Combining the best of both worlds, manual shifting without the need to depress the clutch, Hyundai Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) provides an ingenious solution to aficionados who still prefer shifting gears manually
Hyundai is been a brand that resonates with a lot of innovation when it comes to mainstream cars. The company has been known for packing a lot of features inside the cabin while constantly refining the steering and engine setup for its cars across all segments. The latest example being this Venue equipped with the Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT), yes, it allows you to shift gears as you would in any other car but without the use of a clutch pedal. The notion of clutchless manual seems new, but turn the pages of history and you’ll notice Saab introduced it back in 1993 and Sensonic. While Saab’s system was a lot confusing and sluggish, the new Hyundai iMT is absolute magic. We got a few hours with the new Venue iMT to tell you more about it.
How does it drive?
Since the primary subject is the iMT, we’ll straight jump into the performance aspect of it. While we may have been sceptical about it on the way towards the showroom, everything completely changed with the first gear. Press the brake, start the car, slot into first gear and just release the brake, you’re off! Okay, let’s back up. There is a 998cc turbocharged petrol engine that develops 120 PS of maximum power and peak torque of 172 Nm from as low as 1,500 rpm. These figures give some considerable shove to the Venue, remember the torque figure is comparable to what a 1.8l Toyota Corolla Altis develops.
Gear shifting through the 6-speed iMT is seamless too where all you need to do is take your foot off the accelerator pedal while shifting. There is absolutely no fuss about the gearbox, it simply works smoothly. There are beeps to warn you that the rpm is dropping too low and you need to shift down. My only gripe is that the initial set off from zero is slightly abrupt which needs some time to get used to. It’s a tiny niggle, but parking could be a tedious workout. Other than that it works great and more customers will find it an interesting option against the manual version.
What about handling and ride quality?
The Venue is a fun-to-drive car, especially with the 1.0l turbo petrol engine. Once you push past the evident turbo lag, it just lifts off like a torrent thanks to the big meaty torque output. The nicest thing about the entire setup is the steering which is quite precise. Even with softer suspension setup, the front end can be pointed through sharper directional changes and it responds wonderfully. Hyundai engineers have worked hard to keep it a comfortable family car, while not losing any of its athletic properties.
While it has 190mm ground clearance to handle rough patches with ease, it does not hamper its corner-carving abilities through curvy roads. It is dimensionally spacious and dynamically compact at the same time. The iMT has to be understood properly before you can extract the best out of it though. It is well responsive but can be through quick changes, like the transition from 2nd to 3rd cog. Although we’ll need to spend more time with the car before settling on that, a short drive can only tell you limited bits.
How is the equipment package?
Again, it is packed to the brim with multiple connectivity options, 33 Bluelink services free for three years, sunroof and what not. The responsive 8-inch HD infotainment touchscreen has a plethora of information, including driving information and navigation. Hyundai Bluelink services SOS and tow when you are in trouble. The noise isolation is excellent as well. The cabin is very quiet inside with just a gentle rumble of the turbo petrol engine singing in the background. Okay, there are some suspension thuds audible inside as well, but only the really giant ones which you should go gently on.
Then there are subtle details, like the gorgeously made LED indicators on the OVRMs, glovebox cooling, D-cut steering wheel, telematics switches on the rearview mirrors and voice recognition, all add a premium appeal to the Venue which is most welcome in this segment.
The iMT setup with the turbocharged petrol engine is a great option for people looking for convenient commuting while still engaging in the act of shifting manual gears. It is surprisingly easy to get used to right from the first time you try your hands on the iMT. Gear transition is smooth and the healthy torque output supports seamless acceleration. While our drive experience was short, where it is difficult to comment on fuel efficiency and high-speed stability, the initial driving take is very positive. The quick steering response and handling prowess together with clutchless manual shifting will work wonders for a new set of customers. Although the DCT will still be the winner when it comes to technological advancement, but the iMT does expand a new horizon for interested customers.