Volvo is joining the ranks of other automakers by beginning to offer a dual-clutch gearbox to the masses. The new transmission, developed in cooperation with Getrag, features six-forward gears and reverse, and opts for a wet-clutch system like the first generation VW/Audi setup. Aside from the obvious performance advantages gained by quick shifts, Volvo estimates that fuel consumption will be reduced by around eight-percent.
The new setup can handle over 330 lb.-ft. of torque, something that has proved to be an issue with similar setups because of the small surface area of both clutches. When Volvo's Powershift transmission debuts, it will initially be equipped on the C30, S40 and V50 fitted with the 2.0-liter turbo diesel. There was no mention of what models in the U.S. could benefit from the new 'box or when it might be available here in the States.
Volvo's full press release is posted after the jump.
INTRODUCING VOLVO POWERSHIFT – SMOOTH, POWERFUL AND FUEL EFFICIENT
* Automatic sequential six-speed transmission
* Twin wet clutches for fast and smooth changes
* Over 47 mpg and less than 160 g/km CO2
* Optimised for powerful diesel engines
The new Volvo automatic Powershift transmission will be available to order from late February on the 136PS two-litre turbodiesel versions of the Volvo C30, S40 and V50 with a recommended retail price of £1,250. This new Powershift six-speed unit features twin wet clutches to provide the gear changing comfort of a fully-automatic transmission with the performance of a manual gearbox.
Operating as two parallel manual gearboxes, Powershift has twin wet clutches that work independently of one another. One clutch controls the odd gears (1, 3, 5 and reverse) while the other handles the even ratios (2, 4 and 6). The two clutches operate alternately with one engaging while the other disengages, like a slip clutch. This means that at the same time as the engine gets full power and maximum thrust in first gear, second gear is placed ready to be engaged. And when second gear has been engaged, third gear is readied, and so on. This gives a continuous flow of power without any disruption in power delivery or any torque loss. This results in extremely fast and smooth gear changes whilst maintaining acceleration allowing 0-60mph to be reached in nine seconds in the Volvo C30, 9.1 seconds in the S40 and 9.2 seconds in the V50 and boasts a top speed of 127mph in all three models.
Apart from gear changing comfort and high performance, Powershift also contributes to delivering improved fuel efficiency. The Powershift Automatic offers an impressive combined fuel consumption of 47.1mpg and a CO2 figure of 159g/km in both the Volvo S40 and V50; while it brings the Volvo C30 47.9mpg on a combined cycle and a CO2 figure of 156g/km.
"Lower fuel consumption allied to increased comfort and higher performance sounds like an impossible equation. But with Powershift we have shown this is perfectly possible," says Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Volvo Cars.
Automatic or sequential gearchanging without any loss in torque
Powershift gives the driver an automatic transmission that permits sequential gearchanges, just like with Volvo's Geartronic transmission. The difference is that with Powershift even manual gearchanges take place without any time or power losses. Also, unlike a conventional automatic transmission, Powershift does not need a torque converter, planetary gears or multiple wet clutches, there is also none of the added torque losses that these features bring.
Optimal choice for powerful diesel engines
Thanks to the use of twin wet clutches, the Powershift transmission can handle high torque levels and in principle has no limitations on choice of ratio. This makes it an ideal partner for today's powerful diesel engines. The version of Powershift that Volvo is now launching is dimensioned to handle torque levels up to 450 Nm. In the versions of the Volvo C30, S40 and V50 in which it is fitted, Powershift is mated to the 2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel which delivers a power output of 136 PS and 320 Nm of torque.