Monday, March 24, 2008

DSG Coupe

Although Many Will Be Drawn To The 3.2-Litre V6 Engine, The Real Advance In This Audi TT Is Its Amazing Gearbox. Andy Enright Reports

Think back to the last time a car manufacturer introduced a groundbreaking innovation that really did catch everyone else on the hop. Its probably fair to say that it was Audi who saw the potential of the four-wheel drive sports car way back at the turn of the Eighties. Just as this development changed the way we viewed performance cars today, another innovation to come out of Ingolstadt may well leave an equally significant impression. Its the Direct Shift Gearbox fitted to the flagship TT model, the 3.

2-litre V6 quattro DSG.

Bear with us here. Many of you may understandably be less than enamoured at the prospect of a lengthy description of a bunch of oily cogs however clever the controlling mechanism may be, so well try to keep things relatively simple. Jump into the TT 3.2 DSG and youre greeted with what looks like a relatively conventional automatic gear lever sprouting from the transmission tunnel.

Closer inspection reveals that the gearstick can be knocked sideways into a slot so that you can push it forward to change up a gear and pull it back to drop down a ratio. There are also paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to achieve the same effect. But then a number of cars already feature such a system. Whats the advance? Its important to understand how these other cars gearboxes work.

Basically, they can be split into two forms. The first is a proper automatic gearbox that can double up as a rather poor manual box as typified by Porsches Tiptronic system, and the second is a sequential manual box that will, at a pinch, function as a somewhat clonky automatic as typified by Alfa Romeos Selespeed, Ferraris F1 or BMWs SMG system. Neither system is ideal. Tiptronic style gearboxes use a torque converter and as such are inefficient and a touch slow witted albeit very smooth.

The sequential manual gearboxes can be brutally efficient in manual mode but are neither smooth nor very convincing when trying to mimic an automatic gearbox. Just try a hill start in reverse and youll see what we mean.

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