By on June 4, 2008

car_photo_264021_25.jpgAutoExpress offers a "review" (in the Motor trend sense of the word) of the European Focus, complete with Ford's new dual clutch gearbox. Parsing AutoExpress' usual PR puffery, it's not sounding amazing. Whereas VW's DSG is a viable alternative to a manual transmission– it accelerates faster than rowing your own and returns even better mileage than the stick– Ford's sounds little better than a bog standard autobox. AutoExpress says "But there are no steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters with which to change up or down – and no Sport mode on the box, either – as Ford is keen to stress the gains in economy and emissions offered by Powershift, rather than its outright sportiness." Right, so that puts the "stick replacement" theory to bed. It's just a better automatic transmission. AutoExpress also notes that the Powershift's a very expensive option only available on higher end cars (this is what VW does, too, but not as badly). The rumor is that PowerShift is coming to the US (would be great paired with EcoBoost). Let's hope FoMoCo's boffins reprogram it not to suck.

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11 Comments on “New Ford Powershift Paddle Shift Not So Hot?...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I really worry about these systems. There’s an ugly level of complexity that seems to combine the worst of the valve/solenoid/sensor bonanza in an automatic with the clutch-wear of a manual.

    I’d like to know, from an engineer’s perspective, whether these would be more or less reliable than a CVT. Having seen a CVT’s internals, I’m inclined to prefer it’s inherent simplicity.

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    I clicked on your link and amazingly enough found that the actual article praises the gearbox. I’m trying to figure out how you get “suck” from this:

    “Ford’s first attempt at a dual-clutch transmission has come late, but perhaps all that extra development time has paid off – because the Focus Powershift is a truly impressive effort. By combining the point-and-go ease of a traditional automatic box with the performance, fuel economy and emissions of a manual, many will find the Powershift the perfect fit. The only drawbacks are the lack of a Sport mode – and that price!”

  • avatar

    Hmm… yeah… um…

  • avatar
    bleach

    You get to “suck” because that paragraph just says you have a nice autobox but at a higher price.

    Justin already said it but VW’s DSG out accelerates its respective manual offering, delivers at least equivalent mileage and offers paddle shifters. The powershift does not. So why pay more for the powershift over the existing autobox.

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    “Justin already said it but VW’s DSG out accelerates its respective manual offering, delivers at least equivalent mileage and offers paddle shifters. The powershift does not. So why pay more for the powershift over the existing autobox”

    I thought the whole point was to improve fuel efficiency in an automatic transmission. The powershift improves mileage over a traditional automatic and is much smoother.

    Complaining that it doesn’t improve performance seems contradictory to the typical lampooning an automaker will receive if they increase horsepower instead of fuel economy.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    If you design the user input for a manumatic correctly(almost no one does), you won’t want/need paddles. Paddles (unless they are big, heavy, and metal with good shift action) just seem detached and impersonal.

    Btw, the right method:
    1. Shifter towards driver for manual mode
    2. Shifter rearward for upshift, forward for downshift.

    Looks like they’ve got it right here, as long as they do it mirror image for left-hand drive, to fulfill #1. I say bravo.

  • avatar
    offroadinfrontier

    psarhjinian:

    I’ve wondered the same thing for a while now. CVTs are inherently less complex (mechanically), which leaves much less to wear & tear.

    CVTs, in theory, should offer the best mileage, since the engine is always at optimal RPM. When they are developed to handle more power, (again theoretically) a CVT should be able to outperform any type of transmission; no shift delay whatsoever, optimal RPM up to top speed.

    But, as far as the dual clutch design – since there are 2 clutches, wear is effectively reduced by half. Properly designed manuals can be found with OEM clutches sometimes past the 200,000 mile mark, if the driver drives right. Assuming no parts failure, the clutches in these DSGs should be able to outlast the actual transmission. Again, though, properly maintained & driven manuals can be found to last as long as the car.

    I’d love to see a scientific study comparing a CVT and DSG on the same engine/car. Which lasts longer? Which can handle high RPMs longer? Which of the two can be driven harder? Also, what happens when they DO get damaged? Any failsafes? (I’m referring to known Auto transmissions that are known to drop to a low gear at high speeds locking tires and throwing cars all over the place, etc.)

  • avatar
    bleach

    The appeal of DSG in this current climate may be mileage, but that wasn’t the appeal to most VW owners who bought that option in the prior years. The appeal was the supreme compromise of leaving it in auto when wanted and to have instant response/performance for fun. Seriously, if you try it out in an A3 or GTI, you’ll see how flexible VAG’s implementation is for switching between convenience and performance.

    Once Ford has this in production and priced, buyers can figure out if the additional price is worth it. I’m not trashing Powershift, but it really wouldn’t hurt to have a sport mode at least.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    cant say against CVT but I believe since the computer does the clutching and shifting, it is more durable than if you or I do it. They can take out materials and have it last longer anyway.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I had a Honda Civic 1500 once, the clutch according to the ex-owner was 3-4 yrs old.
    It also failed to my surprise. Is not due to the friction material worn out, but due to high temp cause some debris came off jammed the clutch together. Rendered u cannot disengage the clutch at all.
    When the mech drove her in to repair , she was fine, but fine for how long? When the clutch came out there was a fair amount of meat on it too, except the debris came off due to high temp.

  • avatar
    Chui

    If it’s to improve fuel economy then it definitely needs a new name POWERSHIFT = performance improvement to me.

    YES! Someone else who perceives things as I: shift rearward for UPshifts and forward for DOWNshifts.

    P.S.

    That will not likely happen.

    I do think it’s probably better to be on the wheel but not attached TO the steering wheeel.


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