10 Speeds. That’s how many gears you can expect in the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The new automatic transmission is based off the Hydra-Matic eight-speed transmission found in other sixth generation Camaro, and Chevrolet has made the bold claim, which is backed by General Motors testing, that:
the ZL1 with the available 10-speed has faster shift times than the Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission. In fact, the 1-2 upshift is 36-percent quicker than the PDK, while the 2-3 and 3-4 upshifts are 27-percent and 26-percent quicker, respectively.
WHAT?! The Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) or Dual Clutch Gearbox, has been praised as one of the best transmissions available today. Can an automatic shift even faster?
If you can spare us with the tech talk, the dual clutch technology essentially revolves around the idea of physically having two separate hydraulically actuated clutch packs, each associated with an input shaft for the even and odd set of gears, while an actuated shift fork system handles the actual shifting of said gears. So when you’re ready to shift up or down, one clutch will quickly disengage while the other clutch engages, allowing power to transfer through the other set of gears. PDK/DSG/DCT or whatever it is called provides a similar powertrain efficiency as traditional manuals while enabling blisteringly fast shifts in the range of hundredths of a second.So when the ZL1’s lead development engineer, Aaron Link, states:
It delivers nearly instantaneous, lightning-fast shifts that alter your perception of what an automatic transmission can offer in a high-performance vehicle – whether you’re on the street, drag strip or road course.
Don’t blame us for feeling a bit wary.
According to Chevrolet’s press release there seems to be a lot more components that help achieve the magic like speeds out of a transmission with a torque converter:
Creative packaging solutions, which had to accommodate another clutch in comparison to the eight-speed, allow the 10-speed to be the approximate size of Camaro’s other eight-speed transmission. It uses four simple gearsets and six clutches: two brake clutches and four rotating clutches. That’s only one more clutch than the eight-speed, despite having two more forward gears.
It is also the latest transmission with an all-new, proprietary electronic control system and performance calibrations. The calibration is unique for the ZL1’s high-performance-oriented driving experience, while additional applications will feature calibrations matched to their respective performance ranges.
A reduction in spin losses, thanks to only two non-applied clutches and other design features, contributes to greater fuel efficiency
New ultra-low viscosity transmission fluid reduces friction across the full temperature operating range for greater fuel efficiency
An internal thermal bypass allows the transmission to warm up faster to its optimal operating temperature for additional fuel efficiency
Advanced torque converter design contributes to packaging efficiency.
We’ll have to give General Motors the benefit of the doubt for now and say this transmission has the potential of being a game changer in the field of available transmissions. We’re curious what the powertrain losses are actually like between a dual clutch transmission versus this 10 speed automatic. Until we can get our hands on the ZL1 and the 10 speed, we’ll reserve our judgement.