BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and even Mitsubishi have come to market with dual-clutch transmissions in the interest of power, economy and refinement. Until now Fiat Group – including Ferrari – has done without dual-clutch gearboxes, eschewing them for traditional automatics, manuals and various manu-matic or semi-automatic gearboxes. Come September 2009, however, that will change with the introduction of the C635 transmission line.

Initially available in June 2009 as a manual, an automated manual (AMT) will follow the dual-clutch box in 2010. Although capable of handling around 343Nm of torque, the C635 will be used primarily in small- to mid-sized cars, such as the Fiat Grande Punto and Fiat Bravo. Alfa Romeo and Lancia will also use the transmission in their small and medium lines.

Full capacity production for the C635 plant is expected to be 800,000 units annually, although that number won’t be reached until all three lines are being produced in 2010. Production of the new gearbox will take place in Fiat’s new transmission plant in Verrone, Italy. Staff at the 500-person plant will more than double to approximately 1100 workers once production of the C635 is in full swing, according to Automotive News.

More and more car makers are employing these high-tech gearboxes - increasingly, in their most prolific cars. This can only be good for the industry - and the enthusiast - and with luck we should see their use expand exponentially as they gain a foothold in the manufacturing sector. The performance and economy benefits of the dual-clutch gearbox are undeniable; now it's just a (brief) matter of time until the gearbox of the future becomes omnipresent.