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For the 2011 model year, many of Audi's B8 platform vehicles with all-wheel-drive will join the Q7 in getting a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The quattro-equipped A4 sedan, A5 coupe and Q5 crossover with the 2.0-liter TFSI inline-four will all swap a six-speed for the new transmission. The front-wheel-drive and V6-engined Audis will retain the continuously variable transmissions or six-speed automatics they currently use. The ZF transmission will allow a wider total ratio spread for lo

As the need for fuel efficiency and the desire for power continue on unabated, automakers are looking for more ways to increase the performance of their powertrains. Many times, we focus in on the engine as it holds the most promise for huge efficiency gains. There's more to eking out the best mileage possible, though, including making transmission adjustments. Mercedes-Benz has moved forward with seven gear ratios and Lexus has upped the ante with an eight-speed unit. BMW looks ready to follow

In the name of increased efficiency, and quite possibly playing the game of automotive one-upmanship, luxury automakers such as Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus have been adding more and more gear ratios to their automatic transmissions. By allowing a computer to choose the most appropriate ratio for any given scenario, the vehicle's engine is required to only make as much power as absolutely necessary, potentially saving fuel in the process. ZF, one of the largest transmission makers in the world,