It was just over ten years ago that we lost my favorite automotive writer of all time, LJK Setright. A classical musician, law student, and accomplished photographer, Setright is probably best known for the forged-steel certainty with which he promoted his iconoclast and contrarian beliefs.
In particular, he loved to chastise the auto industry for what he perceived as a reactionary attitude towards technology, turning his vitriol against targets as diverse as Mercedes-Benz (for retaining wooden wheels on some models well into the Thirties) and Jaguar (for 'ruining' the aerodynamic stability of the 1994 XJ6 with the round-headlight 1995 re-style). One of Setright's more controversial stances was his steadfast preference for the automatic transmission. This might not seem so outrageous in 2016, where everything from the BMW 3-Series wagon to the entire Ferrari lineup comes standard without a clutch pedal, but forty years ago the man stood more or less alone in the auto-journo world. He ridiculed the 'antiquated' manual transmission while noting that the arrival of synchromesh gearboxes took all the skill out of driving a stick anyway. A major percentage of his book Drive On is dedicated to arguing the superiority of the self-shifting, planetary-geared transmission.
Yet even that arrangement didn't quite satisfy Setright, although he was unstinting in his praise of Porsche's Seventies-era decision to equip the original 928 with a PRNDL gate as standard equipment. The man saved his highest praise for what he considered to be the only truly proper transmission design on the market: the continuously variable transmission, or CVT. If you, like most of the drivers out there, have only experienced the CVT as part of a relatively staid Japanese sedan like the Nissan Altima or Honda Civic, I doubt that you have any fondness for the idea. As implemented today, continuously variable transmissions are infamous for 'rubber-banding' and for a sort of discombobulating disconnection of engine noise from forward progress. Even when all the electronic buttons are in their most sporting positions, as was the case when I drove a rental Altima around Circuit Of The Americas last year in preparation for my test of the Lamborghini Huracan there, today's CVTs are uninspiring and unpleasant in equal measure. Yet this is the same transmission that was banned from Formula One before the first car so equipped, a 1993 prototype by Williams, turned a single lap in competition.
Fiat Scudo 2015 Repair Manual. The CFT30 is a Ford CVT transmission with both strengths and weaknesses. We cover some of the most common noises and their causes, so you can be prepared. For the ultimate in preventative maintenance, ask your Service Advisor for a complimentary Multi-Point Inspection every time you visit your participating Nissan dealer. See page 16 for more information on Multi-Point Inspections. 120 CVT, 130 CVT, 150 CVT, 170 CVT CVT120, CVT130, CVT150, CVT170 Tractors Repair Manual.
It's easy to see why: when tuned for competition purposes, a CVT allows the engine to produce maximum power at all times. This is an advantage far more significant than the friction losses suffered by a CVT in comparison to a traditional gearbox. There have been a few technical challenges standing in the way of using the CVT in sporting cars, but none of them could be considered even close to insurmountable.
No, the reason your Porsche or Corvette doesn't have one has nothing to do with technology. Rather, it's human nature that poses the problem. 'Car guys' want their sports car to sound like a sports car. They want the revs to rise and fall, they want the engine to audibly respond to their commands, and they want pretty much what they've always had in a performance car, with a wider cockpit and better mobile-phone integration. Faced with the reluctance of privilege-car drivers to accept the CVT, but also faced with soaring emissions and fuel economy standards, the manufacturers have chosen to give us the DCT instead. As transmission choices go, it's the second most repugnant one available. (The first most repugnant is the automated single-clutch system found in cars like the Ferrari F355 F1 and many Aston Martins.) The DCT is an exercise in unjustifiable complexity, packed chock-full of computers and sensors and moving parts and actuators and the like.
I don't know anybody who thinks that he or she can service a modern DCT. The five-speed manual in my Neon race car—or the six-speed manual in my Porsche 993—can be taken apart and fixed by anybody with a service manual. But these new transmissions have the computing power of a modern Airbus and if anything goes wrong the best-case scenario is that the car just decides to sit in neutral and go nowhere. The payoff for this hideously unreliable electro-mechanical superstructure lowered unsteadily onto the century-old manual transmission? Well, you don't have to know how to use a clutch pedal, and you don't have to slow down while shifting.