Toyota’s chief engineer for the new Auris hatchback promises that the Japanese brand’s freshly developed continuously variable transmission (complete with a "launch gear") will be far better to use than the current version.

Speaking to, Tatsuro Ueda said that the updated transmission – which the automaker calls “Direct Shift CVT” – was both more exciting to use and more efficient, with shifting speeds some 20 percent faster than before.

“Instead of the first gear ratio with a CVT, we use a direct gear drivetrain as a first gear. After that, from the first gear shift to the second gear shift, the ratio changes from direct gear shift to CVT,” Tatsuro-san told the Australian publication.

In an earlier press release, Toyota said that this addition of a launch gear would facilitate “improved transmission efficiency in lower gear ratios where belt efficiency is poor”.

“The transmission system utilises gear drive when starting from a full stop, resulting in powerful acceleration while at the same time resolving the momentary sluggish feeling that was previously present during accelerator operation,” the press material reads.

“Both smooth and comfortable launch performance are realised. When switching from gear drive to belt drive, the transmission system uses highly responsive gear change control technologies cultivated from AT technology,” it adds.

In the Auris, the CVT will be mated to a new naturally aspirated, 2,0-litre engine worth 126 kW at 6 600 r/min and 205 N.m at 4 800 r/min. In a hybrid powertrain configuration, these petrol figures come in at 107 kW and 180 N.m.