Land Rover has stepped its transmission game up with a new nine-speed gearbox that it says will bestow its vehicles with better fuel economy and improved driving dynamics. The guys at Fifth Gear are probably feeling a tiny bit inadequate right now.
“Why would a car possibly need nine gears,” you may conceivably ask. Improved efficiency, mainly. The new gearbox, developed by South Carolina-based transmission experts ZF, has a higher top gear that reduces engine revs at higher speeds. This boosts fuel economy, reduces emissions and makes the cabin a less noisy, more comfortable place to be.
The new 9-speed 9HP should, theoretically, improve driving dynamics. More gear ratios likely means gear changes are less noticeable. According to ZF, upshifts are “below the threshold of perception.”
An adaptive shifting system allows the ZF 9HP to react according to the driver’s ‘mood’. By default, the system delivers a smooth, economical shifting style. However it is able to recognise the driver’s pedal position and whether the car is in the middle of a bend and will delay upshifts if it thinks you’re mid-hoon.
The ZF 9HP promises improved downshifting thanks to a ‘fast-off’ mode that should mean it won’t totally ignore your requests for a gear change, as many automatic transmissions have a tendency to do. If the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal quickly and requests a downshift when the vehicle is travelling too quickly, it will remember the request and change down a gear when the speed drops to a safe level.
It also has a skip-shift feature that allows it to miss a gear during downshifts under rapid deceleration.
“We are extremely excited about the 9HP which has been tailored exactly to dovetail with the unique attributes of our vehicles. It will add another layer of performance, refinement and efficiency, further enhancing Land Rover’s world class abilities,” said John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director.