The evolution of gears: automatically smooth and fuel-efficient

- When it comes to selecting a new car, gearboxes don’t rank highly on the list of factors that attract buyers. For many it’s only touched upon in the choice between manual or automatic transmission.

Yet, like a car’s chassis, engine and steering, the transmission is one of the unsung essentials that all drivers rely on every time they get behind the wheel. Features like climate control, heated seats and great audio systems might make the journey more comfortable, but without the gearbox, that journey is over before it’s even begun.

The transmission is an essential part of any vehicle

Given that the transmission is one of the most complicated components in any vehicle, it is perhaps forgivable that it is the least thought about or understood. In layman’s terms, think of it as the intermediary that transmits the rotational power generated by an engine to the drive axle, which makes your car’s wheels turn and moves it forwards or backwards.

The transmission also ensures that the right amount of power goes to the wheels when driving at any given speed. For example, in low ranges, it provides more power and less speed; in high ranges, it provides less power and more speed. This reduces the load on the engine and increases the vehicle’s speed and fuel efficiency.

Manual or automatic?

The oldest and simplest type still in use is manual, which uses a clutch pedal to connect and disconnect the engine to the transmission when the driver changes between gears. Essentially, it is a much more powerful and complex version of a bicycle’s gear shifter: pushing down on the clutch pedal and adjusting the gear stick has the same effect as moving the bicycle chain, changing your car into a new gear.

Automatic transmission does away with the clutch, instead using a torque converter that detects the change in power as you accelerate and shifts the car from a lower to a higher gear (doing the reverse when you press the brake and slow down). It offers a simpler driving experience, but can be less fuel efficient and more costly to repair than a manual.

The New Generation i30 features a seven-speed dual clutch transmission

Hyundai Motor's EcoShift dual clutch transmission

As it continually researches and develops new systems and technologies to improve driving experience, Hyundai Motor has developed a third option: the EcoShift dual clutch transmission. Originally designed for racing, the dual clutch delivers quick, responsive shifts, while its state of the art technology combines the convenience of an automatic transmission with the efficiency and shift characteristics of a manual transmission.

Hyundai Motor introduced its first double-clutch transmission in 2015, and today it is available on the New Generation i30 and the forthcoming i30 Tourer. The i30's specially-developed 7-Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) adds an extra dynamic accent with optimised fuel efficiency. Shifting between gears is extremely fast, smooth and enjoyable. It also lowers CO2 emissions by up to 20 per cent compared to a conventional six-gear automated transmission, while acceleration performance can be increased by up to 10 per cent.

The EcoShift dual clutch works by operating a set of gears with two separate clutches, hence its name. One clutch operates the odd-numbered gears, and the other operates the even-numbered gears, enabling quick, automatic shifting with almost no fluctuation of drive power.

Because the dual clutch is unlike a traditional automatic transmission, the driving characteristics might feel a little different. It doesn’t incorporate a torque converter like a conventional automatic, so gear shifts are sometimes a little more noticeable when accelerating from a stop, and because the dual clutch transfers power more efficiently, it can have a direct drive feeling that is different than a conventional automatic transmission. This may be more noticeable when travelling at lower speeds, such as in stop and go traffic.

In many Hyundai models, engine and transmission response can be set to suit a person’s driving style. For example, for maximum fuel efficiency, you can switch from normal mode to eco mode, which directs your vehicle to operate in the most efficient ways possible.

As a result, your acceleration response is likely to be more gradual, which is a key strategy for saving fuel. On the other hand, if you prefer more spirited driving performance, you can select sport mode, which adjusts engine and transmission control for enhanced vehicle performance, giving you a more dynamic feel in response.

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i30 Consumption Data*

Gasoline Engines

1.4 MPI (100 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 5.6 - 5.4 l/100 km; urban: 6.8 - 6.6 l/100 km; extra-urban: 4.9 - 4.8 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 130 - 126 g/km
1.0 T-GDi (120 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 5.0 - 4.5 l/100 km; urban: 5.8 - 5.4 l/100 km; extra-urban: 4.6 - 4.0 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 115 - 103 g/km
 1.4 T-GDi (140 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 5.5 - 4.8 l/100 km; urban: 6.6 - 5.9 l/100 km; extra-urban: 5.0 - 4.1 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 125 - 109 g/km

Diesel Engines

1.6 CRDi (95 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 3.8 - 3.6 l/100 km; urban: 4.1 – 4.0 l/100 km; extra-urban: 3.6 - 3.5 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 98 - 95 g/km
1.6 CRDi (110 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 4.1 - 3.4 l/100 km; urban: 4.4 – 3.8 l/100 km; extra-urban: 3.9 - 3.2 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 109 - 89 g/km
1.6 CRDi (136 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 4.1 - 3.8 l/100 km; urban: 4.4 - 4.2 l/100 km; extra-urban: 3.9 - 3.6 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 109 - 99 g/km

*Depending on trim and tire specifications.