How many gears are enough? While it seems that six-speed automatic transmissions are just now becoming the de facto standard in most circles, Mercedes-Benz has been working with seven ratios for a while now and Lexus did its German rival one better by designing its own eight-speed. Not content to sit idle while other marques earn bragging rights, Audi and BMW have recently utilized eight-speeders of their own for their latest flagship models.

Citing unnamed sources within Audi, the crew at Inside Line are suggesting that the automaker will spread the eight-gear love across its model line, including even the lowly entry-level A3 hatchback with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four. Why all those gears? More ratios to choose from generally equals quicker and smoother acceleration along with increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

As an aside, we're not quite sure where the law of diminishing returns will intersect with the desire for performance and bragging rights when it comes to automatic transmissions. In other words, what are the chances that we'll someday see nine or 10-speed gearboxes in luxury cars? Time will tell.

[Source: Inside Line]