“Vorsprung Durch Technik”, or Advancement Through Technology is a common Audi slogan designed to showcase the very essence on which the brand is based upon. Audi likes to innovate, and they want to lead the brand with constant innovation which is why the Audi S-Tronic gearbox exists.
The S-Tronic transmission is a so-called dual-clutch transmission that aims to combine superior performance with efficiency. The first S-Tronic gearbox has been released back in 2008 and ever since then, Audi tries its best to make the gearbox as good as it possibly can be.
In this article we are going to explain what does the S-Tronic gearbox do, how does it operate, how reliable it is, and why you should buy it. The dual-clutch design does wonders when it comes to performance and efficiency and that is why Audi has chosen to offer a DCT over a standard torque converter.
There are some drawbacks to the S-Tronic which are also going to be discussed in great detail below. All in all, be sure to read the article to get a better understanding of why the S-Tronic is as popular as it is.
What is Audi S-Tronic?
The Audi S-Tronic is an Audi branded name used to describe a dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox that enables you to drive your car in either automatic mode or fully manual mode. The S-Tronic is designed to combine all the benefits of a manual gearbox while still offering you the option to simply engage D and let the car do the magic.
The S-Tronic is the latest Audi gearbox while Audi Tiptronic, R-Tronic, and DSG Multitronic are all older gearboxes that are not as advanced as the S-Tronic. Audi has designed the S-Tronic to be able to shift gears without a noticeable interruption in the power flow.
The S-Tronic is also more fuel-efficient than most torque converters out there because it is designed to always drive in a relatively low RPM range. On the other hand, when you engage sport mode, the gearbox tends to keep the RPMs higher in order to always have all the available power on offer.
This ensures a multi-character approach towards designing a gearbox, and that is why the Audi S-Tronic is so famous.
How does the Audi S-Tronic work?
The S-Tronic consists of two multi-plate clutches called the K1 and the K2 in addition to two sub-transmissions that operate the car’s gears directly. These transmission components are both active whenever the engine is operating while only one is always doing the shifting.
More specifically, when you engage second gear and you start to accelerate, the 3rd gear is readily available in the second part of the transmission. This ensures rapid gear shifts without the “shunt in the back” associated with older single-clutch gearboxes.
The moment the K1 clutch opens, the K2 clutch closes, and this is how a DCT gearbox is able to shift so rapidly without feeling jittery or unrefined. The K1 clutch engages the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th gear because it is both larger and sturdier than the K2 clutch which operates the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and reverse gear.
Audi S-Tronic reliability and common issues
The Audi S-Tronic is also a fairly reliable transmission which means that it is a true upgrade over its predecessor. The Audi Multitronic is easily the least reliable gearbox made by Audi, even though it is the most similar one to S-Tronic.
However, the S-Tronic is not completely without fault as it tends to experience issues with the hydraulic unit (Mechatronic), the rear gear selector, the solenoid, a burned clutch. These are typically manifested by the dreaded “gearbox malfunction” warning light and is accompanied by a jittery drive, lots of noise and unwillingness to engage a gear.
Audi S-Tronic versions
Since the inception of the S-Tronic in 2008, Audi has continuously been upgrading it in order to make it as robust and as sophisticated as possible. The very first S-Tronic offers 6 gears, while the current ones offer up to 8 gears for optimum efficiency and power delivery.
Some Audi Sport models use a more robust version of the S-Tronic that is able to withstand more torque continuously. This also enables the launch control mode where you are able to rocket the car of the line for those record-setting 0-60mph times.
Which driving modes does the Audi S-Tronic offer?
The Audi S-Tronic comes with two modes: a fully automatic mode, and a manual mode. The automatic mode also offers two different modes: Drive, or Sport mode. Sport mode makes the gearbox even more responsive while also keeping the engine RPMs higher than usual. In other words, the S-Tronic gearbox in sport mode always keeps you in the maximum power range.
Manual mode enables you to completely take over the gear shifting process through either steering wheel-mounted pedals or by using the gear lever itself. These are a preferred option for those who like to take their cars to the track as the levels of control a manual mode offers is always going to be superior to an automatic.
What are the benefits of the Audi S-Tronic?
There are quite a few benefits to a DCT gearbox. For starters, the S-Tronic is a lot more efficient when compared to an Audi torque converter while also being more controllable, and smoother. The S-Tronic also completely eliminates the shunt associated with shifting gears.
One of the greatest benefits the S-Tronic offers is controllability. The manual mode on offer is better than all the other torque converter transmissions because it literally shifts in milliseconds.
What are the drawbacks of the Audi S-Tronic?
The Audi S-Tronic gearbox is more expensive to buy, maintain, repair, and replace when compared to a more basic torque converter unit. It is also a lot heavier which means that the performance benefits it does offer are a bit sidetracked due to the added weight.
If you are not used to driving a DCT gearbox, you are also going to notice a bit of jitteriness while manoeuvring at lower speeds. This is a common trait of most DCT gearboxes which means that it is something every DCT gearbox suffers from.