When the Ford Focus goes on sale later this year, drivers should notice the next level in transmission shift quality.
The 2012 Focus will have what Ford calls Torque Hole Filling technology, a concept the automaker first patented a quarter century ago. While Ford has had a patent on the concept since the ’80s, it had to wait for computer technology to catch up.
Ford introduced the dual-clutch automated manual transmission on the 2011 Fiesta. Even without the THF, the transmission, which Ford calls PowerShift, was remarkably smooth. Still, traditional torque-converter automatic transmissions have an edge in smoothness compared to automated manuals.
But automated manual transmissions promise better fuel efficiency because they use computer-controlled automated clutches rather than inefficient torque converters.
So what is the torque hole? Typical transmissions have a break in power delivery between shifts. So every time the transmission shifts, no tractable power is going to the wheels, so there’s a hole in the acceleration.
THF adds a little engine torque to the driveline to smooth shifts.