? Or will you be required to make a stop in neutral to do it yourself?
Hyundai didn't immediately respond to our request for comment.