1 2
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/18/20 8:43 a.m.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

Technology can be hard to accept, especially when it hints at our personal inadequacies. Perhaps that’s why some good ideas are a bit tough to swallow. 

I admit that I’m not immune to having such hard feelings toward a piece of hardware. The first time I felt this way, it was about a camera.

My first real camera was a Canon A-1. Production lasted from 1978 through 1985, and it has gone down in the history books as a really groundbreaking piece of equipment. Even though it didn’t come from Canon’s professional ranks, this camera still raised the bar for the entire industry regarding microprocessor controls. 

Don’t forget: If you go back a few decades, cameras were devoid of computer chips and little black boxes. If a battery was present, it just operated the light meter. For the most part, these were fairly simple machines by today’s standards. Focus and exposure were all handled manually. 

If I had to guess, I got my A-1 around 1983 or so. I was in junior high and my dad, also a photo buff, figured I was ready for a serious camera. He also had an A-1, but mine came courtesy of the used market.

My A-1 faithfully served me through high school and into my first year of college, the corners of its body picking up patina as the plastic wore away to reveal the metal below. Unfortunately, technology eventually caught up with the A-1.

Read the rest of the story

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/18/20 10:36 a.m.

There's no question that a modern DTC is an engineering marvel and can shift faster than I can.  In addition the calibration in high end cars is amazing.  Most of them make gear selections on track that mirror what a good driver would be doing manually so there's no need to mess around with the paddle shifters.  Just let them do their thing, focus on your driving and enjoy the awesome sound track as they bang through the gears on the way up and rev match on the downshifts.

The thing is though, just being as fast as possible isn't necessarily the point.  Sure, if I'm racing then I want the fastest stuff that's legal but if I'm driving for the joy of driving then something that will shave fractions of a second (or even full seconds) off my lap times is largely irrelevant.  Particularly on public roads.  That's when a good manual gear box is irreplaceable.  I just enjoy making smooth fast upshifts, rev matching heal toe downshifts and selecting the right gear at the right time.  I don't care that a computer could do it better.

As far as autofocus cameras are concerned my eyesight makes is so I can't focus one manually anyway.

SammyPati
SammyPati New Reader
11/19/20 4:25 a.m.

APEowner , Im with you 100%

who cares that a computer can change gears in a nanosecond. If that what people want, then driverless cars will make them even more happy!

 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/19/20 5:57 a.m.

The comparison in the article is perfect. I like driving a manual and I'm glad I still get to do it in my race car. But the PDK in my Cayman has made me an absolute religious convert- such a superior technology.  So much more effective power when the car can always be in the power band. Such amazing sounds and performance.  So much less dreadful in traffic, meaning my "nice" car is enjoyable for ordinary life stuff too. 

This subject seems to bring out passionate responses from car guys, but I wish more of them had the chance to drive one of the really good DCT's before rushing to judgement. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
11/19/20 6:02 a.m.
SammyPati said:

APEowner , Im with you 100%

who cares that a computer can change gears in a nanosecond. If that what people want, then driverless cars will make them even more happy!

 

It's not all or nothing, it's a sliding scale.  I like to shift for myself but I giggle when the computers do it rapidly and seamlessly, with rev matching like no human could ever achieve. 

 

I like letting a computer control fuel mixture and ignition timing, too!  Some people probably have a problem with that and want to go back to having a mixture lever and timing lever on the steering column, like in the days of fuel of wildly variable quality and hand cranking, so they can be REALLY in control of the driving experience.

maj75 (Forum Supporter)
maj75 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
11/19/20 7:09 a.m.

Head over to the Porsche forum where folks with PDK failures at less than 50k miles are getting a $16-23k bill from Porsche for a replacement.  Ask how they like the new technology.

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/19/20 7:25 a.m.
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:

The comparison in the article is perfect. I like driving a manual and I'm glad I still get to do it in my race car. But the PDK in my Cayman has made me an absolute religious convert- such a superior technology.  So much more effective power when the car can always be in the power band. Such amazing sounds and performance.  So much less dreadful in traffic, meaning my "nice" car is enjoyable for ordinary life stuff too. 

This subject seems to bring out passionate responses from car guys, but I wish more of them had the chance to drive one of the really good DCT's before rushing to judgement. 

The problem with the comparisons is that the dual clutch trans doesn't actually provide a brand new feature to cars.  Automatic shifting transmissions have been around for many decades, this is just a different way of doing the same feature.  For mass market car makers, it's a cheaper version of the auto trans.  For the niche makers, this is a way to provide an auto trans that makes it seems sporty.

In no way, shape, or form should the Ford Focus DST be considered sporty- that was never it's intention, ever.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
11/19/20 8:08 a.m.

McLaren isn't calling any of us.  Driving for us is about involvement and feel, the connection to the car and making it do what we want.  A DSG is just a fancy automatic transmission and doesn't give any of that.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) Dork
11/19/20 8:12 a.m.

Converting from a 5sp manual to a DSG myself this winter in my race car. Same $ as a dog engagement transmission without the wear issues. Taking over complete mech control with a standalone controller so I can program it how I want. Sure I don't get to shift, but I don't get to miss shifts any more either. Nothing quite sounds or feels like shifts that are tens of ms. I think some of the haters need to ride in a dsg car that's set on kill, it's wild.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/19/20 8:31 a.m.
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) said:
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:

The comparison in the article is perfect. I like driving a manual and I'm glad I still get to do it in my race car. But the PDK in my Cayman has made me an absolute religious convert- such a superior technology.  So much more effective power when the car can always be in the power band. Such amazing sounds and performance.  So much less dreadful in traffic, meaning my "nice" car is enjoyable for ordinary life stuff too. 

This subject seems to bring out passionate responses from car guys, but I wish more of them had the chance to drive one of the really good DCT's before rushing to judgement. 

The problem with the comparisons is that the dual clutch trans doesn't actually provide a brand new feature to cars.  Automatic shifting transmissions have been around for many decades, this is just a different way of doing the same feature.  For mass market car makers, it's a cheaper version of the auto trans.  For the niche makers, this is a way to provide an auto trans that makes it seems sporty.

In no way, shape, or form should the Ford Focus DST be considered sporty- that was never it's intention, ever.

The DCT does provide a new feature to cars, It allowed for an automatic transmission without a drivability penalty and without performance penalty. having had to the chance to drive DCT/DSG cars in anger and on the street I've found myself a fan just like SHinygroove. You get all the performance benefits and it's still super tame to daily drive.

And this is NOT a cheaper version of the automatic transmission.

BTW, focus transmission was not a DCT, the focus used an automated manual transmission with a single dry clutch and is not related to the DCT.

 

350z247
350z247 New Reader
11/19/20 8:39 a.m.

In reply to APEowner :

I agree 100%. In a race class, I'd take a modern DCT or even an 8 speed ZF auto over a manual transmission; it's just one less thing to worry about while I'm trying to maximize the performance of the car. Yet my daily is always a manual. At 8/10ths on a mountain road, it's just one more level of engagement. Even just rowing through the gears after a stop is enough to make the morning commute a little more exciting.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/19/20 9:23 a.m.
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) said:
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:

The comparison in the article is perfect. I like driving a manual and I'm glad I still get to do it in my race car. But the PDK in my Cayman has made me an absolute religious convert- such a superior technology.  So much more effective power when the car can always be in the power band. Such amazing sounds and performance.  So much less dreadful in traffic, meaning my "nice" car is enjoyable for ordinary life stuff too. 

This subject seems to bring out passionate responses from car guys, but I wish more of them had the chance to drive one of the really good DCT's before rushing to judgement. 

The problem with the comparisons is that the dual clutch trans doesn't actually provide a brand new feature to cars.  Automatic shifting transmissions have been around for many decades, this is just a different way of doing the same feature.  For mass market car makers, it's a cheaper version of the auto trans.  For the niche makers, this is a way to provide an auto trans that makes it seems sporty.

In no way, shape, or form should the Ford Focus DST be considered sporty- that was never it's intention, ever.

I get your point but the DCT in high end cars provides a shifting experience that is far superior to any conventional automatic that I've ever driven.  While some are better than others every conventional auto I've driven, including the C7 Z06 has noticeable latency when shifting manually.  To make maters worse it's not consistent making it difficult, if not impossible to know when to shift.  I've also never driven a conventional automatic that that had a really good track calibration but that's a separate issue that presumably could be resolved with some track focused development time.

In contrast every DCT I've driven responded in fractions of a second every time.  Some are quicker than others but they've all been so fast that I didn't have to consciously adjust for a delay.

infernosg
infernosg New Reader
11/19/20 9:27 a.m.

I enjoy modern DCTs a lot more than a traditional auto. I'd by lying if I said the DCT in our 10 year-old Jetta TDI doesn't make me giggle from time to time. It's definitely not a sporty car but it's more fun to drive than our other cars with traditional automatics. While I certainly enjoy the 5 speeds in my RX7s I can appreciate the speed of the DCT while I'm waiting 1-2 seconds for every shift in my 79.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/19/20 9:33 a.m.
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:

The comparison in the article is perfect. I like driving a manual and I'm glad I still get to do it in my race car. But the PDK in my Cayman has made me an absolute religious convert- such a superior technology.  So much more effective power when the car can always be in the power band. Such amazing sounds and performance.  So much less dreadful in traffic, meaning my "nice" car is enjoyable for ordinary life stuff too. 

This subject seems to bring out passionate responses from car guys, but I wish more of them had the chance to drive one of the really good DCT's before rushing to judgement. 

The DCT in my 135i was fussy in traffic, but when banging up and down through the gears it was a delight. I also like shifting my own gears in certain cars. 

GASP, we can like different things! Who knew?!?!

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/19/20 9:52 a.m.

When I drive a car I want this experience.............hence my having a 6 speed manual in my daily.

https://www.goodwood.com/grr/event-coverage/festival-of-speed/2020/5/video-1905-darracq-200hp-land-speed-record-car-seriously-sideways/

 

350z247
350z247 New Reader
11/19/20 10:01 a.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

I'd say it's all a sliding scale. On the street, you have spare attention span to be more involved like these brave gentlemen; at 10/10ths on the track, having less things to worry about allows for more focus on proper line, braking, weight transfer, ect. DCTs shift faster while also requiring less attention; in the final hour of an endurance race, I'd say that would be much appreciated.

Tyler H (Forum Supporter)
Tyler H (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/19/20 10:29 a.m.

I love DCTs in theory.   The successful implementation depends on tuning.  I've driven two different 911s with PDK that were completely different experiences. 

I would love to buy a 14-16 Cayman and now I don't have to filter search results by transmission type.  It's all good these days!  

Nobody (at least with a straight face) thinks they can out-brake ABS.  Nobody is going to shift faster than PDK, and if you're honest with yourself -- even the best drivers miss some shifts.  

Executing perfect rev-matched downshifts is a rewarding thing in it's own right, but that's now a rewarding aspect of vintage motoring.  The future is here, and the clutch pedal doesn't have a place in it.  

 

 

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/19/20 10:37 a.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

Yes, it is a dual clutch.  I know the people who worked on it.

 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
11/19/20 10:42 a.m.
Tyler H (Forum Supporter) said:

 

Executing perfect rev-matched downshifts is a rewarding thing in it's own right, but that's now a rewarding aspect of vintage motoring.  The future is here, and the clutch pedal doesn't have a place in it.  

Some of the fastest drivers I follow don't even bother rev matching some of the time - too hard in important brake zones to over slow while pedal dancing. The less shifting I have to deal with on track, the better. It's ok fun on the road, but I care more about turn-in then rowing my own gears. 

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/19/20 10:43 a.m.
APEowner said:
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) said:
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:

The comparison in the article is perfect. I like driving a manual and I'm glad I still get to do it in my race car. But the PDK in my Cayman has made me an absolute religious convert- such a superior technology.  So much more effective power when the car can always be in the power band. Such amazing sounds and performance.  So much less dreadful in traffic, meaning my "nice" car is enjoyable for ordinary life stuff too. 

This subject seems to bring out passionate responses from car guys, but I wish more of them had the chance to drive one of the really good DCT's before rushing to judgement. 

The problem with the comparisons is that the dual clutch trans doesn't actually provide a brand new feature to cars.  Automatic shifting transmissions have been around for many decades, this is just a different way of doing the same feature.  For mass market car makers, it's a cheaper version of the auto trans.  For the niche makers, this is a way to provide an auto trans that makes it seems sporty.

In no way, shape, or form should the Ford Focus DST be considered sporty- that was never it's intention, ever.

I get your point but the DCT in high end cars provides a shifting experience that is far superior to any conventional automatic that I've ever driven.  While some are better than others every conventional auto I've driven, including the C7 Z06 has noticeable latency when shifting manually.  To make maters worse it's not consistent making it difficult, if not impossible to know when to shift.  I've also never driven a conventional automatic that that had a really good track calibration but that's a separate issue that presumably could be resolved with some track focused development time.

In contrast every DCT I've driven responded in fractions of a second every time.  Some are quicker than others but they've all been so fast that I didn't have to consciously adjust for a delay.

You haven't driven all of the automatics that high end cars do.  20 years ago ZF had an auto (which was massive, heavy, and expensive) that shifted really, really well- fast, smooth, it was amazing (this was the V12 DB7).  Then AML went to the dual clutch set up, and the Vanquish I drove with it was rather clunky in comparison.  And it's actually really easy to make more conventional automatics shift at light speed- but real customers would not really tolerate that.

IMHO, the fact that exotic cars have it is to sell cars to people that don't have the skills, and market it that it's more like a race car.  Which is fine- lots of people can't operate a clutch, including the hyper rich.  That should not prevent them from owing an aspirational car.

But in terms of comparing the dual clutch auto to an auto focus, I still don't think it's the right comparison in reality, as the actual feature does not bring anything new to the table- it just does it in a different way.  And pretends to be more sporty.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
11/19/20 10:45 a.m.
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) said:

Converting from a 5sp manual to a DSG myself this winter in my race car. Same $ as a dog engagement transmission without the wear issues. Taking over complete mech control with a standalone controller so I can program it how I want. Sure I don't get to shift, but I don't get to miss shifts any more either. Nothing quite sounds or feels like shifts that are tens of ms. I think some of the haters need to ride in a dsg car that's set on kill, it's wild.

What are you using for a controller? I noticed that MaxxECU supports DSG as well as a whole lot of engine controls I am interested in.

 

i generally thought the concept was neat, then I rode in an Evo X on course and witnessed the driver's ability to upshift and downshift in places where in a traditional manual you'd run to the limiter, and was stunned, shocked, and realized what I needed in my life.

BlueInGreen - Jon (Forum Supporter)
BlueInGreen - Jon (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/19/20 10:56 a.m.

Back to back impressions from the passenger seat on track, in order.

C7 Z06 auto: pretty darn good, I can see how people say it’s as good as a manual

Ferrari 488 dual clutch: wow I can tell a difference in shift speed over the Z06

911 GT3 RS dual clutch: holy crap, everything else is put to shame

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/19/20 11:32 a.m.

In reply to 350z247 :

I race two cars; one with a traditional box (Datsun) and one with what is basically an automatic (CVT in the F500).

On track I prefer cars with gearboxes that let me left foot brake; the F500 & motorcycle engined cars let me do that. On bike engines cars other than exiting the pits you don't need to use the clutch pedal, the other plus to them is you simply preload the gear lever and once the motor falls out of the powerband the trans instantly slides into the next gear.

As for focus; having started riding and racing on peaky two stroke motorcycles I pretty much go up and down through the box subconsciously.

Now as for the aforementioned 911 GT-RS; having driven one on track................yes everything about them is amazing. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/19/20 1:42 p.m.
maj75 (Forum Supporter) said:

Head over to the Porsche forum where folks with PDK failures at less than 50k miles are getting a $16-23k bill from Porsche for a replacement.  Ask how they like the new technology.

I've read those threads and agree that the financial severity of a broken PDK is high.  But it's also important to note that a tiny, tiny fraction of the cars that have PDK have had an issue.  And that the implementation gets better with each generation.  The 987's had a higher rate of issues due to inadequate cooling; the 981's have much better cooling and much fewer failures.

There are many many people, including pro drivers in pro race cars, that are absolutely slaying PDK's on the track with no issue at all.

350z247
350z247 New Reader
11/19/20 2:08 p.m.

In reply to ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) :

Agreed. If I were building a racecar Cayman, I would 100% start with a PDK car; if I were buying a weekend Boxster, I'd get a manual. Same goes for an M3 or anyother car that offers both options.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
BfDR06xOnHBmsW1wuGZ4BYQKjEVnNHhd6EjyDHr0oFlFc53zb2ECAc0G1YhQRjyp