Twin-clutch transmissions are finding their way into many cars these days, from Volkswagens to Mitsubishis to Nissans. Volvo, like other makers that have made the switch to twin-clutch gearboxes, sees benefits to performance, fuel consumption and power handling capability - even in comparison to manual transmissions.

The basic technology behind twin-clutch gearboxes has been pretty widely understood for quite some time now, and Volvo's breaks no new ground on the technical front. Unlike Volkswagen's recently introduced seven-speed DSG, which uses dry clutches, the Powershift uses dual wet clutches - bathed in a fluid that lubricates and cools the clutches - to send the power to any of the six gears, the computer controlling the clutches and preselecting the next for extremely quick shifts.

Volvo is billing the Powershift as "two transmissions in one," because of the ability to put the gearbox in computer-controlled 'automatic' mode or shift it as a paddle-controlled manual. The cars expected to get this transmission first include 2.0L four-cylinder turbodiesel versions of the Volvo C30, S40 and V50. The transmission is capable of handling up to 450Nm of torque, although the 2.0L diesel to which it will be initially mated only generates 136hp and 320Nm.