A clear divide between proponents of the traditional stick-shift and supporters of cog-swapping hardware that doesn't require the left foot quickly emerged. While a handful of fans of the conventional torque-converter made their voices heard, many readers expressed a particular affinity for the dual-clutch transmission.
Since this type of gearbox is generally not the cheapest around (and was in fact once pretty much limited to use in high-performance cars), we had a dig through South Africa's new vehicle market to identify the ten least expensive vehicles employing a twin-clutch transmission. This is what we found…
1. Smart ForFour base auto: R210 400
The four-door car from Smart can be had with a dual-clutch transmission aptly branded "Twinamic", which replaces the much-maligned semi-automatic gearbox used in the first-generation model. The twin-clutch gearbox is a six-speeder and in this application is linked to a 66 kW/135 N.m 0,9-litre turbo-triple petrol mill. Higher trim levels (such as that worn by the vehicle depicted above) are available for a bit more cash, while the transmission is also used in Brabus versions (including the ForTwo).
2. Ford Figo hatch 1,5 Titanium auto: R215 900
The second-cheapest dual-clutch-equipped car in SA? The Figo hatch, which makes use of Ford's six-speed Powershift transmission. Here, it is linked to a naturally aspirated 1,5-litre petrol engine worth 82 kW and 136 N.m. Claimed consumption comes in at 6,0 L/100 km. Take note that this powertrain can be had in a sedan body style as well, for an extra R2 000.
3. Ford Fiesta 1,0T Ambiente auto: R239 900
Right behind the range-topping Figo is the cheapest automatic version of the Fiesta. Also making use of a six-speed Powershift gearbox, this Fiesta draws 74 kW (manual models have the full-fat 92 kW) and 170 N.m from its 1,0-litre turbo-triple heart. Claimed consumption is as low as 4,9 L/100 km, while the sprint to 100 km/h takes a claimed 10,8 seconds. This powertrain is likewise available in posher Trend and Titanium trim levels.
4. Renault Clio 88 kW turbo Expression auto: R264 900
Renault’s so-called EDC transmission – which also features six forward gears – is employed by the mid-range Expression variant in the local Clio range. That means it's linked to a 1,2-litre turbo-petrol four-pot, which sends 88 kW and 190 N.m to the front wheels for a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 9,4 seconds. The French automaker says this model is capable of sipping at 5,2 L/100 km.
5. Ford Focus sedan 1,0T Ambiente auto: R267 900
Yes, another Ford. The Focus employs the brand's Powershift dual-clutch transmission, mated to the 1,0-litre EcoBoost turbo-triple. In this application, however, the little engine makes the full 92 kW, which allows for a claimed 11,1-second dash to three figures and a claimed 5,5 L/100 km fuel economy. This powertrain is, of course, also available in the hatchback body style.
6. Volkswagen Polo hatch 1,2TSI Highline auto: R292 300
While the cheapest Polo in South Africa with a self-shifting gearbox is the Polo Sedan 1,6 Comfortline auto, that derivative actually employs a Tiptronic transmission, which is a torque converter. The 1,2TSI Highline auto hatchback, meanwhile, uses a seven-speed DSG transmission mated to an 81 kW/175 N.m turbocharged petrol engine, which allows for a claimed 9,3-second dash to 100 km/h and a claimed combined consumption of 5,1 L/100 km. This gearbox is also used in the latest Polo R-Line model (for an extra R100), linked to an 81 kW/200 N.m 1,0-litre turbo-triple.
7. Renault Duster 1,5dCi Dynamique auto: R299 900
Renault’s six-speed EDC makes another appearance here, although this time it’s married to a 1,5-litre turbo-diesel engine (the only oil-burner on this list, incidentally) sending 80 kW and 250 N.m to the front wheels. Claimed fuel economy comes in at 4,8 L/100 km.
8. Audi A1 3-door 1,0TFSI S auto: R303 500
Audi’s 1,0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder can be had in conjunction with the Ingolstadt brand’s seven-speed S tronic transmission. Peak outputs of 70 kW and 160 N.m translate to a claimed sprint to three figures in 10,9 seconds and a claimed consumption of 4,4 L/100 km. If you’re prepared to spend a little more cash, there is also a better-equipped SE variant as well as a Sportback body style.
9. Renault Captur 88 kW turbo Dynamique auto: R309 900
The third Renault on this list, the self-shifting Captur employs the same powertrain as the Clio above (that is, a 1,2-litre turbo-petrol four-pot with 88 kW and 190 N.m). However, since the crossover is a little heavier than the hatch, it takes a tad longer to reach 100 km/h (a claimed 10,9 seconds) and is slightly less efficient (at 5,4 L/100 km), too.
10. Ford EcoSport 1,5 Titanium auto: R312 900
The final spot on our list goes to the only automatic derivative in the six-strong local EcoSport range. The little crossover employs the same powertrain as the Figo hatch above, but gains an extra 2 N.m. Interestingly, though, the claimed consumption falls to 5,4 L/100 km…
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