CVT vs AGS: Which Car Transmission Should You Buy?​

In our latest car buying guide from Colin Appleyard, we’re talking all things automatic transmissions. Two contenders fight for dominance: the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and the Automated Gear Shift (AGS).

Each offers unique features and advantages, leaving car buyers with the age-old question: which one should you choose?

Let's dive into the ins and outs of both systems to help you make an informed decision.

What Is a CVT?​

​CVT stands for continuously variable transmission. It’s essentially a modern type of automatic transmission that doesn’t use gears like traditional models. 

How Does a CVT Work?

​CVT’s revolutionise the way vehicles change gears. Unlike traditional automatic transmissions with a fixed number of gears, CVTs operate on a system of pulleys and belts. These components adjust seamlessly to provide an infinite number of gear ratios, optimising performance and fuel efficiency.

What Are The Advantages of CVT?

​One of the standout advantages of CVT lies in its ability to provide a consistently smooth driving experience. With no jarring gear shifts, acceleration feels fluid and effortless, creating a more comfortable ride for passengers. This seamless operation is particularly appreciated during stop-and-go traffic or city driving, where frequent gear changes can be disruptive.

CVTs also often excel in fuel efficiency, thanks to their adaptive nature. By continuously adjusting gear ratios to match driving conditions, CVTs can keep the engine operating at its optimal efficiency, resulting in reduced fuel consumption. This efficiency is not only beneficial for your wallet but also contributes to lower carbon emissions, making CVTs a more greener, attractive choice for environmentally conscious drivers.

Additionally, the absence of fixed gears in CVTs opens up opportunities for enhanced performance and versatility. Without the constraints of traditional gear ratios, CVT-equipped vehicles can deliver smoother acceleration and better responsiveness across a wide range of driving scenarios. Whether navigating steep inclines or overtaking on the highway, CVTs can adapt seamlessly to provide the necessary power without hesitation.

What Are The Disadvantages of CVT?

​CVTs are not without their drawbacks. One common concern among drivers is the lack of engagement and connection with the driving experience. Without the sensation of shifting gears, some enthusiasts may find CVTs less involving and enjoyable to drive, missing the tactile feedback associated with manual transmissions or traditional automatics.

Another notable disadvantage of CVTs is the characteristic droning sound that accompanies hard acceleration. As the engine revs continuously to maintain optimal performance, it can produce a monotonous noise that may be off-putting to some passengers. While advancements in sound insulation have mitigated this issue to some extent, it remains a distinctive characteristic of CVT-equipped vehicles.

Maintenance and repair costs are also considerations for prospective CVT owners. Due to their complex design and reliance on specialised components such as pulleys and belts, CVTs can be more expensive to service compared to traditional automatic transmissions. The reliability of CVTs has been a subject of debate, with some drivers reporting issues such as overheating, slipping, and premature wear. As with any technology, proper maintenance and regular servicing are essential to ensure longevity and performance.

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What Is an AGS?

AGS stands for Automated Shift Gearbox. It combines the convenience of automatic transmission with the flexibility of manual shifting

How Does AGS Work?

An AGS uses gear sets, a hydraulic system, and a torque converter, AGS provides drivers with a more hands-on driving experience.

What Are The Advantages of ASG?

One of the biggest advantages of AGS is its ability to provide a more connected feel between the engine and the vehicle's speed. Unlike CVTs, which operate on a continuously variable basis, AGS systems utilise traditional gear sets and a hydraulic system to deliver precise and responsive shifts. This improves the driver's sense of control, allowing for smoother acceleration and more intuitive performance.

AGS systems also often boast lower maintenance costs compared to CVTs. With fewer specialised components and a design that closely resembles traditional automatic transmissions, AGS-equipped vehicles are generally easier and more affordable to service. This can translate to long-term savings for owners, making AGS a practical choice for budget-conscious drivers.

You also get a more engaging driving experience with ASG, ideal for car enthusiasts who appreciate the tactile feedback of manual shifting.  Whether navigating winding roads or tackling challenging terrain, AGS vehicles offer a level of driver involvement that is unmatched by the traditional automatics.​

What Are The Disadvantages of ASG?

​One major limitation of AGS’s is their lower fuel efficiency compared to CVTs. While AGS systems offer greater control and responsiveness, they may sacrifice some efficiency in the process, particularly during city driving or stop-and-go traffic conditions. This can result in higher fuel consumption and increased emissions, which may be a concern for eco-conscious drivers.

Another drawback of AGS is the need for manual gear selection in certain driving scenarios. Unlike CVTs, which automatically adjust gear ratios based on driving conditions, AGS systems require drivers to manually shift gears when climbing hills or accelerating rapidly. This can lead to a less intuitive driving experience for some drivers, especially those accustomed to the simplicity of traditional automatic transmissions.

AGS systems may be challenging to master for drivers who are unfamiliar with manual shifting. While some drivers may appreciate the added control and engagement, others may find the need to manually select gears cumbersome and inconvenient, particularly in heavy traffic or congested urban environments.

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Which Is Better: CVT or AGS?

So, which transmission is the better fit for you? The answer depends on your priorities and driving preferences.

If smoothness and fuel efficiency are your main concerns, a CVT may be the way to go. Its seamless operation and superior mileage make it ideal for urban commutes and everyday driving.

On the other hand, if you crave a more engaging driving experience with greater control over gear shifts, an AGS could be the perfect fit. Its blend of automatic convenience and manual interaction appeals to drivers who enjoy a more hands-on approach to driving.

Ultimately, whether you opt for a CVT or an AGS, both transmissions offer unique advantages and considerations.

Still confused? Talk to the team at Colin Appleyard, our family-run business prides itself on helping customers with all steps of their car buying journey.