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  • Boring automatic gearbox car related question
  • leftyboy
    Free Member

    I’m seriously thinking about my next car having an automatic gearbox. My thinking is slightly influenced by my damaged shoulder, getting back to driving after I get my rotator cuff fixed and also just think modern auto boxes are probably OK nowadays.

    So the question is whether anyone has any experience driving auto versions, current models as it’s likely to be leased, of the following:

    Ford S-Max
    Ford Mondeo estate
    Skoda Octavian estate
    Audi A6 Estate
    Volvo XC90

    Probably diesel as I need to tow a trailer once in a while. Wide range I know and part of it is are the more ‘prestige’ models likely to be better to drive in auto form than the Fords or the Skoda?

    craigxxl
    Free Member

    I have an Octavia (CR VRS) with the DSG gearbox. No real complaints with the gearbox their than it can be a bit slow to change down at times and when approaching junctions can leave you in a gear higher than you want so need to knock it down manually. I think this is because they are programmed for economy and change up as soon as they can then hold it a bit longer before changing down.
    I’ve driven a Mondeo a few times with the Powershift gearbox and it feels much more responsive. I prefer the Mondeo in every aspect to the Skoda in build quality and driving experience so will be going back to Ford when I’m done with this car.

    mitsumonkey
    Free Member

    I’ve driven big 4×4 autos for years and they are definitely the way forward. A couple of my mates are now onto autos a Skoda Superb and a VW Touran they say they’d never go back to manual.
    Go auto it’s the future!

    bensales
    Free Member

    I’ve not driven any of those cars, but I have had autos for the last 6 years[1], and would never go back.

    Buy something with a ZF[2] transmission and you can’t go wrong.

    [1] two Jags and a Merc.
    [2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZF_8HP_transmission

    jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    Have the power shift box in our Kuga.

    It’s been a revelation. Wouldn’t dream of manual car for town driving now.

    leftyboy
    Free Member

    Was hoping to go for something small and sporty but my 13 year old son is now 6′ tall and plays a full size tuba so big estate or SUV type car needed!

    Thanks for the comments.

    jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    Chap over the road has just bought a new Ford Edge which looks quite nice.

    wobbliscott
    Free Member

    My wife has a BMW 1 series auto which I believe is based on a ‘traditional’ torque converter style auto. My mate has an SMax DSG style Powershift gearbox and it is much much better than the wifes auto. Having said that though that is a million times better than a manual box. The Powershift is smoother, quicker almost seamless shifts that doesn’t seem to get caught out like the gearbox in the wifes car can from time to time.

    craigxxl
    Free Member

    My wife has a 1 series auto too and hers was pretty poor so did a reset iirc it’s foot flat down on the accelerator, switch on the ignition without starting it the engine and keep your foot down for about 20 secs. You will hear a bit of clicking and neck time you drive it the gear changes are faster and smoother. It works better than my Octavia but the economy is worse.

    nickewen
    Free Member

    As noted above the ZF units are excellent. I have the ZF 8HP auto in my M135 and it’s silky smooth in comfort and smashes in upshifts like a dual clutcher in sport (Chris Harris had to re-record his review of the 1st car with this box as he thought it was a DCT) and sweetly matches revs on downshifts. Bottom line is this ‘box still has a torque converter at the end of it but is a far cry from old slushboxes found in old Beemers and it’s never been “caught out” yet in 1 year and 10K. I think it might actually be linked to GPS in iDrive for optimum gear selection..

    garage-dweller
    Full Member

    On a 2012 Passat dsg auto here.
    The comments above from the Octavia vrs owner above are spot on.
    I’ve done about 6k in mine in three months or so and I’ve adapted to the idiosyncrasies.

    There are little work arounds with intelligent use of the hill hold function and using the manual shift occasionally that iron most of those issues out.

    At first they feel a bit laggy when you pull off hard but you can learn to anticipate that very quickly (I test drove a Octavia vrs and I think it was marginally better – maybe a different throttle or gearbox map)

    I still really like driving a manual (wife’s car and holiday rentals) for a change but for my work use / commute / motorway slogging I’d take the dsg or an equivalent auto every time.

    I also drove the powershift box in a Mondeo and it was every bit as good as the dsg. I got the better price on the Passat so that was the one I bought.

    SludgeJudge
    Full Member

    I haven’t driven auto versions of any of cars mentioned but was lucky enough to drive a Ferrari F430 last week with F1 paddle shift which was fantastic!! Definitely would consider getting a DSG gearbox with paddle shift on my next car.

    johndoh
    Free Member

    I hate the auto box in my A6 3l V6 diesel – it has put me off autos for life, never again – I prefer driving my wife’s 10 yr old Mazda 3 with a manual box.

    garage-dweller
    Full Member

    I got the impression before I bought mine that the 7spd version of the dsg had not been as robust as the 6spd version.

    The 6spd was iirc only in the 2l diesels the 1.6 TDI and petrols have the 7spd.

    Things may have changed as I was buying at four years old and new I’d just rely on the warranty and buy what I wanted.

    johndoh
    Free Member

    And paddle shift is shite for most driving (at least in my car) – the paddles are on the steering wheel so turn with the wheel so it’s bloody difficult to remember which one to shift as one minute you step down on the left, the next on the right.

    It’s fun on twisty roads when you keep your hands firmly planted though.

    craigxxl
    Free Member

    I think the 7 speed DSG had a problem with oil knackering up a sensor, which was fixed with a change of gearbox oil

    craigxxl
    Free Member

    Flappy paddles on my VRS and yes they’re a gimmick as Johndoh states as most of the time they’re in the wrong place.

    mj27
    Free Member

    Have just got a 2L petrol auto S max. It is so easy to drive and manual cars (our other one) seem so much work now.

    Should have done it long ago.

    pdw
    Free Member

    I made the switch to auto recently and have mixed views. It’s an A6 with the much praised 8 speed ZF box, and the gearbox itself is fantastic. For pootling around its superbly smooth yet it shifts very quickly.

    But I still find myself arguing with it over what gear we should be in. Most annoying is when you’re slowing to a junction or roundabout where you’ll either stop or want to go quickly. In a manual, you’d coast up in 2nd gear, ready to go if you need to. In the auto, it wants to be in 4th or 5th, and then when you put your foot down there’s a pause whilst it changes down and the gap that you were trying to pull into rapidly shrinks.

    Similar thing on twisty roads where you’re constantly changing speed. In a manual you can select the gear that you want to come out of a corner in as you approach. In the auto, it only thinks to drop a gear when you start trying to accelerate out.

    Keeping it in sports mode improves it somewhat, and of course you can shift manually, but I find with manual shifting you have to concentrate to know what gear you’re in – in a proper manual the gear stick tells you what gear you’re in.

    On balance I’d probably go for an auto again.

    Flaperon
    Full Member

    8-speed in the V60, would never drive a manual again by choice. Not really had the problem of it choosing the wrong gear, might be a driving style influenced thing? I don’t tend to coast up to roundabouts and then floor it.

    Fuel economy not stunning – 55 (ish) on a long run and in the winter it holds lower gears longer and inhibits lockup to bring the oil up to temperature which is a bit annoying.

    legend
    Free Member

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    after my last experiance in the states last year with a 2.0 ford with an autobox – id love a modern auto box.

    but not that ZF 8 speed that my parents have what a horrid bog down box that is . apparently you can get it remapped so it works but meh – from factory it is about as good as legends picture.

    MY issue with auto boxes in the uk is that they attract a premium on “lower” end cars as no one specs them as it doesnt let them pretend they are jenson button when they are out on country roads so its cheaper to buy a manual .

    molgrips
    Full Member

    There are two types of auto these days. The traditional kind, which are sometimes shite (Volvo, at least til recently) and sometimes good (BMW afaik). However they are always going to be inefficient due to how they work.

    Ford (powershift) and VAG (DSG) have a dual clutch system which is normal cogs etc but with two clutches so it shifts between two gears seamlessly. It’s very good indeed. DSG is pretty mature these days having come out 10 years ago. I would not buy a manual now given the choice.

    Also worth noting that Toyota hybrids (and the people they’ve licensed to – Ford maybe?) are automatic due to the way they work. This won’t work for you though as you want to tow.

    However I’d also question the idea of having diesel to tow a trailer. These days the turbo petrol options are definitely worth a look, and you’ll be cleaner.

    Similar thing on twisty roads where you’re constantly changing speed. In a manual you can select the gear that you want to come out of a corner in as you approach. In the auto, it only thinks to drop a gear when you start trying to accelerate out.

    That’s what manual mode is for. On my car even without the flappy paddles you have full manual control via the main gearstick. It takes a little practice to get used to, but it’s really easy.

    Rockhopper
    Free Member

    I have a Focus with the Powershift box and its very very good – not perfect but very good. However there is an issue with the petrol engined versions which involves an oil seal failing and oil leaking into the clutch pack £800 just for the parts to fix it… The diesel cars (like mine) use a wet clutch so don’t have the same problem.

    Symptoms are juddering on pulling away.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    On our 3rd Skoda with DSG box. Always enjoyed them, easy to get used to. Same box as VW and Audi fwiw

    redthunder
    Free Member

    Auto here. Never go back if I can help it.

    No stress in town driving.Awesome displays on power on the open road, often pinned to seat and it hurts your kidneys 😉

    Honda Jazz CRT a complete auto not some bolt on.

    Dead boring, but brilliant IMO.

    Ps There nothing I cant fit in that car with the magic seats.

    legend
    Free Member

    That’s what manual mode is for. On my car even without the flappy paddles you have full manual control via the main gearstick. It takes a little practice to get used to, but it’s really easy.

    Will it hold that gear though or does it change up at high revs* like most other boxes?

    *probably just when you don’t want it to

    molgrips
    Full Member

    Will it hold that gear though or does it change up at high revs* like most other boxes?

    It will hold it until it can’t hold it any more – either you drop below like 1krpm or hit the limiter. At least that’s what mine does.

    Changing at the wrong time might be due to the mode selected. AFAIK, if have flappy paddles and you are in drive, touching the downshift paddle puts it into a temporary manual override mode designed for overtaking, where you get manual control until it thinks you have completed your manoeuvre then it goes back to auto. You have to do something like press both paddles to get it into full manual mode.

    On mine, I don’t have flappy paddles so I put the shift lever to the left and it’s in full manual regardless.

    wwaswas
    Full Member

    530D with a 6 speed auto here.

    I can’t see me buying a manual car again, the only idiosyncrasy is the slight pause at junctions whilst it decides what you’re trying to do.

    Long journeys with the cruise control are great it sorts everything out.

    I suspect fuel consumption is much better as the ‘box changes to the ‘right’ gear when I’d probably be lazy and leave it in gear and make use of the torque.

    I’ve never used the manual override, although I make full use of the torque in conjunction with the kick down on occasion…

    andyg1966
    Full Member

    BMW 330d here with 8 speed ZF sport auto.

    In sport+ mode and manual on the gear lever, the box does not change up at max revs. In all other modes the gearbox will change up right at the last second.

    In sport+ and sport auto (there is sport for the gearbox and sport for the throttle response) the gearbox bangs through the changes at lightning speed when accelerating hard.

    In normal modes : super smooth.

    Really an near perfect box.

    woody74
    Full Member

    I have a VW T5 van with auto and love it. Economy is still really good and brilliant for town driving. I would certainly buy another. In the days of now trying to drive safely and efficiently a manual is just a hassle. Its not like I ever rant a car or van nowadays where a manual would be better. I actually also prefer to drive diesel car as I think they feel better. What does that say about me, I like diesel autos!! Is this something I should be worried about?

    tonyg2003
    Full Member

    We have four autos. 6speed torque converter, 7 speed torque converter, 7 speed PDK and 9 speed torque converter (in order of ages). The new PDK and 9spd are amazing things. Really I cant see a reason for going back to a manual.

    However for the OP – go and drive the cars on your list and decide for yourself.

    Dorset_Knob
    Free Member

    DSG Passat here.

    Making progress? ‘S’ mode is your friend. I never bother with ‘manual’, although I did just spec a manual box on my Targa 4S*, but that’s a different type of car.

    * Just ‘evaluating’ the configurator at work.

    johndoh
    Free Member

    I find with manual shifting you have to concentrate to know what gear you’re in – in a proper manual the gear stick tells you what gear you’re in.

    I totally agree with most of that – but I would go as far as to say that simply having your hand on a manual gear stick means you intuitively know what gear it is in.

    I am going straight back to a manual for my next car.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    simply having your hand on a manual gear stick means you intuitively know what gear it is in.

    After a bit of practice I know what gear I’m in from the engine noise. And the tach if I need it. Or I just remember – like in a manual.

    andytherocketeer
    Full Member

    the dash tells you what gear you’re in, if you really need to know. but really you don’t need to know – the car does it for you.

    had the fat Fiat 500 cinqucento (500x? think it has different name in some places) as a rental car recently, which had a 9 speed auto box. that was alright, but feels strange when you’re already in 6th on a 30-40 limit road leaving town.

    I have no intention of buying manual again.

    Hob-Nob
    Free Member

    8 speed in an F11 5 series diesel.

    Awesome, hate driving a manual now – it’s just crap by comparison.

    Car had the flappy paddles as an option, think I have used them once.

    johndoh
    Free Member

    the dash tells you what gear you’re in, if you really need to know. but really you don’t need to know

    I don’t like taking my eyes off the road, even less so when I am being a bit racy, which is what I would be doing if I was using the flappy paddles.

    I know what gear I’m in from the engine noise.

    My A6 is so sound insulated it is often very difficult to hear the engine!

    wobbliscott
    Free Member

    Since when do you need to know what gear you are in when driving a little bit racy? All you need to know is whether you need to select a higher or lower gear than what you are in and you can easily tell that by the feel of the pull of the car or the engine note. and in anycase when you’re driving a bit racy you need both hands on the steering wheel and not one on the gearstick.

    Anyway, when you drop into sports mode the gear number comes up on the dash if you really need to know.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    I don’t like taking my eyes off the road, even less so when I am being a bit racy, which is what I would be doing if I was using the flappy paddles.

    *shrug* I manage fine.

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