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by Tim Beissmann

Kia will introduce a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to its passenger vehicle range from 2015.

The new transmission will replace the six-speed auto that is currently available across most models in the car maker’s line-up.

The new seven-speed DCT has been designed primarily for vehicles equipped with engines up to 2.0 litres in capacity, though it will be versatile enough to fit a broad range vehicle sizes, from the Kia Rio city car (pictured below) to the Sorento SUV.

Kia says its engineers have targeted a seven per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and a five per cent improvement in 0-100km/h acceleration ability from the seven-speed dual-clutch compared with the brand’s existing six-speed dual-clutch unit.

Kia Rio

Using two dry clutches equipped with an electric motor-driven clutch actuator and a pair of gear input shafts, Kia promises faster shift times than those achieved by conventional manual and automatic gearboxes, and the ability to shift sequentially or jump instantaneously to any forward gear based on the driver’s requirements.

Kia says the near-continuous power delivery offered by the seven-speed unit minimises the loss of torque during gearshifts, promising a smoother drive across all conditions. An external damper has also been integrated in the pursuit of enhanced NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) refinement.

The car maker claims the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will deliver greater fuel efficiency and a sportier driving experience than any gearbox ever fitted to a Kia.

It’s not yet clear which model will be the first to offer the seven-speed unit. Kia Australia public relations general manager Kevin Hepworth says the transmission is definitely headed our way and is a chance to reach local showrooms next year, though admitted the timing of its introduction will be dictated by the arrival of new and updated models.