Ford India has stayed out of the automatics game for many years, despite many competing car makers attempting selective offerings with the auto gearbox. Amongst the many reasons for not considering an automatic transmission in any of its cars were – the market wasn't big enough, people were loathe to pay a higher price just to free their left foot, automatics weren't fuel efficient and there was no need to offer the chauffeur the benefit of an easier, more comfortable driving experience. All very valid reasons, after all if a car's automatic variant would cost 15-20 per cent more and offer 15-20 per cent lesser mileage than its manual transmission variant, the reaction of the cost-conscious buyer is likely to be “my left foot”.
Motor Racing: Latvala wins final rally of Wales Rally GB season. Chauffeurs are becoming expensive, the slow-moving traffic and road conditions in our crowded cities is frustrating, and new generation automatics are becoming as efficient or even better than manual transmissions - all of these factors are driving more buyers towards automatics. Of course, new buyers for auto trannies are also emerging from the ‘IRABCD' class – India Returned American Born Confused Desi!Ford has sensed the change in buyer preferences and the result is a quick homologation of one of its newest automatic transmissions that has been specially formulated and developed for the new Fiesta (and the Focus in some markets), and is said to be specially relevant for emerging, cost-conscious markets like India. And, for the first time in this segment, buyers will get a dual clutch automatic transmission, an advancement that has seemed to be the privilege of luxury and super sports cars till now.
Ford is planning to launch the new Fiesta Automatic only with the petrol engine version and only in January next year, after showcasing it at the forthcoming 2012 Auto Expo in Delhi. But, motoring journos were given a chance to try out the new transmission variant in Goa last week. Here are my first impressions.Ford India has stayed out of the automatics game for many years, despite many competing car makers attempting selective offerings with the auto gearbox. Amongst the many reasons for not considering an automatic transmission in any of its cars.From the outside, the new Ford Fiesta automatic is no different from its manual counterpart. It bears no signage or stickers to distinguish it. And it looks like Ford might just keep it that way, without any sort of appendage that identifies its clutch-pedal-less form. There are going to be new colours, including the Red you see in these pages, but apart from that the car will pretty much be the same. The design still looks new though - same great hatchback design that the sedan still carries off with panache and the same look of unified Ford design that the manual Fiestas are already making us fans of.
What's changed is the powertrain's transmission part, without almost any measurable difference to the output characteristics of the same 1.5-litre Ti-VCT Duratec engine that also powers the manual gearbox variant. However, replacing the 5-speed manual transmission is a new six-speed dual clutch transmission with what Ford calls PowerShift technology.