Volkswagen India has officially confirmed that it will phase out its familiar DQ200 7-speed DSG gearbox in the Polo and Vento. The twin-clutch automatic transmission was mated to the 1.5 TDI diesel and 1.2 TSI petrol engines – both of which have also been discontinued in the run-up to the implementation of the BS6 norms. While there is no diesel option for the Polo and Vento, the 1.2 TSI has been replaced by a new-generation 1.0 TSI which was showcased at the ongoing Auto Expo in Delhi. This compact, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, direct-injection turbo-petrol motor develops 115hp – 10hp more than the four-cylinder, 1.2 TSI. Torque is also higher at 200Nm.
The big news, however, is that the 1.0 TSI won’t come with the DSG as expected, but will instead, get two transmission options – a 6-speed manual and a conventional 6-speed torque converter automatic. Volkswagen says with the diesel gone, it wants to broaden the appeal of its petrol-only variants with more affordable transmission options.
Volkswagen Passenger Cars India director Steffen Knapp says, “We believe there’s a room for a TSI in the lower price segment and you can achieve this with a 6-speed manual transmission, which lets you move the price down”. Though Knapp didn’t reveal the exact price, we estimate the manual version could be at least Rs 75,000- Rs 1,00,000 cheaper than the 1.2 TSI DSG version. Knapp said affordability is the reason why the company has moved away from DSG transmissions. “In the future, we want to cater to a wider range of people, and this you can achieve with a normal automatic – there’s no question about it. Our idea is to increase our volumes to 3 percent, as you know. Therefore, we need to make ourselves more accessible, and this you can reach via this strategy.”
Again, there is no word on the price of 6-speed AT-equipped variant but we expect it to be around Rs. 40,000-50,000 cheaper than the DSG variant.
But it’s not just cost factor that has prompted VW to switch transmissions. The DQ200 had suffered from quality bugs in the past, and in Indian stop-go traffic conditions, it’s a touchy jerky and doesn’t operate as smoothly as a torque converter. It’s for these reasons that dual-clutch transmissions have fallen out of favour with some manufacturers, especially at the budget end of the market, despite their improved fuel efficiency and superior performance over other types of transmissions.
In fact, the 1.0 TSI and 6-speed AT combination, as well as the 6-speed manual will also be used in the base variant of the Taigun midsize SUV, which was unveiled ahead of the 2020 Auto Expo and is due for launch by mid-2021. With the midsize SUV segment being the most fiercely contested slice of the market, VW knows it has to be cost-competitive to have a fighting chance. And Skoda India, tasked with the job of developing indigenous products for both, the VW and Skoda brands, is seriously evaluating local production of the 6-speed manual and AT.
The top-end Taigun, which gets a 130hp 1.5 TSI engine, will retain the 7-speed DSG gearbox for a more performance-oriented driving experience. “There’s nothing to beat the shift quality and speed of a DSG and we will continue to offer this option in our higher-end models,” says Knapp.
It’s worth mentioning that the Taigun's engines and gearboxes will be shared with the Skoda Vision IN, which will be launched a few months before the VW arrives in India.
Knapp also hinted that the next-generation Vento, which is based on the Brazilian Virtus, will also get the 1.5 TSI engine, which could make it the most powerful midsize car in the market. However, the all-new sedan won’t come for another 18 months; until then, enthusiasts will have to make do with the 1.0 TSI in the rejuvenated Vento. The 1.0 TSI also marks a major technological shift for the Vento's Czech cousin, the Skoda Rapid, which ditches its ageing 1.6-litre MPI petrol in favour of the smaller turbo-petrol engine.
What will make enthusiasts and traditionalists truly rejoice is the return of the old-fashioned manual gearbox in the Polo GT TSI, which mated to the 110hp 1.0 TSI will give it true hot hatch status. It could even resurrect the hot hatch segment which, after the demise of the Punto Abarth, Baleno RS and Tiago JTP killed off by BS6 regulations, is all but dead.
Knapp is confident that the frugal 1.0 TSI will be a good replacement for diesel in the long term. “The torque is outstanding and so is the fuel economy, and in a market which has moved to 65 percent petrol, I am sure customers will see our TSI engines as a good alternative to diesel”.
What do you think of Volkswagen's decision to drop the 7-speed DSG? Let us know in the comments.
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