The Direct Shift Gearbox Explained


Published on June 21st, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


The Direct Shift Gearbox Explained

Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup - Nürburgring

There is no doubt that Volkswagen has been one of the leaders in the automotive industry over the last couple of years and among all the new technologies they have brought to the industry one of the big ones has been their Direct Shift Gearbox or the DSG. This new generation of transmission was a big step forward from the traditional manual and automatic transmissions we have all become accustom to. Although the DSG may seem like an automatic, it works on the basis of a manual transmission and acts as an automatic in a way. Unlike a conventional automatic transmission the DSG has two clutches, each responsible for its own set of gears (one gets odd set of gears and the other gets all the even gears). While one clutch may be engaged in 2nd gear the other one is sitting ready to engage the next gear which is why you get such fast and seamless shifts. Unlike other manufactures out there who have a similar style of transmission, they only use one clutch which results in a rougher “clunky” style of shifting.

How can you have a manual transmission that is an automatic you ask?

With the DSG you have two options. You can leave it in the fully automatic mode where it will drive and shift just like a traditional automatic transmission but with much better accuracy and precision, or you can switch it over to the manual mode where you take control of when it shifts with either paddles located on the 3 and 9 o’clock potions on the steering wheel (one for up shifts and one for down shifts) or simply pushing the gear changer over allowing you to manually select the gears by either pushing up or down. If you decide to switch it into the manual mode, think of it as the computer is pushing in the clutch peddle for you every time you want to shift gears. Every time you pull back on the paddles located on the steering wheel or on the center consol gear selector, the computer shifts either up or down a gear. Now not only is it doing all the labour work for you, but it is doing this with lightning fast precision faster than any human could shift (8-milliseconds which is even quicker than a Ferrari Enzo, which takes 150-milliseconds) and never missing a shift and allowing you to keep both your hands on the steering wheel at all times. While up shifting you also keep your foot on the gas and do not let off to shift as you would in a manual transmission vehicle, and the computer will match the engine revs and provide a seamless shift. This allows for better use of the engines power and even translates to better gas mileage. The DSG gives you advantages from performance, safety, comfort and more efficient. It also helps solve the fight between couples when buying a vehicle where one wants the sporty manual transmission vehicle while the other may want an automatic.

Goodyear f1 650x85(DSF)


The performance advantages of the DSG are obvious as this style of transmission stems from years of use in the Formula 1 racing world and other high performance motor-sports. From the speed of the shifts, no lifting off the gas between shifts to precision shifts every-single time both up and down it brings you just that much closer to what racing teams spending millions of dollars a year are using for a very small fraction of the cost. It really allows you to focus more on what the vehicle is doing while you know every shift is going to be perfect.


You might not think of a performance oriented transmission as a safety feature but you would be surprised. Being able to keep both of your hands on the steering wheel at all times allows you to better control your vehicle in accident prevention situations. The lightning fast shift times whether you are in automatic or manual mode will also give you that instant power right away while merging on the highway or when you need to pass someone on the highway. You don’t want to get stuck trying to look for a gear or waiting for the slow down shift of a traditional automatic when you only have a short time to pass that slow moving truck on the highway. Not everything is about going fast with this transmission either. Even when you are in fully automatic mode it will down shift for you while you are coming to a stop, assisting you in braking using your engine as a fifth brake essentially as you would in a manual transmission vehicle. In the long run could help prolong your brakes.


Comfort and Efficiency

With the DSG system using two clutches rather than just one, you get much smoother shifts and at times you won’t even notice your vehicle has made a shift. It will allow you to always be instantly in the right gear allowing you to either overtake another vehicle or to get the best fuel mileage out of your vehicle.

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