What is it?
Ford’s debut in the fast-growing twin-clutch gearbox market. The new Focus Powershift mates the familiar 2.0-litre TDCI engine with the all-new transmission, which is intended to combine the virtues of both manual and automatic transmissions.
It’s identical in principle to VW’s DSG system, although Ford are only offering six speeds and DSG has just been upgraded to seven ratios. The transmission features two layshafts, one carrying first, third and fifth gear and the other carrying second, fourth and sixth.
Each is controlled by its own clutch, allowing a second ratio to be ‘pre-selected’, allowing the electronically-controlled system to shift gears almost seamlessly.
Ford is initially offering Powershift exclusively with the Focus and C-Max ranges, but it will gradually extend throughout the range.
What’s it like?
A strong addition to the range. Volkswagen has always struggled to match DSG to the boosty power delivery of its turbodiesels, but Ford seems to have no such problems.
Powershift provides almost imperceptible upshifts when left in fully automatic mode, shifting down the box almost as cleanly. The gearbox management system handles kickdown requests well, too.
Drivers can opt to take control of gear selection themselves by sliding the gearlever into a separate channel, but this feels like a bit of an afterthought – controls on the steering wheel would be far easier to use.
Like all twin-clutch systems, Powershift suffers from a slight hesitation if asked to shift up or down two ratios at a time. It’s not a big issue – and you quickly learn to drive around it, trusting the 2.0-litre TDCI motor’s copious mid-range torque to provide keen acceleration.
Powershift also enjoys the advantage of being more fuel efficient than a conventional torque converter-equipped automatic: both mpg and CO2 figures are close to those of the 2.0-litre TDCI manual, and performance is almost identical.