As far as the 8 speed transmission, honestly unless you are driving a manual, CVT seems the way to go... infinite speed transmission.
That's what I was thinking. Someday we'll probably have only CVT automatics and who-knows-how-many speed manuals.
That would be nice.
Random thought - my Mazda 3 offers Automatic as well as a Clutchless Manual mode. For whatever reason, I drive in Manual all the time now. I do wish I had a 5th gear though for pure freeway driving (as 4th on my car is meant to shift into at the 35-40 range).