When the time arrives to purchase a new car, you can easily be caught with the tough decision in opting for manual or automatic. Quite often this can be the deal maker or breaker! Traditionally, a manual gearbox offers simplicity, performance and a high level of efficiency when compared to an automatic, while allowing for a more of a ‘drivers package’.
In recent times vehicle transmissions have undergone a huge level of innovation and improvements all round – delivering better fuel efficiency, greater performance, durability and drivability. Manual gearboxes now have more gears, the new 7-speed transmission in the 2012 Porsche 911 is meant to improve fuel-economy and reduce engine noise by means of a long seventh gear, most now have at least six cogs!
Automatics also have more gears, some production cars are now available with an 8 speed option like the new X5 BMW, all in all to help improve efficiency. The extra gears in the 8 speed transmission and efficient design generally offer more than a 10% fuel saving over older tech 5 speed versions.
Equally as advanced a new platform twin-clutch design is now available, taking all of the good characteristics from a manual transmission and combining them with automatic computer controlled gear changes and clutch operation. As complex as it sounds this technology is available in many late model Audi/VW’s, some Ford models and late model Porsches to name a few.
Inside the car it’s all hidden behind a standard looking automatic gear selection of P-R-N-D. To see a direct clutch gear box in action watch this video:
Another example would be the CVT (continuously variable transmission), this technology is branded by Audi as ‘Multitronic’. It is claimed that the CVT gearbox compares well to a manual. Boasting features that represent a pure manual gearbox; better acceleration and better fuel economy, all whilst benefiting from a more comfortable ride of an automatic gearbox. This technology is now available from many manufacturers.
As innovative transmissions emerge, so do specific gear oils, for highly engineered systems such as the twin clutch or CVT – using the correct gear oil is imperative. Liqui-Moly offers a range of specialist gear oils, including the ‘Top Tec ATF 1400’ which covers the Audi CVT transmission (specification VW 052 180), and the Mercedes A-Class CVT transmission (specification MB 236.20). To find the appropriate gear oil for your vehicle see the Liqui-Moly online oil guide.