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CVT Engines

Updated on March 19, 2015

What is a CVT Engine

This stands for Continuously variable transmission. Unlike conventional automatics, cars with CVT engines are never in a fixed gear.

Compared to a traditional automatic transmission with a torque converter and planetary gears there are fewer parts and the mechanics are simpler and less expensive.The pulley, from an engineering point of view, is the wheel capable of transmitting a rotational motion of the shaft to which it is connected by friction forces that are exerted on by a belt or a rope.

What's so good about this technology?

The revs are always as the optimum setting for the speed of the car in any given time, therefore extremely good fuel efficiency. When driving a CVT you will hear the revs steadily climb to around 3,000-3,500 and stop there. As you keep the gas depressed, the car will keep accelerating but the revs will remain at around 3,000-3,500 and slowly decline unlike a regular automatic.

As an example car the Honda Fit 1.5Vtec CTV, it tends to have an elastic band effect from the start, where it revs up but the engine has a slightly delayed reaction, however once you reach around 50-60kph, slight depression on the gas causes an immediate boost of speed. This is excellent for joining high speed traffic from a side road. you are able to join the highway traffic at an equal speed within seconds.

What are the benefits of CVT?

Smooth stepless acceleration keep the car in its optimum power no matter what speed you are driving.

Less power loss than a traditional automatic system since it is clutchless.

Less fuel usage than Manual and Automatic.

Can easily simulate traditional and automatic modes, by using gear shifters.

What some people dislike about CVT Engines

The main thing that some people dislike is not only the clutch slipping feeling / sound but the lack of initial acceleration from zero. This is due to the way the engine calibrates before accelerating. Many Japanese cars have the simulated manual mode, so this can be overcome by holding it in 1st and 2nd gears for longer.


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