• May 12, 2008

As we reported last month, it appears BMW and Audi, following the lead of Lexus, will begin to offer eight-speed automatic transmissions in their flagship models. Sources are now saying the transmission will be supplied by ZF Friedrichshafen, a familiar German supplier to both marques. Although we don't know all of the specifics, Audi is expected to debut the new slushbox in the range-topping A8 sedan, Q7 SUV, and their future A7 premium model. BMW will likely debut the new gearbox in their premium 7-Series sedan and the X6 Sport Activity Vehicle, according to company sources.

The current Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series both use six-speed automatics. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class utilizes a seven-speed automatic of their own design, while Lexus debuted their eight-speed transmission in the LS 460. Increasing the number of forward gears offers advantages in smoothness, acceleration, and improves fuel efficiency. Lower fuel consumption equates to reduced emissions, helping the powerful models meet increasingly stringent air quality standards in Europe and the United States.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]



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  • 47 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thanks for the heads up. I never wish to own another ZF automatic transmission (I own one currently), and now I know another set of cars to avoid.
        • 6 Years Ago
        HP24 in my Audi A6 is crap.
        Brother's HP24 in his VW Passat is crap.
        Co-worker's HP24 in his VW Passat had to be replaced in under 12 months, and the replacement shifts worse than the old one.
        Co-worker's HP24 in his Land Rover Disco 2 had to be replaced in under 9 months. New one is actually fine.

        Coworker's Warner (Aisin I think, perhaps Borg) in his V70 locked up in his garage. He had to have the car dragged out and towed away.

        I'm convinced the Germans just don't don't understand how to make a hydramatic transmission. With the possible exclusion of Mercedes, but then again a co-worker had to replace his 5-speed E500 with a 7-speed E500 (next model year) and the new tranny shifted like crap from day 1.
        • 6 Years Ago
        eh?

        why's that?

        which transmission was it?

        I have a 335i and I'm loving the auto

        care to share your experience?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why wouldn't a CV transmission be advantagous to these multi-speed trans?
        • 6 Years Ago
        The continuous droning of a CVT drive me nuts.

        Call me "old school", but I like the sound of the gears changing.....changing 8 times.....well I don't know about that.
        • 6 Years Ago
        From what I understand, CVTs are limited by the amount of torque they can handle.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't understand the purpose of 8 plus gears on cars. If you're going to put this sort of gearing in the car then make it so the car is under 2k rpms at 80 mph or so to really help improve fuel efficiency.

      I don't understand the point of these gearboxes if they don't improve performance or efficiency. Thus...what is the point?
        • 6 Years Ago
        They DO improve performance AND efficiency. Greater gear spread allows for quicker power delivery and lower cruise RPM.
        And where is MikeW?
        • 6 Years Ago
        The part you don't understand is the part where you have to accelerate to 80 mph. The more gears in between zero and eighty mph, the better fuel economy that will be realized over that speed range, all else held equal.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Whats funny is that my 2004 Toyota Sienna with 90,000 miles gets about 2400-2600 rpm's when I'm going 80-83mph.. I love it.. man an 8 speed on the sienna would be a better gas saver.. People ask why should there be more? But shouldn't you ask why not?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't know about the Lexus 8-speed transmission, but published reports say the Toyota/Lexus 5-speed is a poor performer and their 6-speed has proven to be very unreliable. It will be a costly repair when the warranty is up.

      If Toyota can't design and build reliable transmissions, heaven help Audi and BMW owners.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They need the big slushboxes on the flagships or otherwise they would be getting 10mpg, instead of 18mpg. It's just highway fuel efficiency.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lol its like the razor companies all over.

      "Hey, how do we make this better?" "Well... add more blades!"
      • 6 Years Ago
      Nice, but won't Lexus come out with a 10-speed the year after then? You know how they wanna be "superior" and all...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm one of the ones unsure about the need for so many gears on an engine with a 6-8,000rpm redline. I thought the point of multiple gears was to take advantage of a narrow torque band, such as those found on a diesel engine. The concept of increasing the torque band and increasing the number of gears is a bit confusing to me. Maybe someone can explain it simply, rather than "it's smoother", "you get better fuel economy".
        • 6 Years Ago
        A higher redline may allow you to achieve highway speeds with fewer gears, but revving at 6000rpm is NOT good for economy, regardless of load on the engine. The additional gears are to bring down rpm's on the highway. You need low gears for accelerating from a start, and you can only make the rpm gap so large between gears before the car becomes awkward to drive so more gears are needed to fill in the gaps. Opinion varies about how many are needed before you get too much because drive line loss increases with extra gears.
      • 6 Years Ago
      uhh, lexus with their "obsession" would be utilising a 9-speed gearbox soon if it continues like this...

      back in the days it was like 4 speed, now 5/6 speed are common and more on the way (manual)... but making more gears for automatics seems logical to me, because you wouldn't want to shift something like 5 gears to get to 100km/h in a manual car...

      If in the next decade we see 10speed gearbox to travel to 100km/h I'm pretty sure it's possible to skip some speeds since the ratios should be pretty close together... I don't know.

      I'm wondering would more gears take up more space and more weight?
      • 6 Years Ago
      So I take it in the future we will see 100-speed transmissions and 10,000 horsepower cars as the norm?
      • 6 Years Ago
      CVTs are less efficient due to the belts that are typically employed, and traditional automatics can take more overall torque. Both are important in the high line cars where cost is not the main concern.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Carlos, most CVT's lose more power *in the transmission* than a traditional automatic. There is plenty of fluid inside the CVT, in addition to high pressure pumps (much higher pressure than an automatic).
        Carlos
        • 6 Years Ago
        Quite the opposite, CVTs are more efficient than automatic gear boxes for a couple of reasons. Automatics have to deal with turning fluids which more power is lost in that than turning belts, and CVTs are able to keep an engine at its most efficient RPM over at most speeds where as an automatic cannot because of its limited number of gears.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dident Lexus introduce the 8 Speed in this newest redesign of the LS which was less than 2 years ago? It was developed specifically to go with the new V8.
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