Who has the best CVT? Perodua, Honda, Toyota or Nissan?
Eric · Sep 7, 2021 09:00 PM
What does the Honda City, Nissan Almera, Perodua Ativa, and Toyota Vios have in common? The answer is their transmission of choice: continuously variable transmission, or CVT in short.
You see, as opposed to the tried-and-tested four-speed torque converter automatic, a CVT transmission is not only physically lighter, it is also far more efficient and cheaper to produce. A win-win situation for many car manufacturers aiming to improve their models’ fuel economy.
Drawing from our experience of sampling various CVT-equipped cars over the last few years, we generally found that most CVTs out there offer a smooth and quiet operation, largely because these CVTs utilize a torque converter to send power to the driven wheels.
Take the Nissan Almera for example. The new generation model ditches the archaic four-speed torque converter automatic in favour of a more modern CVT transmission. Compared to rivals like the Honda City and Toyota Vios, the Almera’s CVT is far more responsive, allowing for a more enjoyable driving experience.
Another noteworthy CVT is the unit found in the Toyota Corolla Altis. Although the Malaysian-spec Corolla Altis is not fitted with Toyota’s Direct Shift CVT, we found that it feels more direct and the whining noise associated with the previous-generation model is gone.
Honda’s CVT transmissions are also worth a mention. Unlike Toyota and Nissan who sources their CVT transmissions from Aisin and Jatco respectively, Honda does it in-house. The end result is a more seamless pairing between engine and transmission, as Honda is responsible for both.
In the case of Honda, both the Honda HR-V and Civic's CVT transmissions are amongst the most seamless examples we've sampled to-date, often times used as benchmarks for how a CVT should be.
Unlike traditional belt- or chain-driven CVTs, what sets the Ativa’s D-CVT apart from the competition is its combination of belt and planetary gear set. Planetary gear set is used to complement steel belts to give the CVT a more direct feel.
Like any other CVT, the D-CVT utilizes the belt at start-stop and lower speed conditions.
At medium to higher speeds, the clutch engages and power is routed to the planetary gear set, creating a simulated torque converter automatic sensation.
Without getting too technical, D-CVT works oppositely from Toyota's Direct Shift CVT, seeing that the planetary gear is used at higher speeds instead of start-stop conditions.
The end result is a driving experience that sets itself apart from other CVT-equipped models, yet still able to deliver the fuel consumption that CVT transmissions are known for.