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Exclusive | Maruti Suzuki to launch cars with 6-speed gearbox this year

The car market leader’s entire portfolio, ranging from Alto to Ciaz presently runs on five-speed gearboxes.

March 13, 2018 / 01:01 PM IST
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Maruti Suzuki’s ‘family car’ image will get a major boost this year when the company launches a six-speed gearbox which will effectively make its cars even more driver-centric.

The car market leader’s entire portfolio, ranging from Alto to Ciaz, currently run on five-speed gearboxes. A six-speed transmission, which is codenamed MF30, will substantially boost the overall driving performance of the car.

“Maruti is looking to shore up the use of six-speed transmissions in a gradual way. Starting with 50,000 units in the first year the demand is projected to go to 400,000 units per year by 2020”, said an industry source.

The first six-speed transmission car under this programme will likely be the Swift hatchback, which the company commercially launched last month with a five-speed gearbox.

An additional sixth gear enhances fuel efficiency because of better spacing of gears. The car essentially runs at a higher speed but at lower RPMs.

For instance, cruising speed of 80-100km/hour on the highway can be done in the sixth gear rather than in the fifth gear. This will put a lot less stress on the engine. In addition to a better fuel economy there is much less cabin noise in the car in a six-speed gearbox car.

A response from Maruti Suzuki stated “We don’t give guidance on future products and technologies”.

This will not be the first time that Maruti Suzuki is using a six-speed gearbox. It had used this technology in the previous generation S-Cross, a premium cross-over with a 1.6 litre diesel engine, which met with limited success.

However, with the phasing out of the earlier generation model and subsequent launch of the all-new version last year the company also terminated the use of the six-speed gearbox. The S-Cross is now sold only with the 1.3 litre diesel engine mated to a five-speed gearbox.

The Delhi-based company will not be the only company to offer six-speed transmissions. Perhaps, one of the major reasons why Maruti is upgrading its gearbox is because of rival Hyundai who has been employing six-speed transmissions in cars like Elite i20, Verna, Elantra, Creta and Tucson.

Tata Motors too introduced the Nexon, a compact sports utility vehicle rivalling the Maruti Suzuki Brezza, with a six-speed manual transmission. Very soon the company will launch a 6-speed automatic variant of the SUV in an automated manual transmission (AMT) format. The Brezza, which is the market leader in the SUV space does not come with an automatic gearbox.

Tata Motors also offers the premium SUV Hexa and mid-size SUV Safari with a six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Similarly, French car maker Renault sells three cars with six-speed transmissions – Lodgy, Duster and Captur.

One of the top selling premium SUVs Jeep Compass and two models of Mahindra - XUV 500 and Scorpio – also use six-speed gearboxes.
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Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Mar 13, 2018 11:46 am