Who Makes the Best Automatic Transmissions?
Speedshift? Dual-clutch? CVT? With recent advancements in technology, how can one decide with so many choices?
Most new cars sold today come with an automatic transmission. Indicitively, most sales are for the non-enthusiast. However there are two schools of thought when considering which is best amongst a plethora of options to choose from in the modern age of technology, efficiency, and automotive globalization.
The Enthusiast Choice
The enthusiast looks for more than just a fast car. They look for a driving experience, one of passion, intensity, and communicative feedback. It is important to address that a manual transmission is widely accepted to be a better option for this, but this is not an absolute truth. That is to say: Manual transmissions are not a prerequisite for a riveting enthusiast car, and the presence of an automatic does not immediately discredit the driving experience as a whole. Logically, you must accept that not everything can come with a six-speed stick shifter, just as not everything can have a roaring supercharged V8. It is just not realistic.
Having that said, reviews and research indicate that enthusiasts look for three things when choosing automatic transmissions. Quickness, intuition, and sound. Many have found the dual clutch gearbox to be a desirable choice, with instant shifting, thrilling acceleration, ease of use, and decent reliability. A great example of this is the Germans, who are known for making good enthusiast cars. See the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, or the Volkswagen Golf R, for instance. Both of these cars were praised for their contagious excitement and smoothness for daily driving. The dual-clutch also has been known to be a sweet-sounding alternative to the boring drone of a CVT.
If the dual-clutch is for you, consider anything from Volkswagen group. Virtually all performance cars from the automaker feature a dual-clutch gearbox. Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini have all moved away from most manual Transmissions in favor, and they have been doing it for a number of years longer than some of the more recent options from Hyundai and BMW.
The Average Buyer's Choice
If you really don't care too much about what you drive, there likely exists certain other criteria you should search for. Most often, the average consumer prefers three other attributes: Cheapness, reliability, and efficiency. Obviously, there is only one choice if you want to have the best in all three of these areas, and it is called the continuously variable transmission, or CVT for short. The CVT was deemed problematic when it was first launched (prematurely, thanks to Nissan rushing to get ahead of the competition) and many buyers were turned off by horror stories of failure at 60,000 miles or less. A complicated piece of tech, they were at first extremely costly to replace. Advances in manufacturing, design, and materials have led to a more robust and inexpensive CVT. Sorting out some of the early issues is a problem with all new technology, and thankfully the CVT is not new anymore. Almost all new cars sold to the masses feature a CVT. Additionally, they have been found to be over 10% more efficient than a conventional standard automatic transmission. If you don't mind a boring, lifeless drone of one, "infinite" gear change, the CVT pretty much checks every other box.