It used to be so simple. Would sir like the manual or the automatic? Nowadays, that choice has extended somewhat.
Perhaps sir would care for a continuously variable transmission, or maybe the robotised manual?
All a bit passé, sir? Then how about the latest craze –the new twin-clutch transmission?
Poor Average Joe in the street has little chance of comprehending what’s attached to his gearstick.
People just about understand manual and automatic ’boxes.
They could probably – on a good day – get their heads around a ‘flappy-paddle’ option (blame Jeremy Clarkson). But ask him to explain the inner workings of a CVT or describe how a DSG twin-clutch ’box actually functions and I’d guarantee a panic attack and sudden impulse to log on to Wikipedia.
Audi is the worst at inspiring Gear Fear.
It has a broader mix of transmissions than any other manufacturer – manuals, Multitronic, Tiptronic, S tronic and R tronic. Can so many ‘tronics’ be profitable in a scale-obsessed business world?
“Offering more choice is good for us – it means we can provide exactly the right option for the customer,” says Michael Schoeffmann, Audi’s transmission boss.
“A chauffeur might like a smooth and stepless CVT, whereas enthusiasts might prefer the uninterrupted acceleration of a twin-clutch ’box.”
Sounds like the plethora of choice is here to stay then.
If anything, the humble manual gearbox is falling out of favour.
Analysts claim that 70% of buyers worldwide will pick some kind of auto ’box by 2014. Even Porsche – last bastion of petrolheads – is considering replacing its manual gearbox with the 911’s new PDK twin-clutch ’box within five years.
So future generations of learners may never again have to grapple with clutch control and kangeroo starts.