With the 2013 Accord, Honda made the surprise move of offering a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to help maximize fuel economy. Hitting higher mpg targets is, however, just one goal for the Japanese automaker and a new dual-clutch unit is on its way to help maintain the brand’s fun-to-drive reputation.
At the recent “Honda Meeting” in Japan where journalists were given a chance to test out future product, two 7-speed dual-clutch transmissions (DCTs) were made available to test, one for small cars and one for larger, more powerful cars.
The latter will make its appearance in the upcoming 2014 Acura RLX, while the former is a newer unit that came mated to a hybrid powerplant. Honda claims that compared to the current Integrated Motor Assist 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid it uses in cars like the CR-Z and Civic Hybrid, the new version mated to the DCT (called Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive or i-DCD for short) will deliver a 15 percent improvement in acceleration and a 30 percent increase in fuel economy.
Speaking to reporters at the company’s R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan, R&D Director Yoshiharu Yamamoto commented that the system, “is not just for hybrids” and confirmed it can be combined with regular engines in sportier vehicles.
Further elaborating, Senior Managing Director of Honda R&D Co., Toshihiko Nonaka confirmed that while a CVT is the, “ultimate solution for fuel economy,” a “DCT is a chance to inject sportiness.”
Showcased in a Fit test mule (above), the i-DCD powertain could easily be fitted to cars like the CR-Z, Insight and Civic Hybrid, while the 7-speed DCT could likely also be fitted to other non-hybrid models, like the Acura ILX or even the Civic Si for added fuel economy and performance.