Are transmissions a new battlefront in the war for customers amongst high end brands? Mercedes has been doing seven ratios for a little while, and Lexus has a new 8-cogger on offer, too. BMW's not content to be trailing with just 6 speeds, so the new 7-series (F01) will reportedly ship with an 8-speed automatic transmission. If high fuel prices and tightening emissions and consumption requirements manage to snuff out our recent horsepower battles, gear ratios are all we'll have left.

BMW's 8-speed fits in the same space as the old 6-speed, and is said to be smoother and more efficient than the outgoing gearbox. Perhaps more important than the greater ratio spread and increased fuel economy that the new transmission will bring is the shifter moves back to the console (cue choir of heavenly angels). Expect the new 8-speed and its modular design to wind up in many BMW vehicles after its initial launch in the upcoming 7-series.

[Source: Bimmerfile, Photo: Bimmerfile]