A ZF Transmission is now becomming common in many luxury vehicles across several luxury marques. ZF is not a type of
transmission nor is it an improvement to the basic transmission but ZF is a transmission
and drivetrain manufacturing giant from Friedrichshafen, Germany.
The reason why I have chosen to feature an external manufacturer is because they have been able to make the basic automatic
gearbox as efficient and versatile as possible and ZF transmissions are now used on luxury and ultra luxury vehicles.
In fact the chances are very high that any luxury saloon with an eight speed transmission with
the exception of the Lexus LS uses a ZF transmission. I will feature their eight speed (8HP) transmission and just touch on their
six speed (6HP) transmission on this webpage.
The ZF line of transmissions are definitely made for high end vehicles. They are made for a rear
wheel drive drivetrain layout, they are usually designed to handle high levels of horsepower and
torque. They assist luxury vehicles to have above average performance with less fuel and more smoothness.
To discuss why the 8HP is so acquired is because it is one transmission with three distinct characteristics. These distinct
characteristics are the result of three different options of connecting the transmission to the engine, these options are:
The 8HP transmission has also made efficient use of the planetary gearsets. Four planetary gearsets and several shifting elements
make up the eight gear ratios. The eight ratios allow the transmission to be more fuel efficient than the similarily designed 6HP.
- A Torque Converter - this is the default coupling option, the torque converter locks at 1200 rpm and it provides a smooth
operation worthy of a luxury vehicle. This is a very good option for a general feel of luxury and smoothness.
- An Electric Motor - this motor can be used in place of the torque converter and results in an over 20% increase in fuel economy.
The electric motor can even be used as the starter which gives it two roles. This is the best option of the three for a
- A Wet Multiplate Clutch - this is the coupling option for performance oriented cars. The multiplate clutch reduces shift times
to make the gear shifts almost as quick as a dual clutch transmission which ZF also manufactures
for high end performance vehicles.
ZF's 6HP transmission is also a world class luxury transmission although the 8HP has improved on it. It can still be found in very
capable saloons such as the Jaguar XJ, the Hyundai Equus (Hyundai's competitor for the Mercedes Benz S-Class & Lexus LS) and the Bentley
In fact Jaguar has been using the 6HP ZF transmissions for several years now. Other vehicles that use ZF transmissions (8HP) are
the BMW 760Li, the Bentley Mulsanne, the Rolls Royce Ghost and the Audi A8. As I've mentioned the A8 the rear wheel drive ZF transmission
can also be built to accommodate an all wheel drive drivetrain from the factory.