Honda has unveiled a dazzling array of new technical innovations - including the world’s first 10-speed automatic, a 1.0-litre VTEC turbo engine, a PHEV that can run in EV mode on the highway and an all new Fuel Cell Vehicle with a range of 700km - at a special briefing at its R&D centre in Tochigi, Japan.
The new 10-speed auto may not be the end of the “how many cogs is perfect” argument - Ford has already patented an 11-speed gearbox - but it does prove that dual-clutch systems aren’t the be-all and end-all, yet.
Honda says “10” is the perfect number to produce a mix of exhilarating acceleration and quiet, quality cruising, and compares a transmission to a piano keyboard; you can have a little organ at home (ahem…) but you don’t get the full experience without the keys of a grand one.
Its all-new design features four planetary gear-sets and, despite having four more gears, it’s the same overall length as the six-speed Honda transmission it replaces.
We tried the 10-speed out in a V6 Acura RLX on Honda’s test track and it was quiet and silky smooth out of the pits, but soon displayed its real party trick - impressive and thrusty kickdown.
Watching the gears drop from 10th to 4th in the blink of an eye - Honda says its shifts take just 750-milliseconds - is impressive, but it’s the power delivery that will widen your eyes.
All this comes with a claimed six percent improvement in fuel economy. The only downside we discovered seems to be that if you switch to manual mode and drive the paddles, you soon get frustrated by just how many gears there are.
Or you could just leave it in Drive, which most people surely will.
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