Kia has dropped the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission from its updated Seltos small SUV, following other automakers that have moved away from the technology.
Dual-clutch cars were hailed as the next big thing a few years ago. They offered snappy and quick gear changes as well as better fuel economy compared to traditional “torque converter” transmissions.
They were particularly popular in performance applications, where they could change gear faster than any human on a manual gearbox.
Coupled with small turbocharged engines, they could offer the performance of a V6 with the economy of a four-cylinder.
But while they’re impressive on the open road, dual-clutch cars can be hesitant and jerky at low speeds.
They can also be potentially dangerous at intersections and roundabouts where they can hesitate when a driver hits the gas for a small gap in traffic.
On top of that, they are usually more expensive than traditional torque converter gearboxes.
The Seltos currently has a dual-clutch auto paired with its more expensive 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But the automaker says it will be replaced in the new model with an eight-speed torque converter transmission for “a smoother overall driving experience.”
Kia’s move follows the lead of Volkswagen, which has ditched its dual-clutch car in favor of a torque converter in the Golf.
New models like the T-Roc have also come equipped with 8-speed cars, as have some models from sister company Skoda.
The change is expected to eventually roll out to the larger Sportage, which also has the dual-clutch car at the moment. Sister company Hyundai will likely do the same for its Kona and Tucson SUVs when they get updated.
Kia has not given economic figures for the new Seltos, but it is possible that fuel consumption will increase slightly with the change.
The Skoda Karoq highlights the performance and fuel economy advantages of dual-clutch cars. Its 1.4-litre engine, equipped with a torque converter transmission, generates 110kW and 250Nm, consumes 6.5 liters per 100km and takes 9.2 seconds to reach 100km/h. The 2.0-litre model in the range generates 140kW and 320Nm, uses 6.6L/100km and reaches 100km/h in seven seconds.
Kia says the 1.6-liter turbo has also been updated for the model change, coming with refreshed exterior styling and a more high-tech cabin.
There’s a new headlamp design, a larger grille, and a new-look bumper with a more prominent skid plate underneath.
At the rear, there are new taillights and a refreshed bumper design.
Inside, the analog gauges have been replaced with a digital display in front of the driver. The cheapest model, the S, will have a 4.2-inch screen, while the Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line will have the 10-inch screens that debuted on the larger Sportage.
Kia has also added more driver assistance technology across the range. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are currently extra-cost options on the two cheapest models, but they’ll be standard on the new model.
All models will also get rear air vents and faster USB-C charging ports in the rear, as well as a full-size spare tire, a rarity in this part of the market.