Audi to abandon CVT transmissions

ALMOST 15 years since Audi introduced the CVT ‘Multitronic’ transmission, what was seen as a highly advanced step towards the future is about to be no more.

Beginning with the Europe-only, front-drive A7 TDI Ultra launched this week, Audi will switch to a new-generation, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (which it calls S-tronic) for all its front-wheel-drive models with longitudinally mounted engines.

At present, the Multitronic CVT – introduced in the front-drive B6 A4 – is still fitted to front-drive variants of the A4, A4 Avant, A5 Sportback, A5 Coupe, A5 Cabriolet, A6 and A6 Avant, but as all-new or updated models roll out during 2015, the seven-speed S-tronic will take its place.

When Multitronic replaced Audi’s four-speed and five-speed ‘tiptronic’ automatics in Australia in 2001, it offered huge gains in both efficiency and performance.

However, Audi now claims its new seven-speed dual-clutch ’box is even more efficient than the continuously-variable transmission it will replace.

Despite having seven set ratios, the S-tronic can reduce engine revs at cruising speeds even further than the CVT, and can deliver equivalent performance to the punchy Multitronic in combination with improved efficiency.

The dual-clutch S-tronic is also a more inherently sporty transmission – mirroring Audi’s desire to continue bolstering its sports-luxury image, and its soaring global sales.

In the A7 TDI Ultra – a front-drive A7 featuring Audi’s new-generation 160kW/400Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 destined for our updated A7 in quattro form only – the seven-speed S-tronic helps the far-from-small A7 achieve 4.7L/100km on the combined fuel cycle, and reach 100km/h from rest in just 7.3 seconds.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.