2013 Dodge Dart Rallye DDCT: Quick Drive Of Dual-Clutch Automatic Page 2

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2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

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To compare to other dual-clutch transmissions on the market, Chrysler’s DDCT shifts faster than the DCT dual-clutch gearbox in our Six Month Road Test Hyundai Veloster, yet it feels softer and more like an automatic transmission compared to the snappy DSG in Volkswagen and Audi products. On the other hand, in pointing to the VW unit, Nassar is quick to point out that the Chrysler unit won’t need a clutch replacement (or any major service) during a lifetime of 200,000 to 250,000 miles. Clutch-pad replacement is expected only for aggressive or heavy-cycle conditions, and a special heat-warning system in the DDCT safeguards it by smoothing and slowing shifts when the unit overheats—much like your iPhone allowing only emergency calls during a heat warning.

Mopar possibilities?

Nassar admits that enthusiasts might want more of a performance feel for DDCT, and he suggests that such a ‘chipped’ version might at some point be offered through Mopar performance channels.

“With all the struggles in DCT acceptance across the industry, the focus with DDCT was to make it as smooth as possible, make it like an automatic,” said Nassar. “And then maybe down the road if we wanted to please the enthusiasts we could investigate a package that has a unique calibration that gives it a little more bite.”

One note for enthusiasts: DDCT does not force a downshift at full throttle, which we appreciate.

The DDCT was originally designed by Fiat, and is a proprietary combination of transmission units from suppliers, and then designed for the Giuliette and Mito models before Dart development even started. Chrysler engineers developed our U.S. calibration, however, and the unit behaves quite differently here. “We’re incorporating a lot about U.S. driving habits in the unit,” said Mike Merlo, Dart chief engineer, who added that Europe is in turn getting some of our refinements.

And if Americans like it, we could be seeing more of this potentially fuel-saving gearbox—possibly replacing maligned CVTs in a couple of years. While the transmission is only offered with the 1.4T engine because Fiat originally engineered them as a powertrain combination; DCCT isn’t limited to lower torque outputs like the Hyundai gearbox and it could potentially in the future be mated to either of the other engines.

For complete driving impressions on the 2013 Dodge Dart, see our First Drive or browse through the pages of our full review.

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