Ford has announced a new seven-speed automatic gearbox option for its 1-litre mild-hybrid Fiesta and Puma models. Designed to broaden the appeal of the two compact cars, the new transmission has been tuned to “complement the hybrid powertrain’s electrically-boosted performance”.

The 1-litre EcoBoost Hybrid powertrains combine Ford’s acclaimed three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with what’s called a belt-driven integrated starter/generator, or BISG. That system essentially charges a 48-volt lithium-ion battery whenever the car brakes or coasts, storing energy that would otherwise be wasted. But the BISG can also act as a motor, providing torque “assistance” to improve fuel efficiency or performance, depending on the scenario.

Customers get a choice of two 1-litre mild-hybrid engines, with a 123 bhp version joined by a more powerful 153 bhp unit. Both were already offered with six-speed manual transmissions, but the new seven-speed automatics will sit alongside those gearboxes in the Puma and Fiesta ranges.

Ford Puma ST-Line Vignale lead image

The American company claims there are multiple benefits to the new transmission, including faster acceleration for the 153 bhp Puma and a handful of handy features to improve the driving experience. For example, ST-Line and ST-Line Vignale models will both come with F1-style ‘flappy paddle’ gear shifters for those who prefer manual control, while all versions come with triple downshifts to provide extra punch when overtaking.

And Ford also claims the gearboxes will work particularly well in urban environments, where they will work with the BISG to make the engine more efficient, as well as making life easier for the driver. In particular, the company says the seven-speed automatic transmission “can help keep the hybrid engine at the optimum rpm for efficiency”, reducing fuel use in town.

The seven-speed automatic transmission has also allowed Ford to include extra technology, including the Stop & Go system for the adaptive cruise control. With the seven-speed, double-clutch automatic in place, the system will be able to bring the vehicle to a complete halt in stop-start traffic, then automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than three seconds.

“Adding the option of our seven-speed automatic transmission for EcoBoost Hybrid is another step in our mission to make electrification accessible to all our customers,” said Roelant de Waard, the general manager of Ford of Europe’s passenger car division.

The new gearboxes will go on sale later this year, with prices and official fuel consumption figures revealed nearer the time.