BMW's Front-Wheel-Drive Models Are About To Get Better

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Thanks to one very important feature.

Earlier this year, BMW signed a deal with transmission builder ZF for its eight-speed automatic. BMW uses the ZF gearbox in all of its US-built SUVs ranging from the X3 up to the X7 but its front-wheel-drive-based models like the X1 and X2 use a different transmission from Aisin. The platform used by the X1 and X2 also underpins several Mini models like the Countryman and Clubman, both of which have recently received a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The seven-speed DCT is built by Magna, who just announced a new partnership with the BMW Group to supply its transmission technology. Magna says this is the largest production order for transmission technologies in company history.

2020 BMW X1 Front Angle View BMW
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BMW
Magna

"This new award is another result of Magna's commitment to delivering high-quality, flexible and innovative transmissions," said Tom Rucker, President of Magna Powertrain. "Our scalable dual-clutch transmissions enhance drivability while simultaneously providing optimal levels of efficiency, which makes our product a perfect match for BMW."

The seven-speed DCT will be used in 70 different vehicle applications including a new hybrid solution. Magna says the hybrid variant of this transmission features a 48-volt, high-RPM electric motor within the housing, allowing for improved fuel efficiency and new driving features. The only FWD platform BMW model to offer a hybrid drivetrain in the US is the Countryman PHEV, which currently comes with a conventional six-speed automatic.

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2017-2020 MINI Cooper Countryman Front View Driving MINI
Dashboard MINI
2019-2020 BMW X2 M35i Front Angle View BMW

Since the seven-speed DCT has only been confirmed on the S variants of the Mini Countryman and Clubman thus far, we wonder what the other 68 applications of the transmission will be. An obvious answer might be the X1 and X2 but we are also curious to see how BMW adopts mild-hybrid technology into its FWD platform vehicles. Chances are, we will soon see mild-hybrid variants of the company's FWD-based models including the X1, X2, Countryman, Clubman, and the new 2 Series Gran Coupe.

2017-2020 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman Front Angle View MINI
Dashboard MINI
Gear Shifter MINI

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