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Future light Volkswagens may drop DSG

Future move: The next VW Polo (current one pictured below) may do away with the DSG (left).

Volkswagen might return to conventional, non-DSG auto for light-cars

Volkswagen logo2 Oct 2013


VOLKSWAGEN’S future light vehicles could switch to an eight or nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, with the next crop of DSG dual-clutch units reserved only for vehicles of Golf-size and beyond.

According to Volkswagen head of transmission development Michael Schaefer, the second-generation Up and sixth-generation Polo due in the second half of this decade will most probably use automatic transmissions supplied by an outside source such as Aisin or ZF – though a final decision has yet to be made.

“We are considering a number of torque converter automatic alternatives for the next Up and Polo,” he told GoAuto Media at the launch of the Mk7 Golf GTI in Tasmania this week.

“We are looking at an eight-speed Aisin or nine-speed ZF transmission… but we have not decided on which one as yet.” The reason behind this shift is not a reaction to the recent power-loss issues that have afflicted certain DSGs over the last few years, Mr Schaefer revealed, adding that Volkswagen has addressed the highly publicised problems.

Instead, the move centres on economies of scale, as there isn’t the global volume to justify the cost development of a new-generation DSG suitable for a B and sub-B vehicle installation.

Plus, the fuel efficiency gap between a dual clutch and torque converter automatic has closed dramatically, with only about 0.2 litres per 100km in it, according to Mr Schaefer. Ten years ago, that figure was upwards of 1.5L/100km, he said.

Furthermore, the senior engineer explained that city car drivers prefer the instantaneous take-off acceleration as well as the reduced noise/vibration/harshness properties provided by the torque converter automatic transmission applications.

This is especially true for North American and Chinese consumers, who seem to have distaste for the DSG’s operational characteristics.

“Volkswagen already buys 1.5 million Aisin torque converter transmission for our US and Chinese customers… for models such as (their unique) Passat and vehicles with the 1.6-litre MPI petrol engines,” Mr Schaefer said.

Finally, he explained that it is not ideal to install a nine or 10-speed DSG in vehicles with engines producing less than 200Nm because there is insufficient torque in the higher gear ratios to hold or maintain higher speeds.

In order to accommodate the upcoming torque-converter auto, it is understood that the 2016 Polo replacement will be built on a variation of the new MQB-A0 platform underpinning the latest Golf, but will use a new modular front end version of the NSF architecture originally devised for the current Up and its spin-offs.

But this does not mean Volkswagen will abandon the DSG, with company head Dr Martin Winterkorn announcing in April that a 10-speed is in the pipeline, for application in D-segment (medium-sized) vehicles and SUVs, and beyond.

There is also a new family of modular DSG transmissions under development based on the heavy duty DQ500 seven-speed unit currently servicing the high-performance Audi TT-RS as well as the T5 Transporter/Multivan commercial vehicle range.

Dubbed the DQ380, this next-generation DSG will most likely appear first in a 2.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel application later next year in the new MQB C-segment models based on the latest Golf.

As a replacement for the original six-speed DQ250 DSG, Mr Schaefer says it can handle up to 420Nm of torque.

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