New Five-Speed Auto-Shift-Manual Transmission Enhances Mazda2 Line-Up

Mazda’s agile and roomy subcompact Mazda2 is now available with a new Auto-Shift-Manual transmission. A next generation transmission—which combines the advantages of an automatic transmission with the flexibility and low fuel consumption of a manual transmission it’s available with Mazda2’s MZI 1.4-litre petrol or the MZ-CD 1.4 common-rail turbo diesel engines, depending on market.

This new system performs clutch operation via a clutch actuator. One electric motor takes the place of the clutch actuator, while two motors do the shifting, all controlled by an advanced transmission control unit.

The system has a display in the instrument panel that indicates what gear is engaged, both for manual and automatic modes. It is floor-mounted with a manual-style gearshift lever and tip-to-shift controls. Drivers only need to move the gearshift left from the neutral position to initiate the manual mode. To shift up or down, the driver merely tips + or – respectively, and the system even blips the throttle when the driver downshifts to ensure just the right engine speed, and to guarantee smooth and precise gear changes.

Mazda’s Auto-Shift-Manual transmission has been developed to redress the disadvantages of traditional manual transmission systems. It includes various functions that ensure optimal gear changing in specific situations. These include:
  • Creep function: in first or reverse gear, the clutch is partially engaged and a small amount of torque is transmitted. As an added safety feature, if any door is open while the creep function is active then a warning sounds and the current gear is flashed on the instrument cluster display.
  • Clutch Overheating Protection: If it senses that the clutch is overheating, the clutch engages faster and less smoothly to warn the driver about the imminent risk of overheating.
  • Driving Down a Steep Descent: if it detects that the vehicle is driving down a steep descent then it prevents upshifting below a certain engine speed to maximise the benefits of engine braking. In addition, it shifts down a gear when the brake pedal is depressed, if this is permitted by the engine speed.
  • Detection of Driving Resistance: if it detects driving resistance (e.g. climbing a hill or towing a trailer) it then selects the gearshift timing according to the magnitude of the driving resistance, and thus helps avoid frequent gearshifts back and forth between the gears.
  • Detection of Fast-Off Mode: When the driver suddenly releases the accelerator pedal, Auto-Shift-Manual transmission suppresses an immediate upshift to the next higher gear in order to give the driver a more direct driving feel and to maximise the benefits of engine braking.

Mazda Auto-Shift-Manual transmission’s automatic mode—which operates if the gearshift is not toggled into the manual mode—has been designed with advanced software that constantly evaluates the angle of the throttle pedal, torque output and wheel speed, among other factors, in order to supply the ideal gear in all situations. The instrument panel display constantly informs the driver what gear he or she is currently in.

“Mazda2’s new Auto-Shift-Manual transmission represents the ultimate in small car driving comfort and versatility, and will enhance Mazda2’s already agile handling characteristics and high levels of driving fun,” said Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Vice President Mazda Motor European R&D Centre. “Perfectly matched to the 1.4-litre petrol and common-rail diesel, its tip-shift manual requires no clutching and is intelligent and can prevent mistakes in shifting to avoid extensive clutch wear, while the automatic mode delivers more responsive gear changing and better overall fuel economy compared to conventional automatic transmissions.”

Click here to read our review of the Mazda2

Published 25 October 2003 Melanie Carter

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