Toyota promises to make more palatable CVT

The company has designed an automatic-CVT cross.

Toyota promises it has found a way to tone down the elasticity of a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The new gearbox will make its debut in the 2018 Auris and gradually spread to other members of its lineup.

Cars equipped with a CVT tend to deliver droning, rubber band-like acceleration. In a bid to mask that at least partially, Toyota designed a launch gear with a "direct shift" function that delivers 20 percent quicker shifts, according to Australian website Motoring.

"Instead of the first gear ratio with a CVT, we use a direct gear drive train as a first gear. After that, from the first gear shift to the second gear shift, the ratio changes from direct gear shift to CVT," said Toyota chief engineer Tatsuro Ueda. In other words, the transmission behaves like a conventional automatic at launch. It switches to CVT operation when it shifts into what would be, in a normal automatic, second gear.

The solution sounds complicated but it's worth it, according to Ueda. It makes the next-generation Auris (pictured) more driver-friendly and it saves fuel.

We don't know whether we'll get the improved CVT in America. The Euro-spec Auris shown in Geneva last week replaces a model we know as the Corolla iM here. Toyota hasn't commented on the model's future in America. But even if the hatchback isn't long for this world, the gearbox could become available in some of the brand's other cars.

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