Kia's cleaner, smoother automatic
It has been jointly developed with parent company Hyundai to work with transverse engines, which means it is suitable for front- and four-wheel-drive models.
The first UK-bound Kia to get the gearbox will be the all-new Sorento SUV at the beginning of next year. Kia's large MPV, the Sedona, will also use it. Hyundai's i40 – the replacement for the Sonata saloon – and the Santa Fe SUV are also expected to benefit.
Although it outwardly appears to be behind the times alongside Mercedes' seven-speed automatic and the eight-speed unit developed by ZF as a customer gearbox, Kia says it is extremely advanced. It's also smaller and lighter than their current five-speed auto and has fewer moving parts.
If both gearboxes were to be installed in two-wheel-drive Sorentos powered by the new Hyundai-Kia 2.2-litre diesel engine that will appear later this year, Kia claims that the six-speed model would be 10% better on fuel, 14% faster from 0-62mph and 24% quicker in the 37-62mph (60-100kph) overtaking burst.
Other claimed benefits are a smoother ride during high-speed driving because there would be less 'hunting' between ratios to maintain momentum. Kia says that only Toyota and General Motors/Ford (in a joint venture) have a six-speed automatic gearbox with such an advanced specification. The Korean firm has filed 300 patents during its development.