It will debut in the 2017 Cadenza

Kia’s recent advancements in the auto business have included not just more refined vehicles, but new technologies too. After four years of hard work, the South Korean automaker has unveiled its very own eight-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel drive cars. Developed using the experience it gained during the creation of the eight-cog unit for rear-wheel drive vehicles, the new gearbox is ready to hit the road and will do so in the 2017 Cadenza.

To be offered as a no-cost option with the 3.3-liter V-6 engine, the transmission will soon find its way into other front-wheel-drive Kia models in the future, but the company has yet to nominate them.

About the same size as a conventional six-speed automatic, the new eight-speed is said to be 3.5 kg (7.7 pounds) lighter than its old counterpart. The unit also features the smallest oil pump in any gearbox in its class, and an incorporated direct control valve body and increased capacity of the solenoid valves, thus reducing the number of control valves from 20 to 12. All of the above, paired with the additional clutch compared to the previous six-speed auto, improve fuel efficiency and gear shifting. The latter will also deliver faster acceleration.

In all, Kia patented 143 new technologies for this transmission, which is surprisingly compact, meaning it will fit in a wide range of vehicles. For now, the eight-speed is being prepared for the company’s mid- and full-size passenger cars.

Keep reading for the full story.

Why it Matters

Creating a brand-new transmission from scratch is far from easy, and even though Kia has already developed an eight-speed gearbox, the new unit was more challenging to build since front-wheel-drive cars need more compact drivetrain components. On paper, it appears as if Kia managed to put together an efficient eight-cog that will improve both performance and fuel economy, but it remains to be seen if this is the case when the new transmission makes its debut on public roads. Meanwhile, we have to give Kia credit for developing its own gearbox rather than sourcing parts and patents from other automakers.

Press Release

Advanced transmission developed in-house for front-wheel drive models
Intelligent packaging ensures lighter weight and similar dimensions as a conventional six-speed automatic transmission
143 new patents filed throughout development of advanced transmission
Kia Motors has revealed details of its advanced new eight-speed automatic transmission (8AT), engineered for use in front-wheel drive vehicles.

The new front-wheel drive 8AT (FWD 8AT) has been developed in-house by the Korean manufacturer, engineered to offer a high level of mechanical efficiency and smooth gearshifts. Crucially, the new FWD 8AT occupies the same space as a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, and weighs 3.5 kg less.

Kia’s engineers already have experience of developing eight-speed transmissions for rear-wheel drive vehicles, mounting the transmission longitudinally and sending power to the rear axle. However, incorporating the same number of gears into a front-wheel drive car is incredibly challenging, due to packaging constraints and the need to mount the transmission transversely, competing with the engine, suspension and auxiliary components for space under the bonnet.

Intelligent packaging and 143 new patented technologies

Under development since 2012, the development program for the breakthrough transmission led Kia to patent 143 new technologies to ensure a high level of performance and efficiency in a compact structure. This new transmission enables smooth acceleration from standstill, as well as greater fuel efficiency, improved NVH characteristics, and more decisive acceleration at high speeds than an automatic transmission with fewer gears.

To improve the 8AT’s fuel economy, Kia engineers significantly reduced the size of the oil pump (the main source of power loss in an automatic transmission) and simplified the structure of the valve body. Boasting the smallest oil pump of any production transmission in its class, the 8AT is able to use hydraulic oil more efficiently, distributing it evenly throughout the unit at all times.

Development teams also incorporated a direct control valve body to allow solenoid control of the clutch directly, rather than via several control valves. This enabled Kia to reduce the number of control valves from 20 to 12, resulting in quicker gear shifts, a more direct mechanical link to the engine and improved packaging.

Incorporating an additional clutch and gear over the existing 6AT, the ratio between the top gear and the lowest gear in the new transmission has been increased by 34 per cent over the 6AT, resulting in greater fuel economy and improved NVH in higher gears and faster acceleration and climbing performance in low gears.

Transmission to debut in all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza

Kia’s new front-wheel drive 8AT is making its global debut in the 2017 Kia Cadenza – on sale across selected global markets this year – and is featured as standard on Cadenza models powered by the 3.3-liter V6 GDI engine.

Going forward, the new eight-speed automatic transmission will be applied to a number of mid-sized and larger front-wheel drive models, and will serve as a stepping stone to the development of future advanced transmissions.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: