Dual-clutch transmissions are viewed as an improvement over current automatic and auto-manual transmission technologies. Here in the US, we tend to look at the use of the technology by VW as a performance enhancement, primarily. It is a marriage of the directness of a manual transmission with the ease of use of an automatic, while providing quicker shifting than is humanly possible. BorgWarner, the supplier of the dual cluch technology for VW's DSG transmission, is setting its sights on the low-cost market as a way to offer automatic shifting in the 600cc to 1.0-liter segment. Currently, CVT and low-cost automatics are being used in this segment, and dual-clutch technology can offer improved performance and fuel economy over standard automatic transmissions and lower cost than CVTs with less mechanical complexity.

According to CSM Worldwide, an automotive market consultantcy, manufacturers pay anywhere from €300 to €400 ($381 to $509) a unit for low-cost, four-speed automatics. CVTs can cost up to €1,400 ($1780), but dual-clutch transmissions offer a nice middle ground at about €950 ($1208).

While some of us still prefer to row our own gearboxes, technologies like dual-clutch offer a better compromise so that others who are not comfortable with selecting their own gear ratios can experience improved performance and fuel economy. Few would argue that a standard slushbox is a better alternative, especially in smaller displacement engines.

[Source: Automotive News (Sub. req)]