The Great Evolution of Gears: automatically smooth and fuel-efficient

Hyundai Gears interior

When buying a new car, selecting gearboxes don’t rank highly on the list of influences that attract buyers. Most only touch upon this in the decision of the choice between manual or automatic transmission.

However just like a car’s chassis, engine and steering, the transmission is one of the unsung fundamental heroes that all drivers rely on each time they get behind the wheel. Additional features such as climate control, heated seats and great audio systems may make journeys more enjoyable, but without the gearbox, that journey is over before it even begins.

The transmission is an essential part of any vehicle

The transmission is one of the most complicated and intricate components in any vehicle, it is perhaps 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 historically oldest and straightforward type still in use is manual, which uses the clutch pedal to connect and disconnect the engine with the transmission when the gears are changed. Fundamentally, it is a 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 the car into a different gear.

Automatic transmission requires no clutch, instead of 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.

Hyundai interior

Hyundai Motor's EcoShift dual clutch transmission

Due to Hyundai's continuous research and development of new systems and technologies Hyundai Motor has developed: the EcoShift dual clutch transmission. This was designed firstly for racing, the dual clutch delivers quick, responsive shifts, merging 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 percent compared to a conventional six-gear automated transmission, while acceleration performance can be increased by up to 10 percent.

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. As 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.

Many Hyundai models, engines, and transmission responses 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 sports mode, which adjusts engine and transmission control for enhanced vehicle performance, giving you a more dynamic feel in response.

i30 Consumption Data*

Petrol 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

*Depending on trim and tyre specifications.