Last week, in the midst of Detroit's first days seeking relief in Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, Automotive News contributor Larry P. Vellequette penned an editorial suggesting that American car companies raise the white flag on dual clutch transmissions and give up on trying to persuade Americans to buy cars fitted with them. Why? Because, Vellequette says, like CVT transmissions, they "just don't sound right or feel right to American drivers." (Note: In the article, it's not clear if Vellequette is arguing against wet-clutch and dry-clutch DCTs or just dry-clutch DCTs, which is what Ford and Chrysler use.) The article goes on to state that Ford and Chrysler have experimented with DCTs and that both consumers and the automotive press haven't exactly given them glowing reviews, despite their quicker shifts and increased fuel efficiency potential compared to torque-converter automatic transmissions.

Autoblog staffers who weighed in on the relevance of DCTs in American cars generally disagreed with the blanket nature of Vellequette's statement that they don't sound or feel right, but admit that their lack of refinement compared to traditional automatics can be an issue for consumers. That's particularly true in workaday cars like the Ford Focus and Dodge Dart, both of which have come in for criticism in reviews and owner surveys. From where we sit, the higher-performance orientation of such transmissions doesn't always meld as well with the marching orders of everyday commuters (particularly if drivers haven't been educated as to the transmission's benefits and tradeoffs), and in models not fitted with paddle shifters, it's particularly hard for drivers to use a DCT to its best advantage.

Finally, we also note that DCT tuning is very much an evolving science. For instance, Autoblog editors who objected to dual-clutch tuning in the Dart have more recently found the technology agreeable in the Fiat 500L. Practice makes perfect – or at least more acceptable.

What do you think? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.



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  • 201 Comments
      yyz
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about just trying to get it right instead of giving up?
      Jerry
      • 1 Year Ago
      As far as spin losses and efficiency go, many of the newer conventional automatic transmissions are only off by a percentage or two. Sure DCTs shift faster and are better on the track, but 98% of the world does not know what happens in the big steel case butted up to the engine. They do not care either just as long as the car does what it says it will according to the PRNDL position that is lit up. Servicing a DCT is unbelievably expensive relative to a conventional automatic. I have not driven a Porsche or a Ferarri with a DCT, but I have not been impressed by the VW DSG or the Getrag DCT in the Focus. I have driven Porsches, GTIs, and Focuses with manual transmissions, and they are all a blast ;).
        Street King
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jerry
        I'll put that new 8-speed ZF automatic up against any non supercar dual clutch for shift speeds AND efficiency.
          Sacto1654
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Street King
          True, but the ZF 8-speed is physically quite large and is intended only for front-engine/rear-drive drivetrains. But both Hyundai and Mazda now are producing six-speed automatics for front-wheel drive applications, thanks to use of electronics to replace much of the complex and heavy hydraulic components of past automatics.
          icemilkcoffee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Street King
          I am sorry, but I find the ZF 8spd to be laggy unless you are in sport mode, and laggy at low speed in general. Say your car is rolling at
        Beej
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jerry
        I was just going to say as soon as DCTs become economically attractive and only marginally annoying to regular (bad) drivers, they will win. Until then, mush on.
      amade.ch
      • 1 Year Ago
      There are good and bad DCTs. But as there is a fantastic 8 Gear Automatic Transmission by ZF on the market I don't see why anyone needs a DCT at all. Sure performancewise there could be a tiny tiny advantage for the DCT but that's all.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amade.ch
        [blocked]
      Dvanos
      • 1 Year Ago
      My parents have a 2012 Focus although it's a good car it's let down by the transmission. Just like others have noted too many jerks and it pauses for a while figuring out what gear to select. It has had many software updates and sometimes it fixes something but messes up another thing and so on it's never been right.
      56Jalopy
      • 1 Year Ago
      The vast majority of American drivers only use their vehicle to get from point A to point B. the few of us that love this kind of advances in technology are not enough to offset the cost of developing a top of the line DCT. When you read stories like the carjacker that jumped in a Corvette then didn't know how to drive a stick you just have to laugh. Even at 66 years old I still love to shift my own gears.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      safnj
      • 1 Year Ago
      >Should American automakers give up on trying to make dual clutch transmissions feel like traditional automatic transmissions? >Yes FTFY. The biggest issue with my 2012 Focus' transmission are the often slow, soft shifts that Ford programmed it to make in an effort to make it feel like a conventional automatic. Give me the lightning quick shifts and quick clutch grab of a VW (and program the damn thing to downshift without full throttle), and it would the highlight of the car rather than it's greatest flaw. If automakers are going to introduce these transmissions, they should own it rather than hiding it. The different feel of a DCT should be marketed to the customer as the feeling of efficiency, high technology, and sportiness.
      speddedler
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is the question, "should American auto makers stop making shitty dual clutch transmissions"? I agree with the comments below that most buyer's don't know what's going on down there, but its not hard to sell good cars. If you can throw acceleration AND economy numbers on a commercial and get good feedback in the automotive press, how can you argue with that? It just seems like circular reasoning to say "Nobody's buying them, so we won't invest into R&D, so they won't get better, so no one's going to buy them".
      Jason Golden
      • 1 Year Ago
      My 2010 VW GTI and 2012 Jetta TDI were both equipped with the DSG. The shudders and jerky low-speed operation, accompanied by pop noises and neck-snapping lurches during stop & go traffic, were hugely disappointing. None of these traits is obvious on a test drive. Real-world use revealed the abrupt behavior. Ditto for the 2012 Focus we rented for a week, though the Focus chattered AND popped.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jason Golden
        How do you provoke this low speed shudder? I had test driven both a 2008 GTI and 2012 Jetta TDI, and I did not notice any kind of irregularity. I thought the DSG trans was excellent on my test drives.
      Matt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Chrysler's problem was they tuned their DDCT to feel like a regular automatic. So the people who knew it was a dual clutch were disappointed and then the people who thought it was a sportier automatic option got something that doesn't even feel or shift as well as a conventional slushbox. They took A and tried to make it work like B and in the end we didn't get either of those. From my experiences, Ford has fixed most of their issues but it still isn't like the DSG in my friend's GTI. There's a reason that the DSG is used as the benchmark and I would like to see the Big 3 get there.
      howzz1854
      • 1 Year Ago
      i want DCT in the new Stingray
        • 1 Year Ago
        @howzz1854
        [blocked]
          mkM3
          • 1 Year Ago
          A fair point, but I would pay the premium in a car like a Corvette or other Detroit-made performance car. Both my current cars have DCT and I don't know that I could either go back to a manual or appreciate a slush box. The rapid fire shifts are simply intoxicating. I want to put American performance cars on my test-drive list, but I don't want to give up the DCT.
        Steve Mulcahy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @howzz1854
        A real (VAG style) DCT should be the only alternative to the 7 speed manual on it. No slushbox!
      Louis Silver
      • 1 Year Ago
      One car that can truly benefit from a double clutch transmission is the Fiat Abarth. It amazes me how stupid the marketing guys at this company are. A large portion of Ferrari's and Porsche's sold now come with this type of transmission and paddle shifters. So why does the Abarth only come in a manual. There is almost no cost difference. And with a giant parts bin like Fiat has I am sure that they can find a bulletproof DCT for the Abarth. With a Paddle Shifters this would truly be the poor man's Ferrari. I would rather beat one of these too hell as a daily driver rather than my Camry or a Honda Fit. It has to have be an automatic because morning and evening traffic are not conducive to manuals. Build it and I will put my order in now. Ford is another company that needs a good DCT but it should go in the Mustang and once again include paddle shifters that really work, this goes double for the Camaro and Corvette. I have to repeat this, if is good enough for Ferrari and Porsche it's good enough for you. Oh hell even the Camry has paddle shifters. Toyota got it right when it put a DCT and paddle shifters in the FRS. Wake up and stop being stupid the guy with mullet is not buying these cars, he is buying this model but a thirty five year old model that he found on Craigslist.
        Thorlius
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Louis Silver
        The FR-S does not have a DCT. It's a normal 6-speed transmission.
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