Where will it all end? Nine speeds in an auto gearbox? Well, they say it will end about here. With turbo engines able to operate efficiently over a wide rev range, nine will be enough. Anyway, congratulations to Land Rover for being the first. Or rather, one of the first. This Evoque is still a prototype - sales start this summer - and Jeep might beat it into production.
Naturally, it shifts more often than the six-speed it replaces. But because each shift brings a lesser change of revs, you seldom notice them at all, so the Evoque doesn't feel indecisive. The shifts are ultra-quick, and generally very smooth. Though at one point, it laboured in sixth up a hill, then, with only a mite more accelerator, thrashed down to third. Still, it's a prototype.
Because there are so many ratios, the total range is greater from first to top. So you get more control crawling off-road or with a trailer, and cruising in top is quieter and more economical. There's idle-stop too, and the new 'box is actually lighter than the six-speed, so total fuel savings are worthwhile. It won't fit in the new Range Rover Sport, by the way, as it's for transverse engines only.
2179cc, 4cyl, 4WD, 190bhp, 309lb ft, 48.0mpg, 155g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 8.0secs approx, 122mph max, 1680kg
Useful upgrade as an auto, though manual mode makes your head spin. Evoque still terrific