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DSG Gearbox vs. Other Transmissions - Parts & Labor

Infusion Confusion

Jul 1, 2007
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"Showing up at an event with DSG is like coming to a knife fight strapped with a Magnum."-Marcel Horn, HPA Motorsports

For any activity, there are people who consider themselves enthusiasts. I recently stumbled upon a group of tea-drinking enthusiasts. You're probably thinking: "Yeah, they're called the British." But no, this is a group of Americans. Some enjoy the flavor of tea, others the aroma. Others still are more concerned with the whole ritual. An entire thread exists on how a real tea enthusiast prepares water for steeping the leaves. I enjoy a good cup of tea as much as the next guy. For a while, I was drinking at least one cup of green tea a day. I just boiled my water in the microwave. Apparently, I was way off.

In the HPA R32 feature (page 56), I wrote that I wasn't going to get into the DSG debate, but I just can't help it. I have to throw in my two cents. I'd like to think I'm as much a car enthusiast as anyone else. I live for cars; there's not a single day of my life that doesn't involve car-enthusiasm in some way. Yet some people insist I'm not a real enthusiast because I like a car with a semi-automatic gearbox. This is my first point on DSG: some people want to call it 'just another automatic gearbox.' Well, it has an automatic mode, but it doesn't function like a regular torque converter-equipped slush-box. It's not a typical manual box, either, so let's all just agree to call it what it is-DSG-and not worry about the semantics.

A few months ago, I had the chance to drive DSG- and manual-equipped GTIs back-to-back at Willow Springs racetrack. Not only was I faster in the DSG cars, I had more fun. I can heel-toe and match revs, so it's not like I can't drive stick. It was just incredible to be able to flick through the gears feeling like Michael Schumacher, tapping the paddle-shifter as I'm standing on the brakes at the end of a straight. The changes are faster than I could ever hope to accomplish, and did I mention how buttery smooth they are?

People want to talk about how much more control you have in a regular manual gearbox. The only time you modulate the clutch is moving off from a dead stop. If you can rev-match a shift, then there's no need to do anything but release the clutch after selecting a gear. I enjoy doing a big smoky burnout as much as the next guy, but dropping the clutch isn't something you want to be doing too often. Not on a car you own, anyway. Besides, I've done my fair share of burnouts in DSG cars, even without being able to dump the clutch.

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If you want to compare DSG to a manual in technical terms, it doesn't take long to realize which is superior. DSG shifts in eight milliseconds. The Enzo Ferrari takes 150 milliseconds, and I don't even want to think about how much faster that is than even the best human shifting. People talk about longevity. Well, DSG has two wet clutches that can't be driven improperly. The clutches are always loaded, so there aren't huge waves of torque going through the system on shifts. Things are easier on the rest of the drivetrain, as DSG delivers continuous power instead of cycling from load to no load back to load when shifting.

I have an air-cooled 911. It has no A/C, no heat... not even power steering. I wouldn't want DSG in that car. It just wouldn't feel right. However, in a new GTI or just about any other modern car, I love DSG. It's a technical advancement. Does fuel injection ruin an enthusiast car? Some will say that fuel injection doesn't change your interface with the car. What about a manual choke? Are you more of an enthusiast if you have a car that won't idle without adjustment? How many people want to drive a manual transmission without synchros? Then you would really be 'involved' with shifting. Technology marches on. Eventually the manual transmission will go the way of the carburetor, and the only place you'll find it will be NASCAR.

Oh, and if you're wondering: the appropriate way to boil water is to heat it in a kettle on the stovetop. Bring it to a very low boil, just until bubbles start to appear, let it cool to 190 degrees F, then pour it over the tea leaves. Ridiculous? Maybe, but so is losing sleep over punching a pedal with your left foot.



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