The Audi S tronic / Volkswagen DSG gearbox supplied by Borg Warner is a very nice compromise for someone who enjoys shifting manually but also needs, for whatever reason, an automatic transmission. Snapping off lightning-quick shifts in something like an Audi TT will put a smile on your face in a hurry, but the downside is that this experience has been limited to cars with torque ratings below 258 lb-ft. Not any more, though. Audi's new 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch system is VW-developed and is ready to accommodate more powerful vehicle offerings. Specifically, it can handle torque up to 406 lb-ft. That's a lot of twist, and things are about to get interesting for drivers across the pond.

The Europeans will first get the new gearbox in the Q5 SUV and the S5 coupe, where it'll supplant the 6-speed auto that's available as an option in the 2-door. Given the choice between Tiptronic S and this new S tronic, we'd happily choose the latter every time. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing it for the foreseeable future. While Audi plans to drop it into a number of Euro-spec models, including S and RS-series cars, the Tiptronic S will continue to be the offering for Americans who want a manumatic in vehicles such as the forthcoming Q5. Audi apparently thinks we'll find the shift action of the S tronic to be too harsh. If that's the automaker's worry, how about this: take the R tronic that's currently available in the R8, cast it into the ocean, and replace it with the the new, improved S tronic. Based on our experience, it might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

[Source: Inside Line | Photo: Alex Núñez]