2004 Audi TT DSG2005 Honda Civic Hybrid 250

Transmission specialists are reporting that sales of CVT transmissions will increase in the U.S. and Japan while dual-clutch transmissions, also called direct shift gearbox (DSG) transmissions, are taking over Europe. CVT trannies offer better fuel economy gains but have trouble handling the torque of larger engines. DSG transmissions, the development of which has spearheaded by Volkswagen, are cheaper to produce and offer the driver a choice between an automatic mode or a more engaging clutchless shifting mode. DSGs are also lighter and fit easily into spaces engineered for a common manual transmission.

Read on for my personal rant about this debate.



I?ve driven a Honda Civic Hybrid with a CVT and an Audi TT with a DSG. The fact that these two cars are so different illustrates the point that these two transmissions are suited for two completely different categories of cars. A CVT transmission makes sense for a hybrid or small economy car because of its ability to keep engine speed at its most efficient point. DSG transmissions, however, are suited for larger cars that were designed without compromises. A DSG offers automatic shifting that?s smoother than any normal automatic could hope to achieve and a manual mode that allows the driver to perform clutchless shifts faster than a human hand. I see both of these technologies carving out their niches in opposite ends of the market, with CVT transmissions appearing in fuel efficient vehicles and DSG transmissions showing up in luxury and high-end sports cars.