Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3   Porsche 911 GT3 rear spoiler
Porsche 911 GT3 spoiler   Porsche 911 GT3 logo
Porsche 911 GT3 mirror   Porsche 911 GT3 pedals
Porsche 911 GT3 rollcage   Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3   Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3 instruments  
Porsche 911 GT3 wheel   Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3   Porsche 911 997 GT3 engine

The last GT3 was as good as a Porsche gets, so can the new one really be any better?
Text: Henry Catchpole / Photos: Matt Vosper
June 2009

The ‘So what’s your favourite car, then?’ question is tricky. I get asked it a lot. It’s a staple query from random, well-meaning people at christenings and engagement parties, most of whom like watching Clarkson & Co on Sunday evenings. I used to launch into a small speech about why it’s simply impossible to pick a favourite and how you need a big barn with at least ten parking spaces so that there’s room for a car for every situation. Five minutes later, just as I’d be explaining why an F40 is not really a choice but a necessity, I’d realise that their eyes had glazed over – they didn’t like cars that much and this wasn’t the quick, satisfactory answer they wanted.

Then I drove a GT3. I still maintain the ten-car principle, but now I always say that if I won the lottery I would walk straight out the next day and buy a 911 GT3 (although this brings its own eye-glazing problems because if people don’t really care about cars then talking in numbers and letters is about as comprehensible as talking Klingon). Anyhow, the point of all this is that the chance to drive the new GT3 is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It’s unlikely that Porsche will have over-egged the pudding and produced a bad car. But it’s just about possible – and I really don’t want to go back to the ten-car explanation.

The first time I catch sight of the new rear wing, centre-locking wheels and road-grazing front spoiler is early morning in a village south of Stuttgart. I’d dragged my legs out of bed at first light to go for a run and everyone is still asleep when I return to the hotel and spy the Porsche Motorsport truck outside. There are a couple of GT3s parked up round the back, dew clinging to their curves. Walking around them in the stillness, there’s nothing particularly striking or unexpected. The rear end looks slightly fussier and the wing is perhaps more function and less form than some of the previous GT3 pushbars, but the new wheels look great, particularly with the 30mm drop in ride height compared with a standard Carrera, which tucks them up into the wheelarches beautifully.

A couple of hours later, while we’re waiting for the press conference to begin, a glance down the spec sheet appears to confirm something that had been worrying me since I’d noticed the numbers on the endplates of the rear wings. The engine is now 3.8 litres, not 3.6. But further investigation reveals that there’s no need to worry. It’s not the direct-injection unit from the Carrera S (lovely though that is), but rather it’s still the titanium con-rodded engine that’s appeared in all GT3s to date – and originally in the GT1 – but with the bore increased from 100 to 102.7mm. The engine was actually used in last season’s GT3 RSR racers, and how it can rev to a heavenly 8500rpm and still meet Euro 5 emissions standards is beyond me, but it does. The flat-six now produces 429bhp at 7600rpm (up 20bhp) and 317lb ft of torque at 6250rpm (up 19lb ft), but Porsche claims that the biggest and most noticeable improvement is in mid-range torque. Combined with a weight of 1395kg (the same as the last GT3) the 0-62mph time has dropped to 4.1 seconds.

At the end of the press conference we’re given a warning about the police in the local area. Then, just before we’re allowed out of the door in an orderly stampede, we’re shown a video of Walter Röhrl (who I happen to be sitting behind) driving the new GT3 in a spine-tingling fashion around the Autodromo del Levante. Sorry, you were saying something about police…?

Outside, all the cars have now been revealed and there is one that stands out. Cobalt Blue is the colour. It hasn’t been seen on a 911 since the 993 generation but it looks utterly stunning. Unfortunately the Americans have nabbed it, so we settle for a yellow car with the no-cost-option Clubsport pack (half cage, battery switch and a fire extinguisher, plus a six-point driver’s harness supplied but not fitted).

This car also has the lightweight carbonfibre bucket seats first seen in the Carrera GT. They are a rather extravagant £3063 option but they save a massive 34kg over the standard sports seats and 10kg over the optional sports buckets from the GT2. Elsewhere inside there is the usual grey Alcantara on all the contact points and the familiar five-ring dials. It’s clearly not an interior designed by someone with flamboyant shirt cuffs and it’s arguably a bit dull for an £82K car, but then that’s never been what the GT3 is all about.

One option that’s not fitted to our car is the lift system for the front axle, which temporarily increases ground clearance by 30mm at the press of a button. Unless you live near particularly vicious road-humps or have a vertiginous American-style driveway, then you probably needn’t bother.

We trundle out of Odenwaldstetten and the GT3’s first noticeable trait is the unashamedly heavy controls. Depress and re-engage the clutch and you can feel the muscles in your foot, shin, calf and thigh working against the pedal’s resistance. All GT3s come with a six-speed manual because, thankfully, it was deemed inappropriate to use the 30kg heavier PDK. The shift itself is short, chunky and feels like it will last several thousand years, let alone miles.

It’s a common misconception that the GT3 has a rock-hard ride. It’s firm and ruthlessly well controlled but there is also uncanny damping which takes the edge off manhole covers in towns and kerbs on the Nordschleife alike. There are two stages to the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) accessible via a button on the centre console. However, the firmer Sport setting is really only for super-smooth circuits. The PASM will also finely adjust its control mapping automatically depending on the speed and road surface.

The roads of the Swabian Highlands are probably the best I’ve driven in Germany. They are (obviously) largely smooth but there are some narrower, bumpier sections too and the corners are frequently very well sighted with their little white marker posts. Turn in and there is tremendous grip from the GT3. Turn harder and there’s more grip. Push the chassis and the Pilot Sport Cups through a long third-gear corner and the outside of your face will actually start to feel like it’s trying to detach itself from your cheekbones. You might have initially thought the seats were a little unnecessarily tight around your rib cage, but not now.

You always know how the weight is distributed in the car and you still have that wonderful feeling of traction out of a corner as the engine pushes a little bit harder at the base of your spine than 429bhp ought. However, the most incredible thing about the new GT3 is its stability and precision. The reaction when you turn into a corner is absolutely instant, faithful and solid, allowing you to pick up a clipping point with complete confidence. It reminds me of the Audi R8 but more hardcore. Under braking too, where a 911’s heavy bum can sometimes start to feel unwieldy as it unweights, the GT3 seems to remain utterly unflustered. Twice during the day I hit the middle pedal very late into an uncomfortably downhill hairpin and still make the apex. It is simply astonishing and leaves you grinning at the sheer absurdity of its limits.

Except in trace form, as the front or rear gently smears through or out of a corner, under- and oversteer simply don’t exist on the road. There are buttons to disable the stability control on its own (presumably for a wet track, where you want help with traction but would like the car to slide) but you’d have to be Walter Röhrl to feel the need to disable it on the road.

Over supper the night before, Carsten Schebsdat, the quietly spoken project engineer for the GT3, talked me through the changes that have been made. First up was a tweak to the front suspension geometry, carried over from the GT2 (and without which the GT3’s big brother was apparently almost undriveable, with lots of snap oversteer…). Then they drastically lowered the centre of roll at the front and raised it at the rear. This was all designed to get the back axle reacting more quickly because, as Schebsdat explained, turn-in alacrity is actually more dependent on the reaction of the rear axle, not, as you might think, the front. This tautening of the rear end is also aided by the new optional (£776) dynamic engine mounts, which help secure the movement of masses at speed. These adjust their viscosity to the style of driving by the use of magnetic fluid and an electric pulse (just like a Ferrari 599’s dampers).

Halfway through the morning’s drive is a brief section of Autobahn where the GT3 hits a composed 189mph in an amazingly short distance before traffic appears. The revised aerodynamics have apparently doubled the downforce over the last generation car.

The road route in the afternoon (obviously we didn’t actually stop for lunch, merely fuel) is arguably even better and the GT3 seems to get more and more impressive in its abilities. And if the thought of all that stability and grip is a bit too clinical for you then there is, of course, the ultimate emotional compulsion for buying a GT3 – the sound it makes. With a new exhaust system its howl is seemingly louder and more glorious than ever, particularly as the engine ramps up at around 4400rpm. If you manage to secure a test-drive then make sure you open the windows.

Because I loved the last GT3 so much I would argue that I came to the 997.2 as potentially its biggest critic, yet I really, honestly couldn’t pick any holes in it. Progress demanded that the new model be quicker, faster and dynamically improved, and it is. And without a shadow of a doubt it is a five-star car. When I sat next to Walter Röhrl in the GT3 later he was still smiling at the car’s abilities. Yet even he admitted that, extraordinary though it is, he enjoys driving his historics because they require more of him. And that’s the only question mark I can throw over the new GT3: is it almost too good? Nah.

Porsche Spyder returns!

Porsche Spyder returns!
All-new entry-level Porsche will share its platform with the VW Bluesport and takes inspiration from original 550 Spyder

Auto Express Car Reviews

23rd June 2009
One of the most revered names in sports car history, the Porsche Spyder, is back! And our exclusive illustrations show for the first time how the sub-Boxster two-seater will shape up when it arrives in 2013.

Based on the VW Bluesport Concept’s underpinnings, also set to be shared with the forthcoming Audi R2, the new ‘baby’ Porsche will be aiming to maintain the firm’s reputation for unrivalled driving dynamics, but in a much lighter, fuel efficient and affordable package than any model in recent memory.

The new Spyder will offer the same open air driving experience as the Boxster, thanks to its folding canvas roof, but at just 3.99 metres long, it will be significantly smaller than the current entry-level Porsche. That means a range of four-cylinder turbocharged engines raided from the VW parts bin will be plenty to deliver genuine sportscar thrills.

Entry-level cars will use a version of the 200bhp 2.0 TFSI engine borrowed from the VW Golf GTI, mounted behind the driver and between the two axles for optimum handling balance. A Sport version will feature the same unit, but turned up to around 280bhp for a scintillating turn of pace.

Prices will start from around £28,000, keeping the Spyder far enough away from the cheapest Boxster’s asking price of around £33,700, while maintaining a reassuring premium over the cheaper VW Bluesport.

Inspiration and the design philosophy behind the new Spyder, comes from the first Porsche 550 Spyder, unveiled at the 1953 Paris Motor Show. The compact two-seater was originally designed for racing and took a famous class-victory at Le Mans. But the notoriously tricky-to-handle roadster cemented its place in history when the Hollywood legend James Dean died at the wheel of one in 1955.

Porsche 911 GT3 myo 2010

Driven: Porsche 911 GT3
Tony Dron takes the wheel of the 2010 Model Year car

The previous Porsche 911 GT3 was so outstanding, it’s hard to imagine how improvement is possible. It’s already safely established as one of the greatest interpretations of the 911 theme that we’ve seen since the rear-engined, six-cylinder sports car first appeared in the early 1960s.

To devise a GT3, Porsche Motorsport takes the standard production model of the day and turns it into a track-day racer which is still civilised enough for everyday road use. A GT3 is for those owners who appreciate the finer points of handling and performance; it is not a car for posers. Based on the 997 body, the 2006 GT3 was a far more satisfying car to drive than the earlier 996-based version which it replaced. The difference was found in the fast corners: the 996 GT3 was completely safe at high speed but it lacked the exquisite handling quality of its successor which was, quite rightly, praised to the skies by every tester who got their hands on one.

Now we have driven the latest GT3, the second-generation 997 GT3, which will go on sale in the autumn – and we have the answer to that question: how could it possibly get better? First, the engine has been made more efficient, resulting in slightly reduced CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, as well as more power. Displacement is up to 3.8 litres, with maximum power up 20HP to 435HP. A noticeable increase in mid-range torque sees 0-62mph in 4.1sec and a top speed of 194mph. The standard brakes have been uprated to suit the increased performance; ceramic brakes remain an option.

Porsche test driver, Walter Röhrl, found he was five seconds a lap faster round the old Nürburgring in the new GT3 than he had been in the previous model. This time, he got round in 7min 40sec and, when you’re down to lap times like that, five seconds is a very big difference. An increase of 20HP won’t save that much time. It’s the advances in aerodynamics which achieved that result, without doubt. On average, downforce has been doubled, thanks to a lowered and reshaped front spoiler plus a more aggressively angled rear wing, which follows a racing pattern. Close to maximum speed, the downforce is five times greater than before, producing 110kg at 300kph. Many hours of painstaking work went into the details, keeping the coefficient of drag admirably low at 0.32.

There are significant changes to the basic chassis set up as well as to the aero side, all aimed at reducing understeer, increasing rear axle stability and bringing a more benign feeling of controllability to an already excellent car. After driving the new GT3 extensively on the road in Germany, it does feel as if all the objectives have been achieved. Through bends on country roads, the steering response is accurate and grip is naturally excellent. Cornered fast, the GT3 is perfectly predictable and it feels very secure. Very close to its maximum speed on an unrestricted autobahn, the aerodynamic stability was perfect.

This time, the GT3 has acquired Porsche Stability Management, with software adjusted to please the fastest drivers. It can be turned off in stages, and that would be interesting on a fast circuit. These are not cars for beginners, obviously, but I think even the most experienced fast drivers will be surprised by how good these systems now are. They don’t intervene in an irritating, dumbed-down way any more. For fast road driving, however, it’s definitely better to leave all the electronic help turned on. I tried it both ways through slow to medium bends and came to the conclusion that it’s much more like hard work with ‘SC+TC’ off, and no quicker at all.

If you want the easiest ride in a 911, get one of the standard roadgoing models and, I suggest, opt for the excellent new PDK (double-clutch) transmission. On the more extreme GT3, you can only have the six-speed manual gearbox, which is 30kg lighter than the PDK. Keeping the weight down was a major objective in planning this GT3 and, at 1395kg, it is not one kilogramme heavier than the old one.

As before, the GT3 remains a civilised road car, considering its performance. It’s easy and unfussed in low-speed traffic and, despite the slightly stiffer springs and dampers, the ride is still surprisingly acceptable. If anything, it’s slightly better than before.

Now, just one question remains: when you get to a fast circuit like, say, Spa, and you point it into those ultra-fast bends, will this second-generation 997 GT3 feel as fabulous as the car it replaces? Well, Walter Röhrl tells me that it will and, thanks to that new downforce, it’s just that bit quicker and that bit more relaxed. Every instinct tells me he’s right there and Mr Röhrl has never told me a lie; ever.

Costing from £81,914, the new GT3 is as attractively priced as ever. Like the last one, which sold out quickly, it’s a real bargain when you look at its rivals. No doubt there will be an RS version announced soon enough, but nothing has been stated yet on that front.

4-cylinder next-generation Boxster ??

Purists might cringe at the thought, but the latest information out of is that Porsche will put a 4-cylinder into the next-generation Boxster, due out in 2011. Possibly an even tougher pill to swallow, it’s rumored a turbodiesel will find its way into Porsche’s mid-engine convertible by 2013!


Why such drastic measures? With ever-increasing emissions and fuel economy regulations, automakers need to find ways to build more efficient cars. And Porsche’s intent with the next Boxster — expected to be launched at the 2011 Geneva auto show — is to build nothing less than the most economical Porsche ever.

To achieve this lofty goal, Porsche will put a small-displacement turbocharged inline 4-cylinder sourced from the VW/Audi family into the Boxster. But fear not, it will still have plenty of power, to the tune of about 270 bhp we’re told. While VW Group’s direct-injected 2.0T is the most obvious choice, rumors have circulated that Porsche might scrap that plan and design a horizontally opposed turbocharged 4-cylinder of its own, which would be more in keeping with Porsche’s boxer tradition and its inherent low center of gravity.

Besides the smaller, lighter engine, Porsche also aims to take weight out of the Boxster’s body and chassis. The new car will ride on a slightly longer wheelbase and have a wider track. Every single body panel will also be new, although the Boxster’s basic silhouette will remain. Notable changes include higher, more pronounced fenders, a shorter front overhang, larger side air intakes and door-mounted mirrors. Although driving a Boxster without the familiar flat-6 wail will be strange, it’s sure hard to argue with a car that’s less expensive, lighter, better performing and more like its spritual forefather, the 550.

The next Porsche GT3 is the 911 for the hard-core enthusiast

By J. P. VETTRAINO

The Porsche 911 GT3

2010 Porsche 911 GT3

Engineers who developed the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 call it “the best of all worlds” in the current 911 lineup: an unsurpassed mix of race, track-grade performance and acceptable street comfort. We’d call the GT3 the coolest and the absolute most engaging 911 to drive, and we’re not suggesting the others are anything close to dull. The irony might be that the next GT3 has neither of two key characteristics that have defined the latest generation of 911s.

The current 911 platform, known to Porschephiles as 997 Gen II, was launched in the fall of 2008 with the Carrera and the Carrera S. Both cars debuted with Porsche’s latest six-cylinder boxer engine, featuring a one-piece crankcase and direct fuel injection, and an optional PDK dual-clutch auto-shift transmission. The GT3 will be the only car among current and future 997 Gen II variants with an old-school, split-crankcase block and conventional sequential fuel injection.

That’s because the GT3 is the homologation car for various production-based Porsche race cars, from the GT3 RSR to Grand-Am Cup cars, and all of them (not to mention the Grand-Am Prototypes) use the old-style crankcase cast in two separate halves. The GT3’s split block engine is more time-consuming and expensive to build than the newer engine, which has far fewer castings in general, and it’s not readily suited to high-pressure direct injection. The good news for Porsche freaks is that the split-crankcase boxer still hasn’t reached its development potential, and the new GT3 drives the point home.

The 2010 GT3 boxer is similar to the previous GT3s, but it’s been bored out an extra two millimeters. Displacement increases from 3.6 liters to 3.8 liters, and the exhaust cams now feature Porsche’s VarioCam variable-timing system. The new 3.8 has aluminum pistons, titanium connecting rods, a steel crank and less mass throughout the valve train, thanks to hollow camshafts and lighter valves. It’s redline increases to 8,500 rpm, and its dry-sump lubrication system uses seven oil pumps to meet the demands of track-level lateral g loads.

The most obvious improvement? The GT3 3.8-liter boxer generates 435 hp at 7,660 rpm, and 317 lb-ft of torque at 6,250 rpm. That’s a whopping 115 hp per normally aspirated liter, same as the previous GT3 engine, with the increase in displacement and an increase of 20 peak horsepower. More significantly, the GT3’s 3.8 makes 50 hp and 7 lb-ft more than the Carrera S 3.8, with its one-piece crankcase and direct injection. Yet thanks to the reduction in internal mass and efficiencies such as improved pumps and accessories, the new, more-powerful GT3 engine improves fuel economy two percent in the European cycle and reduces C02 emissions.

As for the other 997 Gen II trademark–the PDK transmission–purists will be pleased to know that the 2010 GT3 will be available only with a six-speed manual. Its ratios are fairly closely spaced, without an overdrive gear.

Underneath, the GT3 features threaded suspension components that can be track-adjusted for ride height, track width and camber. Its springs are stiffer than any Carrera’s, only now the GT3 comes standard with Porsche’s PASM electronically variable shocks. The control algorithms are more aggressive than in other 911s, but PASM does good things for ride quality when the GT3 is just motoring between points. The 2010 GT3 will come standard with 19-inch center-lock wheels, each five pounds lighter than the previous generation’s, fitted with 235/35ZR-19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cups in front, 305/30ZR-19 rear. Its brake rotors are substantially larger than either the Carrera’s or the previous GT3’s, and Porsche’s ceramic-composite option will be available.

Part of the GT3’s appeal lies in its unique aerodynamics and the look they create. The 2010 model generates five times more downforce than its predecessor, according to Porsche, thanks partly to its unique front end, now custom-tailored for the GT3 and available on no other 911. The rear wing is also larger than before, with prominent side plates, and airflow into and out of the engine compartment is improved. The GT3 sports a cross-length vent below its engine-compartment lid, which you won’t see on any other 911, and unique vertical slits at each end of the rear bumper.

The new GT3 weighs 3,076 pounds wet, or 110 pounds less than the lightest Carrera, and only a pound more dry than the RSR race car. Other numbers look impressive, too: 0 to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds, with an aero-limited top speed of 193 mph, according to Porsche. The development engineers say it laps the Nordschleife faster than any 997 Gen II variant to date–15 seconds faster than a Carrera S with every performance option.

From the driver’s seat, everything in the new GT3 feels more mechanical than it does in a Carrera, but almost subtly, never jarringly so. The shifter might be the biggest change in this respect, and the hardest to get used to. It’s very solid and deliberate, and it won’t find the next gear unless the driver puts it precisely in the slot, but it can be very quick. The hard-core will love it, and they’ll like the heavier clutch pedal as well.

Better, there’s an amazing flow of torque from the GT3, everywhere in the engine’s range. Its boxer six pulls in a gloriously visceral way that few automotive experiences match–and all the way to its 8,500-rpm redline. The gear ratios are nicely matched. While it’s most fun to use them all, the torque is so well spread across the power band that at least two or three of the six gears will work in most situations.

Beyond the engine, it’s hard to decide what we like best about the GT3, though the throttle may be next on the list. The gas pedal has good travel. Once you get used to it, it’s easy to manage the car’s speed or attitude in a corner with subtle movements of the right foot. And behind everything flows the sweet, raspy exhaust sounds. Push the pedal deep enough, and you’ll hear a flap in the pipes reroute the airflow. The roar drops an octave and the decibel level increases.

The GT3 steers with firm directness, and never with the overboosted feel that some very capable competitors deliver these days. Feedback through the wheel makes it easy to tell how much grip is left in the tires. The ride can be surprisingly supple, though what’s fine on Germany’s smooth back roads may not be so in Denver or Detroit. At 150 mph on the autobahn, the firm suspension generates a washboard harmonic over pavement seams, but small, rapid body movement never feels like lift or lightness or even bounciness. The GT3’s tires stay firmly, securely in contact with the road surface.

The 2010 GT3 will offer a couple of new options, starting with dynamic engine mounts intended to improve both handling and comfort. These electronically control the engine’s movement in the car, and they allow higher lateral g loads by maintaining balance, according to Porsche. They also improve cockpit comfort by softening and more aggressively damping vibration when the car is driven at a more casual pace. A new Front-Lift System raises the front end 1.2 inches with the touch of a switch, to get the GT3’s front spoiler in driveways or over low curbs without scraping. It lowers the car again when speed surpasses about 30 mph.

Counting all the Carreras, Cabriolets and Targas currently available, the GT3 will be the 11th variation on the current 911 available in the States. A new Turbo is certain to follow, and probably a GT2. The GT3 will reach Porsche dealerships by fall, at $112,200 plus $950 destination. That’s $35,900 more than the standard Carrera, and the well-heeled hard-core may consider it a bargain.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Take a look at the meanest Porsche 911 GT3 RS ever. This roadgoing track-day special has been spied doing some high speed testing at the Nurburgring – and the differences between it and the regular GT3, which was recently revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, are clear to see.

In addition to the new rear lights and LED daytime running lights of the new GT3, the RS version adds wider front wings, deeper side skirts and an enormous rear wing. Aimed at track day enthusiasts, the wing is adjustable and made from carbon fibre to keep weight down.

Other changes over the regular GT3 include a standard-fit roll cage with increased bracing to add even more stiffness to the chassis and a featherweight plastic rear screen. Porsche’s adaptive PASM dampers will also come as standard while power will come from the same 429bhp 3.8-litre flat six-cylinder engine as the GT3. Expect 0-60mph in four seconds and a top speed in excess of 185mph.

Expect the 911 GT3 RS to make its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September

Porsche Panamera: tech pics

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DSG dual-clutch transmission

DSG dual-clutch transmission

March 13, 2009

By Guy Desjardins

The DSG gearbox, which takes its name from the German DirektSchaltGetriebe, is known commonly in English as the Direct Shift Gearbox.. This type of transmission is called DSG exclusively on Volkswagen products and by other names depending on the car maker. It is generally called DCT for Dual Clutch Transmission in English.

Many manufacturers are presently offering this transmission and it is no longer only for top-end cars or sports cars since it will soon be available on vehicles with smaller engines like the VW Golf and the Ford Focus. Audi calls it S-Tronic and for Porsche, it’s known as Porsche Doppelkupplung, or the PDK Gearbox for short. The term used at Mitsubishi is TC-SST for Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission. As for the Americans, Ford will soon launch a version of the dual-clutch gearbox under the name of “Power shift”.. Nissan has been selling its own dual-clutch gearbox for a little while now, specifically on the GT-R. Dual-clutch transmissions are already very popular in Europe, since they help reduce fuel consumption and vehicle weight, but they are offered to North Americans mainly as an option to help significantly improve the performance of high-end German sports cars.

Not so new after all
The concept of the dual-clutch gearbox is not exactly new. It was invented in 1935 by French engineer Adolphe Kégresse and christened “Autoserve”, and was first installed in a Citroën Traction Avant in 1939. Abandoned for many years, the idea momentarily resurfaced in the 1980s on the Porsche 956 and 962 C competition vehicles as well as the Audi Sport Quattro. However, it would not be until 2003, after six years of work by the Volkswagen Group and its German supplier BorgWarner, that it would return in production vehicles, notably the European versions of the Golf R32 and the Audi TT. Currently, it is its gear change speed and that it simulates the experience of driving a race car that make up the primary arguments for buying it. Since 2008, a seven-speed version (DSG7) has been sold for vehicles with smaller engines mainly for better fuel economy. Since Kégresse first invented it, the biggest innovation to the dual-clutch gearbox is the use of an electronic control to anticipate the choice of the best gear.

How it works
It differs from an automatic transmission with manual mode mainly because of the presence of two clutch packs. In fact, the twin-clutch gearbox is essentially made up of two gearboxes joined by a pair of clutches, one for even-numbered gears, and one for odd-numbered gears. It’s a little like dividing a conventional transmission into two half gearboxes – one for gears 1, 3 and 5, and the other for gears 2, 4 and 6. The best way to understand the concept is through a concrete example.

When the driver starts, the first half gearbox is engaged in first gear, while the second half gearbox is already placed in second gear. The driver accelerates in first gear. When the time comes to shift into second, clutch two intervenes to change gearboxes. The first clutch is disengaged and the second clutch shifts into second on half gearbox #2. At the same moment, half gearbox #1 pre-selects third gear. Next, when the time comes to shift into third gear, the clutch re-engages half gearbox #1 and slides into third gear, which has already been pre-selected. At this time, half gearbox #2 pre-selects fourth gear…and so on. Calculating the next logical gear is the job of the electronic control unit, and not even the transmission knows what’s coming.

When gears are changed progressively in logical ascending order, gear changes are very fast, but non-sequential shifting can mean the loss of precious seconds. Shifting from second to fourth, for example, will take longer since these two gears are on the same half gearbox. The longest reaction time will be when going from second to sixth or from sixth to second since these gears are on the same gearbox and are furthest from one another.

Sequential gear changes, in addition to being fast, help avoid power loss and eliminate lapses of acceleration. When the car is in second, third is already pre-selected by the odd half gearbox, but not yet engaged by the second clutch.. Once the ideal shifting point is reached, the clutch associated with the second gear opens (leaves its position) while the other closes (engages) simultaneously. This overlapping process where one clutch opens and another closes makes for comfortable gear changes in no more than three or four hundredths of a second. Thus, available power is continual and smooth.

Driving with a DSG
Volkswagen’s DSG, like most twin-clutch transmissions, functions using the traditional P-R-N-D-S scale, but the difference is that this transmission operates automatically in both modes, D and S, with D for comfort mode and S for a sportier, more incisive ride. In comfort mode (D), gears are engaged earlier in order to avoid revving too high, which generates less noise and helps limit fuel consumption. In sport mode (S) however, the gearbox makes longer use of the first gears in order to keep the engine in its maximum efficiency range, or at its highest rpm.

So we get torque and maximum power the majority of the time, which is particularly nice in the case of cars with turbocharged engines, like those that German manufacturers Volkswagen and Audi have made their speciality. Although the automatic mode works wonderfully, it is possible to switch to manual mode by moving the stick to the left or to the right to control gear changes but moving the stick up or down. In certain models, it is also possible to switch to manual mode using the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel like in a Formula 1 car. Use the one on the left to upshift, and the one on the right to downshift.

Of the several advantages of this type of transmission, the most obvious is without a doubt, the speed of changing gears which takes place in a fraction of a second. This benefit is clearly appreciated in auto racing where there are thousands of gears changes. Otherwise, for regular day-to-day use and for production cars, this feature doesn’t provide the same advantages.. In fact, for daily use, this type of gearbox mainly helps obtain better output and smoother shifting and reduces fuel consumption, while making accelerating more linear since interruption in power flow. And for driving enthusiasts, there is not doubt that the DSG gearbox brings unparalleled driving pleasure, nearing that experienced by race car drivers.

Basically, the revolutionary direct shift gearbox sets itself apart by gear changes with no lapse in propulsion. In other words, it helps change gears without a noticeable interruption in flow of power and changes gears extremely quickly, to the tune of about 8 milliseconds. For comparison’s sake, consider that the transmission used in the Ferrari Enzo needs nearly 150 milliseconds to change gears. The DSG is also ten times faster than the BMW SMG transmission, which is the fastest automatic transmission with manual mode currently on the market. If we are to trust Audi’s numbers, the gear changes are made faster than they could be done manually. For example, the A3 with a 6-speed manual transmission goes from 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, while it takes only 6.7 seconds with the DSG transmission.

Thus, the DSG transmission is as comfortable as an automatic transmission and as exciting to drive as a standard transmission. Available on more and more affordable models, it is a tremendous success and will probably be the best selling transmission very soon. In fact, only the CVT transmission is smoother and thriftier than the DSG, but it obviously doesn’t provide the same sensations.

Benefits
Ultra fast shifting
Better fuel consumption
No loss of power flow
Gear changes without grabbing or jerking motion
Avoids bad gear changes therefore easier on the engine
Lighter than an automatic transmission

Drawbacks
Takes longer for gear changes on the same half gearbox
Mechanical complexity
More costly to manufacture
Heavier than a conventional standard transmission

Hamann Porsche 911 Turbo

Porsche 911 Turbo is surely one of the fastest sport cars in the world at the moment but of course, there are still some car tuning companies, like Hamann that can modify anything, from Mini Cooper to Ferrari. If you are not pleased with the car’s initial power (480 HP), Hamann created a special performance tuning kit called Hamann Stallion that will boost the engine’s power to 630 HP. To gain this additional power they changed the car’s turbocompressors with new ones that are bigger and stronger and they also installed a new exhaust system made from stainless steel and they modified the car’s engine cooling unit. But the guys from Hamann weren’t pleased only with engine modifications. They also cut around 8 cm from the car’s roof, they equipped the car with 20″ rims, Lambo doors and they also made a lot of modifications to the car’s body kit to make it more aerodynamic. In the end, thanks to all these modifications, the new 911 Turbo will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.3 seconds and it could reach a maximum speed of 359 km/h.