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Geneva show: Range Rover Evoque goes nine-speed

Extra ratio: The chic Range Rover Evoque will be the first production vehicle with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Nine-speed ZF automatic transmission for Range Rover Evoque from 2014

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Land Rover logo28 Feb 2013

THE Range Rover Evoque is set to become the first car sold in Australia with a nine-speed automatic transmission when deliveries start in January 2014.

Developed in collaboration with German supplier ZF, the torque converter transmission will replace the previous six-ratio unit and will be available across the complete petrol and diesel range.

The first nine-speed Evoque will be on display at the Geneva motor show that kicks off March 5, before production starts later this year in preparation for the 2014 model year.

Range Rover claims the transmission improves both fuel economy and acceleration by making better use of the engine’s power and torque bands, while the taller final ratio allows for quiet and more refined freeway cruising.

Said to feature shifts so smooth and swift as to be “below the threshold of perception”, the transmission is also claimed to bring improvements to the Evoque’s already surprising off-road abilities by offering an extra-low ratio for crawling.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) acted as principal partner on the project, and said this week that the transmission had been developed for wider use in transverse applications.

Don't expect to see it in the larger Discovery or Range Rover flagship any time soon though, since both of those cars feature longitudinal layouts. The only other Land Rover product with a transverse layout is the Freelander, but there is no word on whether the new automatic will be fitted.

Both the Discovery and Range Rover use ZF eight-speed units which are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, so the progression to a ninth ratio comes as little surprise as car-makers explore every avenue to cut fuel use and emissions.

As reported last year, arch enemies Ford and General Motors are understood to be collaborating on nine- and ten-speed units, while South Korean giant is also working on its own in-house ten-speeder.

But with this reveal, Indian-owned, British-based Land Rover and its supplier ZF have beaten all three to the production punch. The nine-speed unit is produced in South Carolina, and will be sent to JLR's UK production line.

Unlike the old sequential-shifting six-speed unit, the new nine-speeder has a skip-shift function that quickens downshifts under deceleration. Also, the torque converter incorporates a multi-stage damper system for smoother pulling away and better refinement.

Rather than change 'character' via a switch or dial, the new transmission features an 'adaptive shifting' system that approximates various driving 'modes'. The transmission adjusts into a sporty or economical setting by detecting driver input and reacting accordingly.

According to Land Rover global brand director John Edwards, the new transmission will add a new dimension to the already well-received Evoque.

“We are extremely excited about the 9HP which has been tailored exactly to dovetail with the unique attributes of our vehicles,” he said. “It will add another layer of performance, refinement and efficiency, further enhancing Land Rover's world class abilities.”

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