Aug 21 2009 Ian Johnson
Powershift signals new era for automatics
ONE of the major pitfalls of an automatic transmission has been poor fuel economy when compared to a manual.
On older cars this was very marked because the traditional units used a lot of the power of the engine to work its mechanisms.
I have always been of the opinion that many more people would choose automatics if they were more fuel friendly and in recent times they have become a little more frugal.
But this week, Ford claims it has levelled the playing field for automatics with the launch of its new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission which, the company claims, delivers the performance and fuel economy of a manual gearbox with the comfort and convenience of an automatic.
The secret behind PowerShift's performance is the use of two electronically-controlled clutch units, which ensure seamless delivery of power to the wheels.
The two clutches each control what are effectively separate three-speed gearboxes.
The six-speed Ford PowerShift transmission is available with the advanced 136PS 2.0 TDCi diesel engine, and in a Ford Focus the pairing achieves 48.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 154g/km.
When you think of the old three speed transmissions that needed a hefty engine to drive them, often returning around 22mpg, the above figure is quite amazing even for a diesel.