LONDON, England - Land Rover will use the upcoming 2013 Geneva auto show to announce the latest in what it calls "a long line of technical firsts".And a first it certainly is: the ZF 9HP is a NINE-speed auto car transmission designed for transverse applications and said to be one of the most efficient and technically advanced yet used in a production vehicle.Land Rover is the lead partner on the project with ZF, a leader in transmission technology.'SMALLER STEPS, BETTER CHANGES'The off-roadermaker believes increasing the number of gear ratios from six to nine translates into significantly lower fuel consumption with concomitant lower CO2 emissions."Smaller ratio steps mean improved acceleration and shifts," Landy says. "The higher top gear reduces fuel consumption while the lower engine engine revolutions improve comfort and reduce noise at high speed."The 9HP, the company says, is extremely robust and "perfectly complements Land Rover’s rugged all-terrain ability while delivering exceptionally high levels of refinement and efficiency".The lowest ratio is far lower than that of the existing six-speed transmission and is intended for off-road, towing and extreme on-road conditions such as gradients and altitude, giving the driver a heightened sense of control.Gear-changes, ZF says, are "extremely fast, below the threshold of perception" and where the current Landy six-speed changes up or down in gear sequence, the 9HP box can skip-shift under rapid deceleration or from greater driver demands.The torque converter has a multi-stage damper for smoother pull-offs; "curve mode", longitudinal acceleration and pedal position all delay upshifts."The 9HP is a masterpiece of packaging," Landy says, "and despite the extra three gear ratios is only 6mm longer and weighs 7.5kg less than the outgoing six-speed."We're still waiting to hear from Land Rover SA about when the superbox might arrive in South Africa.