Despite only being in production since 2003, the Volkswagen DSG gearbox has now been installed in one million vehicles.
There were 400,000 units built in the last year alone, and with production now running at 1,750 per day at the Kassel plant in Germany, it will take only take 18 months for another million units to be built.
The DSG gearbox has clearly proven to be a big hit with the motoring public. Its dual-clutch technology gives seamless gearchanges while allowing the driver to choose when to change gear, and the improved efficiency of the gearchange gives better acceleration, as well as improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 outputs.
Although the driving purists bemoan the lack of ‘proper driver interaction’, the system is remarkably good. Provided you don’t switch it into full auto mode and use the paddles instead, you’re treated to a technical tour-de-force as the box shifts up and down the gears with barely a pause for breath. Fitted to the Golf GTI the DSG gearbox really suits the nature of the car, allowing you to concentrate on the road ahead, choosing your cornering lines and braking points while the dual-clutches and electronic brain do the work of matching revs to road speed (which it does almost perfectly).
The original design was a 6-speed unit but for 2008 Volkswagen are introducing a new 7-speed unit, the DSG-7. One of the reasons for the new box is size – the 6-speed unit wouldn’t fit in anything smaller than a Golf, so by building a more compact unit Volkswagen open up the possibility of even more sales. The DSG-7 is also 23kg lighter than the old unit, mostly as a result of switching from oil-cooling for the clutches to a ‘dry’ setup.
Another reason for choosing seven speeds is that it allows a lower first gear, avoiding clutch slipping in slow-moving traffic. This was one of the weaknesses of the old unit, as it often couldn’t make its mind up whether it wanted to be in first or second gear. With a lower first gear, seventh becomes an overdrive for more relaxed and fuel efficient motorway driving.
One thing is for sure, this technology is only going to get more widespread. Ford are expected to launch a similar system, named Powershift, which will debut in the Volvo range, and other manufacturers will be rushing to develop their own systems now that the Volkswagen DSG gearbox has proved so popular.
So whether you like it or not, DSG is here to stay.