The arrival of sophisticated electronics helped to reduce production costs of automatic transmissions, by doing away with earlier hydro-mechanical controls. It also overcame some of the auto’s drawbacks. Self-learning ‘fuzzy logic’ systems could not only be programmed with a wide range of complex algorithms but could also adapt to different driving styles. Canbus wiring technology advanced things further, permitting the transmission’s ECU to communicate with other computer modules to provide additional functions, such as downshifting under braking.
In some of the latest models, drivers can select ‘sports’ and ‘winter’ settings manually, the former encouraging higher engine speeds, while the latter allows the car to start in second or third gear, to minimise the risk of wheelspin from a standing start.