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In the quest to find a new car, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. Questions about cargo room, technology, options, luxuries and other various elements will come up more than a few times while shopping for a new car. However, from the car driver’s perspective, there are just three main questions: How comfortable is the driving experience? How fun is it to drive? How good is the car on fuel?
A major factor in answering those three questions has to do with the right transmission. Let’s face it, manual transmissions aren’t for everyone. They require familiarity and a level of perfection to get just right. With a traditional automatic transmission, drivers have been able to experience a fairly comfortable, yet less engaging experience. Still, an automatic transmission can leave any driving enthusiast unsatisfied. Luckily, progress has been made in the world of automatic transmissions that can help alleviate those woes.
New high-tech automatic to deliver quick shifts for dynamic driving, plus 40 mpg highway
Ford is excited to announce the start of production for its new six-speed PowerShift dual clutch transmission, set to appear in the new Fiesta, is now underway. “Who cares,” you’re most likely thinking. Well, this little transmission is actually quite a big deal for several reasons, like fuel economy and performance.
The dual clutch system Ford is using allows for shifts that are far quicker than a typical automatic while also optimizing fuel economy. In fact, Ford estimates this new transmission, when paired with the Fiesta’s 1.6-liter 4-cylinder will help deliver 40 mpg on the highway – which will likely give the Fiesta best-in-class fuel economy. This isn’t really surprising as the Fiesta will be the first vehicle in the sub-compact segment with a dual-clutch setup, as well as the first sub-compact with a six-speed automatic.
The advantages of the high-tech tranny are summarized by PowerShift development team leader Piero Aversa, who says that, “We believe this new automatic transmission for the Fiesta will be the most advanced in the segment, offering far better performance than our competitors. It’s an advanced gearbox that reduces complexity, saves weight, increases responsiveness and performance – all while helping keep the engine in its peak efficiency mode – resulting in class-leading fuel economy.”
In an effort to be a fuel economy leader, Ford is committed to offering six-speed transmissions in 85 percent of its vehicles by the end of the year, with 100 percent of Ford vehicles offered with a six-speed by 2013.
“Ford’s advanced new six-speed automatic transmissions will really surprise our customers, and our competitors,” said Barb Samardzich, VP of Powertrain Development. “They provide the convenience of traditional automatics with fuel economy leadership, as well as responsive performance and driving dynamics that make these cars fun to drive. And we’re adding six-speed transmissions to our most accessible vehicles, not just our luxury offerings and high-performance models.”
Transmission production at Ford’s facility in Irapuato, Mexico has just begun and is slated to get much busier later this year when the team there also starts production of a new PowerShift six-speed transmission for the new Ford Focus.
GALLERY: 2011 Ford Fiesta
Official release after the jump:
When Ford showcased the Lincoln C Concept at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, we commented that we’d love to see a model from the blue oval that used such a dual-clutch transmission. Apparently we will be getting out wish.
Ford has just announced that in 2010 it will bring a six-speed dual-clutch transmission to market in the small-car segment. Operating much like VW’s DSG system, Ford is highlighting the fuel-efficiency of the new PowerShift transmission, although it will also make for improved performance, offering shift times faster than a manual but operating much like a automatic (with, we presume, the ability to shift gears manually through paddle shifters).
Instead of re-hashing the press release, we’ll let the Ford PR folks do the talking as they managed to quite succinctly sum up how the system works.
“PowerShift provides the full comfort of an automatic with a more sophisticated driving dynamic, thanks to uninterrupted torque from the dual-clutch technology, which consists essentially of two manual transmissions working in parallel, each with its own independent clutch unit. One clutch carries the uneven gears – 1, 3 and 5 – while the other the even gears – 2, 4 and 6. Subsequent gear changes are coordinated between both clutches as they engage and disengage for a seamless delivery of torque to the wheels.”
Currently Ford offers a similar setup in the Focus in Europe. That transmission is, however, a wet clutch dual-clutch system whereas the PowerShift will be a dry clutch unit.
The PowerShift dual-clutch transmission is just one way that Ford intends to significantly reduce overall fuel-consumption as the company plans to equip all of it’s models with six-speed transmissions by 2013.
While dual-clutch transmissions have both fuel economy and performance advantages, Ford has designed its PowerShift unit with several other unique features. They are:
• Neutral coast down – The clutches will disengage when the brakes are applied, improving coasting downshifts and clutch robustness as well as reducing parasitic losses for increased fuel economy.
• Precise clutch control in the form of a clutch slip to provide torsional damping of the engine vibration – This function improves noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) at low engine speeds and enables lower lugging limits for improved fuel economy.
• Low-speed driving or creep mode with integrated brake pressure – This function simulates the low-speed control drivers are accustomed to from an automatic transmission. The amount of rolling torque in Drive and Reverse is precisely controlled, gradually building as brake pressure is released.
• Hill mode or launch assist – Prevents a vehicle from rolling back on a grade by maintaining brake pressure until the engine delivers enough torque to move the vehicle up the hill, providing improved driver confidence, comfort, safety and clutch robustness.
Official release after the jump: