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Transmission Compared: DCT vs CVT

The automotive industry has seen a sea change in the last few decades. Transmission, in particular, has undergone major evolution. There was a time when ‘double-clutching’ was the norm. Double-clutching meant that to engage another gear while driving, you had to first shift into neutral and then shift to the desired gear. So, you pressed the clutch pedal twice for shifting one gear. But today, automatic transmissions are a common fixture in our cars for the convenience they provide in Indian driving conditions.

In India, dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and continuous variable transmission (CVT) are two fairly popular automatic transmissions. This is due to the smooth and pocket-friendly ride experience they provide. Since both transmissions determine the ride quality and also how economical running your car will be, let’s learn what distinguishes them.

What is a DCT Automatic?

As the name suggests, dual-clutch transmission functions with two clutches that are operated automatically. Both sensor-based clutches are respectively linked to two cylindrical shafts, which are placed concentrically (one encases another) and are independent of each other. The inside shaft extends out of the length of the outside one and has some gears mounted on it, as does the outside shaft. One shaft has even gears while the other has odd ones. The gears mounted on these shafts remain meshed with loosely-mounted gears (independent) on the output shaft which provides rotation to the wheels.

As the output shaft runs on a selected gear ratio, the sensors predict the next gear ratio calibrating the speed, engine speed, and acceleration or retardation. For example, if the car is running in 3rd gear, the sensor-linked computer will predict the next-needed gear that could be either 4th or 2nd on the subsequent shaft. If the car accelerates the computer will automatically disengage the clutch connected to the shaft with odd-numbered gears (3rd) and engage the clutch connected to the shaft with even-numbered gears, on which it had already kept the 4th gear preselected.

What is a CVT Automatic?

Instead of the gearbox, the continuous variable transmission consists of a set of two cone-pulleys connected by a belt. One pulley is connected to the engine and another to the differential that rotates the wheels. This pulley arrangement can be described as two opposed conical plates, conically-inward with a belt running over their joining. In both the pulleys, one conical plate is stationary and the opposite one is axially movable. The movable conical plate moves closer or farther from the opposite one to increase or decrease the diametrical rotation of the belt. Since both pulleys have the moveable conical plate, the diameter of both can be continuously changed and the vehicle can run on a variety of diameter ratios between the driving and driven pulley. This is how the transmission got named ‘Continuous Variable Transmission’. The whole system is managed by a transmission engine control unit, which hydraulically controls the motion of the movable conical pulleys and provides the vehicle an infinite number of gear ratios (diameter ratios).

Which one should you choose, DCT or CVT?

Mileage

Among all the types of transmissions, DCT is the most efficient as it doesn’t let fuel go to waste during shift in transmissions. CVT, on the other hand, doesn’t lag far behind and is also fairly efficient. The continuous running of the belt among the pulleys doesn’t interrupt power flow to the wheels. Both CVT and DCT are good at fuel economy; however, if you want something that gives you an edge, then DCT transmission is the one for you.

Servicing, maintenance, and replacement

Automatic transmission cars are generally reliable cars and both DCT automatic and CVT automatic cars are similar in terms of reliability and maintenance costs. However, both DCT and CVT automatic gearboxes will require a complete replacement of the gearbox in case of damage. These attract a high cost to replace, and regular maintenance with proper driving practices will ensure the longevity of either transmission.

Driving experience

This is where DCT automatic surpasses CVT automatic. In CVT automatic, since transmission is based on pulley and belt system, and pulley is what transmits power, there’s a distinct lack of response in power flow. A CVT automatic tends to cause a rubber-band effect and takes away the thrill of power that driving enthusiasts prefer. In dual-clutch transmission, although the selection of gears is automatic, the gears mesh the same way as they do in manual transmission, which provides spirited & high-octane performance. This is why DCT automatics are commonly found in sports cars.

Best DCT cars in India

Skoda Kushaq
Skoda Kushaq is one of the best DCT cars in India.

Car

Engine

Mileage

Price

Skoda Kushaq

1.5L turbocharged petrol engine

17.88 km/l

₹17.79 – 19.49 lakhs

Hyundai i20

1L turbocharged petrol engine

20 km/l

₹9.81 – 11.54 lakhs

1.4L turbocharged petrol engine

17 km/l

₹15.15 lakhs

Best CVT cars in India

Honda City
Honda City is one of the best CVT cars in India.

Car

Engine

Mileage

Price

Honda City

1.5L petrol engine

18.4 km/l

₹11.16 – 15.11 lakhs

Nissan Magnite

1L turbocharged petrol engine

17.7 km/l

₹5.71 – 10.15 lakhs

The rising demand for automatic transmission has ensured many cars with DCT or CVT transmissions are now available in India. In fact, many more options are anticipated to be rolled out soon. If you are confused between DCT and CVT, we hope this blog will help you make an informed choice.

FAQs about Transmission Compared: DCT vs CVT

Among DCT and CVT which one gives better mileage?

A. Dual-clutch transmission (DCT) gives better mileage than Continuous variable transmission (CVT).

Which are the most affordable CVT transmission cars in India?

The most affordable CVT cars in India are Honda Amaze, Nissan Magnite, Hyundai i20, Renault Kiger, and Honda Jazz.

Among CVT and DCT transmission, which one is more costly?

DCT automatic transmission is costlier than CVT transmission.

Which is better suitable for long drives CVT or DCT?

Both transmissions are suited for long drives. However, if you want an extra punch from the engine then DCT is the one for you. In CVT automatics you will not be able to make out gear shifts as the CVT has none, you will hear only continuous steady humming of the engine, that is if you can.

How many clutches are in CVT transmission?

Continuous variable transmission does not have any clutch, clutch pedal, and gears.

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