Kia boffins boost auto from six to eight cogs

  • In-house development took Kia four years
  • Eight gears, lighter and smaller than a six
  • 143 patents filed during development
READY TO LAUNCH: Kia has developed an eight-speed gearbox that is smaller and lighter than a six. Image: Newspress/Kia Motors
READY TO LAUNCH: Kia has developed an eight-speed gearbox that is smaller and lighter than a six. Image: Newspress/Kia Motors

SEOUL, South Korea – Kia Motors has revealed details of an advanced new eight-speed automatic transmission for its front-wheel drive vehicles.

The ‘box has been developed in-house by the Korean automaker and engineered to offer excellent mechanical efficiency and smooth gearshifts. Its first installation will be in the 2017 Kia Cadenza

Crucially, it occupies the same space as a conventional six-speed auto yet is 3.5kg lighter.

READY TO LAUNCH: Kia has developed an eight-speed gearbox that is smaller and lighter than a six. Image: Newspress/Kia Motors
READY TO LAUNCH: Kia has developed an eight-speed gearbox that is smaller and lighter than a six. Image: Newspress/Kia Motors

Kia’s engineers have experience with eight-speed transmissions but for rear-wheel drive vehicles on which the ‘box is mounted longitudinally and sends power to the rear axle. However, the automaker says, putting the same number of gears into a front-wheel drive car was challenging because it required transverse installation, squeezed under the bonnet with the engine, suspension and auxiliary components.

WATCH a video explaining the technical details of the new Kia gearbox.

The gearbox has been under development since 2012 and on the journey Kia patented 143 technological developments to reach the required level of performance and efficiency in a compact structure.

This transmission, Kia says, enables smooth acceleration from standstill and reduces fuel consumption. It is also quieter and supplies “more decisive” acceleration at high speed than an autobox with fewer gears.

Reduced fuel consumption was achieved by significantly reducing the size of the oil pump (the main source of power loss in an autobox) and simplified the valve body. Oil pump is, the automaker says, the smallest of any transmission in its class yet uses hydraulic oil more efficiently and distributes it evenly at all times.

READ MORE Kia features on Carman’s Corner

The unit has only 12 control valves instead of the previous 20: the result, Kia says, is quicker gearshifts, a closer mechanical link to the engine and better overall packaging.

It has an extra clutch and gear compared to the existing 6AT and the ratio between top gear and first has been increased by 34%: the results are better fuel economy, quieter operation, faster acceleration and better ascent performance in low gears.

The ‘box, initially, will be standard on Kia Cadenza models powered by a 3.3-litre V6 GDI engine but will eventually appear in a number of mid-size and larger front-wheel drive models.

  • The Corner has asked Kia SA if, and when, the new gearbox will be available in South Africa.
READY TO LAUNCH: Kia has developed an eight-speed gearbox that is smaller and lighter than a six. Image: Newspress/Kia Motors
READY TO LAUNCH: Kia has developed an eight-speed gearbox that is smaller and lighter than a six. Image: Newspress/Kia Motors

 

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