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pdk paddle shift conversion Related Articles

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pdk paddle shift conversion Q&A Review

What advantages do manual cars have over automatics now that technology has advanced so much? And is one still preferred over another by experienced drivers?

I think the debate is not auto vs. manual as much as it it meshed gears and clutch vs. torque converter and planetary gears hydraulic transmissions. The second kind is always automatic, and is the classic “US-style” auto transmission. For the first kind it really does not matter. It can be actuated through a gear lever in a pure manual fashion, or the gear lever (and clutch) can be actuated by a series of electro-hydraulic actuators to become a robotized gearbox, then the controller that orchestrates the gear changes can be acting automatically, or through various driver-actuated switches such as a joystick or steering-column mounted paddles. Depending on who decide when to change gears, it can fall under automatic or manual, but it’s still a clutch and gear gearbox with a primary and secondary shaft, so essentially “a manual” even if the gear selection forks are actuated electro-mechanically. The VW DSG and Porsche PDK sharply fall into the “clutch and gear” camp: they are essentially two gearboxes, one handling the odd gears and one handling the even gears, with two clutches and electro-hydraulic actuators that pre-select gears and quickly “mix” between the clutches to change from one gear to the next. They use concentric shafts and clutches to save space but they are largely normal gearboxes with some clever packaging twists. Koenigsegg pushes that concept further by using essentially one clutch per gear, enabling constant time shifting from any gear to any other gear. Finally the so-called sequential gearbox also fall into the clutch and gear camp, with a linear actuation mechanism instead of H-pattern and with or without synchros, and come in manual or robotized form. The essential difference comes when driving the car. Clutch and gear transmissions are literally solid when engaged. There is nothing slipping and no torque converter in the drivetrain and the crankshaft is directly connected to the wheels through the flywheel, clutch, and gearbox. How gears gets changes in that arrangement bu hand or by a actuator replacing the hand, is entirely irrelevant. What is important is when - for example - the driver lifts the throttle, the engine drag instantly causes the car to slow downs and loads the front wheels. Conversely, without the slightest delay, any change depressing the throttle instantly affects the power transmitted time the wheels with zero lag whatsoever as the entire drivetrain is rigid when a gear is engaged. This means the power instantly loads the rear and indices a rearward longitudinal weight transfer. This enables the driver to finely control front-rear the car balance during cornering, in particular during limit cornering, something that is completely impossible with an “elastic” torque-converter based transmission which tends to up-shift on lift-off (unloading the front and causing the car to oversteer and get off the line) and any attempt to quickly add more throttle is diluted and delayed until the driver frankly floors it, causing a downshift which it far, far too much of an extra torque input to keep the car balanced. So the hard bottom line is as follow: it is impossible to go though corners quickly with a US-style torque converter-based automatic transmission. Limit cornering requires a solid connection between the crankshaft and the wheels, and thus literally a direct and instantaneous action of the throttle on the car’s longitudinal balance, which is what all clutch-and-gear gearboxes provide, irrespectively of their actuation mechanism, manual, or robotized. The message that says that even supercars are automatic is misleading. There is no torque converter on those cars (with the possible exception of some variants aimed at the US market perhaps - I’m not a historian), merely a robotized classic, solid gearbox.


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