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Kia launching new eight speed transmission

Kia launching new eight speed transmission

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Done right, more gears means a smoother ride and better gas mileage. The balance between too many gears and not enough seems to be somewhere between six and nine with different automakers opting for different numbers. Kia have taken their time switching from six to eight but from what we have seen so far, it is well worth the wait.

The Korean automaker announced last week that development of a new eight speed automatic transmission was being launched soon. Their current eight speed unit only works in rear wheel drive cars. Given that a good portion of their lineup is front wheel drive, that meant many cars had to stick with six. Now, with this new transmission, eight speeds will soon be available to front wheel drive cars too.

Unusually, Kia designed and developed this transmission themselves. Usually, an automaker will either put a transmission out to tender or buy an existing one from a specialist manufacturer. Kia have done all the hard work themselves and acquired 143 patents for the technology while they were doing it.

Highlights of the new Kia transmission
There has been quite a bit of innovation put into this new box. Kia have had to work hard to squeeze all those extra gears into a smaller space up front and seem to have succeeded.
Here is an explainer video of the new transmission.

The new eight speed is 3.5kg lighter and smaller than the six speed that usually sits in its place. It also uses fewer control valves and a smaller oil pump than a typical transmission. Both of these elements are where power and speed of the shift are won and lost. Mostly lost in typical auto boxes.

One constant complaint about automatic transmissions is shift lag. Where a transmission seems to take a few seconds to think about a shift before doing it. Kia says that their mechanical improvements reduce this lag drastically, which could have far-reaching ramifications for not just Kia, but the entire automotive sector.

We will see this new transmission in the 2017 Kia Cadenza and then it will be rolled out into other vehicles in their FWD lineup as time goes on. When we get some time in the new Cadenza we will spend a little more time than usual assessing shift times and smoothness. While we have no doubt that the Kia engineers have delivered what they promised, it’s always good to see for ourselves.

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