I don’t currently own one, but I’ve got to admit that hybrid powertrains and the dizzying advances in electrical propulsion fascinate the living daylights out of me. Spending a lot of time riding around Paris last year in Toyota Prius taxis helped to make me a convert. But something always seemed to be missing from the driving experience. You’d let the driveline power up, snick it into Drive, press down on the pedal and off you’d go. The fun of things like gear-changing was antiseptically absent, at least until now. The Hyundai Motor Group says it’s fixed that tactile shortcoming.
What the cutaway view shows is a Hyundai transmission fitted with the South Korean automaker’s newly introduced Active Shift Control technology. Generally speaking, hybrid drivetrains don’t utilize torque converters like conventional automatic transmissions do, since the drivetrain would lose power each time the transmission changed gears. What Hyundai’s done is develop a new Hybrid Control Unit, which brings the engine RPMs and transmission speeds into much closer sync, allowing gear changes to occur 30 percent more quickly. Increasing the pace of the shift times allows for reduced power loss every time the transmission changes gears. The ASC software allows the Hybrid Control Unit to monitor and more precisely match the engine and transmission’s rotational speeds 500 times per second, to ensure that no energy is wasted. No, it won’t replace the joys of an H-pattern and clutch pedal, but this is better and more consistent performance than hybrid drivelines have ever allowed it in the past, so kudos to Hyundai.