Happy Memorial Day! Please don’t forget to thank a soldier for what they have done for you. Today is a day that was created to remember and honor the great men and women that have served and continue to serve this great nation. Believe what you want about this country, but always know that you wouldn’t be able to believe it without the United States Military.

Thank you!

Dual-Clutch versus Manual Transmission

I will say this to you right now. You have seen the title, I’m sure you already know exactly what I am about to say, but here it is. You can’t say that one is better than the other without causing a tiff. I personally love both ways of shifting. As a true car enthusiast you have to enjoy just getting in any car and driving it the way it was meant to be driven; whether it be manual, automatic, or a dual-clutch tranny.

Of course, you have read what I have to say before about automatics with paddles and you have seen my rumor that Ferrari is thinking of dropping their manual cars all together. I personally love driving a manual. Yes it sucks driving it in traffic. It’s annoying because no one in front of you is curteous enough to drive just a little quicker to allow you to put it into second gear. Oh well though. I have learned to deal with it. You know that I drive a Mazda Mazdaspeed 6 (possibly about to purchase an BMW E39 M5, one of my favorite cars. Keep your fingers crossed) and enjoy every second of its all-wheel drive and 6-speed manual goodness. All I can think about when I drive the family SUV’s, Jeep, F-150 and the likes, is how much longer I have to go without driving my manual, and how much closer the time is coming to when I can drive it again.

I have driven numerous cars in my 22 years of life. I have amassed well over 200,000 miles in cars since getting my license. One of the best things that I’ve ever done is driven different cars with paddle shift transmissions. They are so unique and sublime in other ways that most people wouldn’t like or understand. I always did like the BMW SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) transmission, and I can’t wait to try the new M-DCT (Motorsport-Dual-Clutch Transmission). It is supposed to be even faster…

The Ferrari F1 tranny is supposed to be the best in the business. When Ferrari has one of the top Formula 1 teams in history, I would kind of expect them to start migrating such great technology to the streets. A Ferrari F430 F-1 will shift in just 80 milliseconds. The new F430 Scuderia will shift in 60ms. Just so you understand how fast this is, a Formula 1 car shifts in 30ms…

There is a huge difference between a dual-clutch and a true manual. Both in my opinion are manual transmissions. One is more versed on making you do the work, while the other utilizes a computerized human doing the clutch work. It does also feature two clutches instead of one. Dual-clutches are used in order to get quicker shifting times. One clutch works gears 1, 3 and 5, (sometimes 7 as well when talking about BMW’s SMG and M-DCT) while the other maintains gears 2, 4 and 6. This is very important. For example, you are in first gear, you are speeding up through the revs and as you speed up the second clutch is preloading the next gear to insure that when you shift it’s right there for you already. How’s that for a manual?

When racing on the track and going up and down through the gears rapidly and quickly there isn’t anything that can beat a twin-clutch. I love how my father looked at me earlier today and made a smart ass comment saying “what do they use in Formula 1? And why is that?” Hey, that is all good and well. But why is it that Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna, Mario Andretti, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Gilles Villeneuve, Alain Prost, Derek Bell and Hans Joachim Stuck, to just name a few, are listed still as some of the greatest drivers of all time? There are records of these men that still stand. They didn’t have the electronic stuff that the guys have today, and they could still easily get into a race car and kick ass.

There are numerous automotive companies that use such technology. We have talked about Ferrari and BMW. Lamborghini has their own E-Gear, VW and Audi have the DSG and S-Tronic boxes. Mercedes-Benz has supposedly perfected their own dual-clutch transmission for the 2009 SL. When I drive that car I will let you know how that worked out for them. Until then I have to go by what the magazines say. They claim it’s on par with the others.

Pretty much everyone has their own paddle shift transmission. Whether it be an automatic gearbox with paddles like Corvette and Aston Martin, or a true F1 style transmission like Ferrari and BMW.

There are major differences between a dual-clutch transmission and an automatic that has paddles. An automatic with paddles is, well, just that. It has a computerized clutch just like all automatics, but instead of the clutches preloading the next gear, it just shifts it. It may not be as fast but it is much smoother. Where as the F1 style transmission jerk you hard into your seat. They are not made to be comfortable, even if you do push the button(s) to put them into straight automatic.

There are a lot of electronics running the F1 transmission cars. That doesn’t bode well when something breaks. You obviously have the money to replace it if you are already driving the car, but still, it isn’t pretty when you start frying clutches because you did two or three hard launches. It doesn’t help the gearbox at all either. With a manual gearbox you can still smoke the clutch out or even hurt the gearbox, but it is by far less sensitive and a hell of a lot less expensive to replace.

You kind of have to be the judge on which one you would prefer. Both are great means of driving around. Both are fast ways to smoke someone at the lights, but there can really only be one that you would want all day, every day. Me? I’ll take the manual all day long. If I’m at the track, I may switch to the F1. But until then, I’ll just have to continue to complain about the traffic. I’ll manage.

I guess the moral of this article, outside of the fact that I prefer manuals, is that you can have whatever you want these days. A manual can be your choice for everyday or it can be the one you’d least want. Either way you are getting a great car. Both are meant for racing. I guess I just strongly dislike the fact that I can’t push the clutch in and switch gears myself. Also, I dont like the fact that more people buy paddle shift cars so that they can look good.



Photos courtesy of: Geocities and European Car

Memorial Day photo by Mind Wobbles