Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Backwards-compatible engine noise.

I've been hearing a lot about Audi's Multitronic system lately. It's a continuously variable transmission which uses a thick link chain instead of a rubber belt, which means the Multitronic can withstand much more torque than traditional CVTs.

I've also been hearing that CVTs in general are disorienting to drive, since the engine can maintain a constant RPM at all speeds. There's no rise-and-fall of pitch from the engine--it just whines an incessant monotone. The primary audio
cue for speed is absent, which makes it hard to sense how fast you're going.

For this reason, Audi apparently added artificial shift points to their Multitronic transmissions, so that the engine varies its RPM (and thus pitch)
in a basically familiar way. This seems really wacky, since it presumably reduces the efficiency of the transmission. I'd like to find out more about this, but so far I've only found one article that mentions the artificial shift points.

Does anybody know more about this?


  1. Gadzooks! Multitronics? Call Ralph Nader! Don't they know how dangerous they can be to the consumer?
    Look what happened during user trials the first time they were deployed! The principle designer had to be sedated and confined to a loony bin after his Multitronic enhanced vehicle killed hundreds.
    I can't believe that Audi could be so wreckless as to try this dangerous technology again.

  2. Ah, that clears things up. Thanks, Mark. :)

  3. I don't think this would be for me. It is a bit ass backward to spend millions of dollars and time to develop an engine/transmission that optimized the RPM and varied the tranny, only to toss it all because it didn't make the right "Vroom, Vroom" sound.
    You'd think it would be easier to place a decent quality speaker under the drivers seat that played the appropriate sound. You could even customize the sounds. For instance it could sound like a whining baby.."Waaaaa, (shift), waaaaaa, (shift), waaaaa" Or maybe be the stuff of practicle jokes... The new Audi whoppie rev.."pppppffft..."
    well you get the idea.

  4. Yeah, I think it's stupid too.
    Mainly, I'm curious if a user can disable the artificial shift points.
    I'll probably have to go to an Audi dealership and pretend to be interested in buying one.