What Car Q&A December 2009 - DSG – what's that then?
A) The DSG (or Direct-Shift Gearbox) is a semi-automatic gearbox made by Volkswagen. Unlike a conventional automatic 'box, which uses a 'torque converter' instead of a traditional clutch, the DSG has two clutches. As you select one gear, the next is automatically pre-selected, which enables much faster changes. The DSG is also more fuel efficient than a torque converter, because it wastes less energy.
Although the DSG is technically an automated manual gearbox – rather than a full automatic – it will change gear for you just like any other auto 'box. You also have the option to change gear manually, by moving the gearlever up or down.
At £1110 it's an expensive option, but you should make some of that back in fuel savings. Fitted with the seven-speed DSG gearbox the Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI is more efficient than with a manual transmission.
It's also worth mentioning that it's okay to drive a car with a DSG semi-automatic gearbox if you have an automatic licence.