Hyundai and Kia have been busy tinkering with the manual gearbox. A few weeks ago, Kia introduced their “clutch-by-wire” transmission which used an electronic linkage in place of a mechanical linkage. It will be used in a variety of Kia models including their mild-hybrid electric vehicles (MHEVs). Hyundai, however, seems to have one-upped Kia by removing the clutch pedal altogether, creating a “clutch-less” manual transmission.
Similar to Kia, Hyundai's new gearbox is called intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT). Even though it is pegged as “clutch-less”, the transmission still uses a clutch. Instead of the conventional three-pedal manual, however, it only uses two-pedals – a brake and an accelerator.
The clutch is then automatically operated by various technologies integrated into the gearbox: a Transmission Gear Shift (TGS) Lever with Intention Sensor, Hydraulic Actuator, and Transmission Control Unit (TCU). According to Hyundai, the system starts with the TCU receiving a signal from the TGS Lever Intention Sensor, indicating drivers desire to change gears. The TCU then sends a signal to the Hydraulic Actuator forming hydraulic pressure which is then sent to the CSC via a clutch tube. The CSC will use this pressure to control the clutch and pressure plate, engaging and/or disengaging the clutch. Through this technology, the driver can seamlessly shift gears without the need to mechanically operate a clutch pedal.
With the lack of a clutch pedal, Hyundai's new iMT does make it easier for new and beginner drivers to learn driving stick. Rather than having to operate three pedals, drivers only have two-pedals to think about. Unlike an automatic, however, Hyundai says the iMT will give drivers the same excitement of changing gears as you would in a traditional three-pedal manual gearbox.
Hyundai's “clutch-less” manual transmission will make its debut on the upcoming Venue crossover for the Indian market. Specifically, a six-speed iMT will be mated to the 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder available in India. It was not mentioned whether or not the gearbox will be offered in other models outside of India. Hopefully, we get to see it locally should Hyundai Philippines decide to offer it on their model lineup.