Torque Shop

When I went to view the new 1-litre Opel Astra. The salesman told me it has an Easytronic transmission that is actually a manual gearbox without a clutch pedal. How does it work?

Opel's Easytronic is a manual gearbox that changes gears automatically. It is called a robotised manual transmission because the clutch operation is fully controlled by the on-board computer.

There are two operating modes available to the driver - fully automatic in D (drive), whereby the system changes gears with no input from the driver; and semi-automatic in M (manual), whereby the driver controls the gear changes by flicking the gear lever forward (to upshift) or backward (to downshift). In either operating mode, the clutch is operated by the car's gearbox controller.

The robotised system can perform smoothly if you bear in mind that there is a clutch controlled by a "robot" and ease off the accelerator pedal during every gear change.

Another key difference between a robotised manual gearbox and a conventional automatic gearbox is the lack of a P (park) position for the gearshifter. You need to put the robotised manual gearbox into N (neutral) and engage the parking brake.

SHREEJIT CHANGAROTH

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe