Nine gears means better responsiveness, economy and off-road ability.

Land Rover has just announced that it'll soon be treating customers to the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission.

Seemingly more than just a gimmick for boasting purposes, the new 'box is said to improve real-world fuel economy, acceleration response and off-road ability.

The first ratio of the new ZF 9HP transmission is much lower than that in the current six-speed transmission and this allows better creeping abilities up steep gradients off the beaten track. The top gear is also higher, which allows for quieter and more economical open road cruising.

The gearbox promises a more refined experience with gear-shifts said to be “below the threshold of perception” thanks to a multi-stage damper system on the torque converter.

The 9-speeder can also adapt to the driver's mood within seconds, implementing brisker shifts when it detects the driver is putting foot and settling into a more economical mode when the approach seems more relaxed.

In Curve Mode, longitudinal acceleration and pedal position all control upshift prevention. Fast-Off mode, meanwhile, measures the rate of throttle release, anticipates further requests by the driver for high power, then holds the gear if necessary.

The Range Rover Evoque will be the first recipient of the new gearbox and other models may follow in due course.