Guys, If you read the BTR-Auto web site, they are now owned by Ion Limited, you will see that they have made "significant progress" on a 5 speed auto and are considering development of a 6 speed :-) see this link http://www.ionlimited.com.au/news_re...asp?PageID=105
They also state that they have contracts with Ford until 2006, so obviously Ford won't wait until then before they upgrade the box. There are taxis and fleet vehicles that have been using the gearbox in field trials for several years and it is apparently going well. However, I think Ford do not want a repeat of the problems when they introduced the 4 speed in 1989 and are happy to wait and prove it fully while the Commodore still uses a 4 speed. We will definitely see a 5 speed auto in a few years, I would imagine when the new Commodore engine and gearbox is introduced and who knows, maybe a 6 speed sometime.
In regards to a 5 speed being quicker off the mark, it all depends on the ratios and the overall gearing, like any other gearbox. What is the diff ratio they will use, how low is the first gear? Remember the Commodore has a much lower first and second then the Falcon and this allows it to overcome the deficit in power and torque to the Ford and match or slighty exceed its performance and this also contributes to the Holden's poorer shift quality, particularly on kickdown . (However with an extra 30kW and 75Nm, the Barra will only show it rapidly receeding taillights to the Holden!)
If Ford and BTR use a lower first gear and/or diff and have gearing of say 8-10 km/h per 1000 rpm, rather than the present 12km/h per 1000 rpm (I think), then they can get a substantial improvement in aceleration (and towing performance) and no loss of economy.
What do you reckon?