Autonomous is the way forward, or at least, it seems to be how people of the 21st century want things to be. We have cars that drive themselves, planes that fly themselves, machines that produce coffee themselves and toilets that flush themselves, automatically. However, in this era of ‘things doing things themselves’, are we really missing out on the joy of doing things ourselves? Take for example the whole scenario of automatic gearboxes. Now yes, we would all agree to the fact that they are indeed convenient and do make more sense than a traditional manual transmission in cities of today whose roads are clogged day and night with traffic moving at a snail’s pace.
That an automatic gearbox makes even more sense if you were to live in one such cities and own a big and burly SUV, like that of the all new 2016 Toyota Fortuner. The last thing that you want to engage in while navigating a mammoth sized 4×4 through, let’s say, Delhi’s peak hour traffic, is get involved in the process of changing gears. Toyota also agrees to this fact and hence have provided the latest iteration of the Fortuner with a 6-speed automatic sequential transmission which comes with goodies like paddle shifters and shift-lock. But then, Toyota also offers the Fortuner with a 6-speed manual transmission as well. We talked in length about the former in our detailed first drive report and were quite impressed by its capabilities. Will the latter be able to hold ground and prove its worthiness? Let’s find out!
Getting the specifics out of the way first, the gearbox in question here is a 6-speed assembly, mated to a 2.8-litre diesel engine which churns out 174 bhp along with 420Nm of peak torque. For starters, the gearshifts are smooth, the clutch pedal is light, both of which combines into an overall comfortable experience of changing gears. However, if you have just upgraded from a small hatchback to the 2016 Fortuner, you might find the gear slots to be slightly far away from each other, which might take a bit of time getting used to.
Slot in the first gear and this SUV pulls effortlessly. There is no noticeable low end hesitation, neither from the gearbox nor the engine. The power is offered in a linear fashion from the turbocharged diesel engine with it being transmitted to the wheels smoothly through the gearbox. Shifting between the gears, one seldom notices jerkiness. To further iron that out, Toyota has equipped the 2016 Fortuner with Intelligent Manual Transmission technology. What it does, in simple language, is to match the speed of the engine with that of the transmission, according to the gear chosen. This results in a jerk free switching of gears, thus offering a smooth ride.
Since all the other mechanical’s between the automatic and the manual version of the Fortuner remain the same, the ride quality too remains unchanged. The suspensions absorbs bumps quite well with seldom does one seeking its way and being felt inside the cabin. That said, the ride does feel a bit bumpy at times, still quite commendable for an SUV of this size. The driving position of the 2016 Toyota Fortuner is quite high up from the ground, despite this, thanks to its dynamics; the same feels no weirder to drive than a Toyota Etios.
Talking about premium, since both the manual and automatic versions are available on the same trim levels, the list of creature comforts and gadgets are identical. One gets dark brown leather wrapped upholstery, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering, large TFT multi-information display with navigation, automatic climate control, touchscreen multimedia display with capacitive switches among many others.
So, should you buy one? Should you rather go for the manual version of the 2016 Toyota Fortuner or should you opt for the more convenient automatic one? Well, if you among those who would rather make their own coffee than letting a machine do it for you, cause you like to have it your own way, then our suggestion would be that you go for the manual one, simply because you won’t be disappointed. However, if you prefer you coffee to be made by the experts at you nearest cafe, then it is the automatic for you!