There are great many stories about the enormous changes that have taken place in this universe. So the human’s desires too change from time to time. And so are automobiles.
There are momma’s boys who sit happily in the back seat of MERCS, there are lunatics who put a huge engine in pick-up trucks and crash, there are rich Rolls Royce owners shouting ‘Hey You Little man! Out of my way!’ and there are people like me who adore some of the insanely fast cars.
Today we no longer need cars with a twelve liter W23 engine that is able to move the moon out of its orbit. Simply we put a tiny engine on an ultra light chassis and for that little bit of extra thing we have turbo chargers and super chargers, and drive it back home at a million miles an hour. We have hot hatches and tiny roadsters that give us drawback free motoring.
Driving is all about going in a pantaloon. In that world there are no compromises and we are not even ready to waste time in the attempt to shift gears. It seemed that someone had been listening to the cries of the motorists, when the Volkswagen engineers came up with a solution. Direct shift gearbox.
Let me put it like this. If someone wants to use two gear boxes to reduce the shifting time, the idea may sound a bit crazy to you. But the Germans thought the other way. They put the two clutch plates concentric to each other and electronically controlled the shifts. One clutch has first, third and fifth gears; and the second clutch holds the rest. When you are driving first the other clutch is ready with the second gear.
When you shift, the clutch is disengaged and the next clutch with the second gear is engaged and all that takes places in a biblical eight milliseconds. That kind of time is genuinely staggering and makes even the sequential manual transmission of the ENZO look old-fashioned.
These are already available with all VW owned company cars like Skoda’s, Audi’s, Bugatti’s and Lamborghini’s. In the D-mode all the gears short shift which honestly will appeal only to the executive population, whose life is mind-numbingly boring. For men who want the back of the car coming into play in corners we have S-mode that takes you to the sweet red line every time. And then there is a Tip-tronic mode where you can give your suggestions, but it will do shift on its own anyway.
Coming to why we need such a thing, the answer is quite simple. The shifting is unbelievably fast. Current day sports cars are so obsessed with technology that we simply can not enter in and drive. The gear box indeed saves a lot of time to make up for the time you have lost in playing around with the settings.
You put that gearbox in a racing car, it saves a fraction of a second in every shift and finally several seconds may even be a minute. That is exactly more than the difference between Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil. But that is the upside.
All nice things come with a price. The downside is it is expensive and heavy. And it is not easy to make either. But my worries have nothing to do with the cost.All cars are becoming brilliant, that is the problem.
They have been losing the sense of craziness over time. They make you feel rich, proud and comfortable but they can no longer make you smile.And all the electronics make the driving feel as good as playing a video game, which means no analog feel, no human feel anymore.
One more annoying thing in recent cars is the absence of gear lever itself. The paddles are mounted behind the steering wheels so you can’t take a hand from the wheel.
That floppy paddle non-sense is a brilliant gear box for the rest of the world. But for me it isn’t. The plain old gearbox may not be so brilliant, but is a lot more fun.