A dual-clutch gearbox is, as the name suggests, a gearbox that uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets. A dual-clutch gearbox benefits from smoother and faster high-speed gear changes that enable the car to accelerate faster and offer a more pleasing driving experience, as well as better fuel efficiency.
Mercedes uses a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) gearbox in many newer models. The benefits of a DCT gearbox are especially exploited in the AMG performance division. Mercedes started offering a DCT gearbox with the SLS AMG in 2010, and a DCT has made its way into many newer AMG models as well.
AMG performance sedans with a DCT
Mercedes C63 AMG is the smaller Mercedes sedan that offers a 4.0-liter V8 BiTurbo engine mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The C63 comes in two different variants, the C63 and the C63 S, which increases the sportiness of the C-class even further. The C63 S offers 503hp and a 0-60 time of around 4 seconds.
The previous generation E63 also used a double-clutch gearbox, and AMG ditched the DCT for the 2021 redesign of the E63 because a torque converter automatic was able to offer a smoother driving experience at lower speeds, while still being able to offer shift speeds that are comparable to the DCT.
The E63 uses a similar 4.0-liter BiTurbo V8 engine with an impressive 612hp in the 63 S variant. This enables the double-clutch version of the E63 to sprint 0-60 in a supercar rivalling 3 seconds.
Mercedes also offered the 2013 Mercedes CLA with a double-clutch 7-speed transmission.
AMG performance SUVs and hatchbacks with a DCT
The Mercedes AMG GLA 45 is an entry-level Mercedes sub-compact crossover SUV that also uses a 7-speed DCT gearbox. The GLA 45 is powered by a 2-liter 4-cylinder engine with 360hp and 0-60 times of less than 5 seconds.
The Mercedes AMG GLC 63 also uses a double-clutch gearbox mated with a 4.0-liter V8 BiTurbo engine. The GLC is somewhat like a C63 on stilts, so most power statistics that apply to the C63 also apply to the GLC, except for the 0-60 time, which is a bit slower.
The GLE 63 S AMG that was produced between 2016-2018 also offered a double-clutch automatic transmission, mated to a 4.0-liter BiTurbo V8. But the later models adopted a more traditional automatic gearbox, such as the case with the E63 as the DCT gearbox offered fairly jumpy low-speed gear changes.
Non-AMG Mercedes DCT models
While most of the DCT gearbox powered Mercedes cars were AMG versions, Mercedes also offered a couple of regular models with a DCT gearbox. The goal with these models was not necessarily a sporty experience, it was more a means of increasing the efficiency
A year or two ago, Mercedes introduced the new A-class, and this version of the A-class stole many customers from the competing brands due to its striking interior and exterior design. One of the main selling points of the new A-class was also the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission mated to a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine.
The same engine can be found in the newly released B-class. The B-class is a larger family hauler that shares its powertrain with the A-class. The same performance figures are being published, but it is expected that the A-class should return better MPG results due to its smaller size and a more aerodynamic profile.
The Mercedes CLA also shares a bunch of its components with the A-class and is also being offered in a dual-clutch 1.4-liter 4-cylinder variant. It’s also fairly obvious that this powertrain is not the bleeding edge of performance, but shows a rather a more fuel-friendly usage of the DCT gearbox.
Things to know about DCTs
Why are Mercedes and many of its rivals ditching the dual-clutch gearbox?
As of late, Mercedes started ditching the DCT in favor of more traditional torque converter automatics and multi-clutch gearboxes. The reason being is that a DCT gearbox is fairly complex, and as such, a DCT gearbox has many components that might break as time goes on.
The DCT is especially being ditched in the AMG performance department. The reasoning behind this is simple. A DCT gearbox is not able to withstand large amounts of torque, and a DCT gearbox is inherently clunkier at slower city speeds.
Moreover, the industry has moved towards more advanced Multi-Clutch Transmissions that combine the benefits of a traditional torque converter and a double-clutch gearbox.
What are the benefits of a manual gearbox compared to a double-clutch gearbox?
In this day and age, finding a manual car is not as easy as it once was because many cars do not offer a manual variant anymore. The advantages of a modern-day automatic, double and multi-clutch transmission are plenty, but a manual still offers something an automatic never will.
And that’s driver involvement. While this advantage is only appreciated by drivers who prefer a decent driving experience over a technologically robotized automobile of these days. Manual cars offer more control, less weight and an all-around less complex structure, all of which are fairly appreciated in the sports car segment.
Are there any Mercedes manual cars nowadays, and does the Mercedes competition still offer manuals?
Mercedes officially ditched the manual transmission in the US in 2011. But a few years ago, Mercedes also stopped offering a manual transmission entirely.
However, Audi and BMW still offer a manual transmission in many models. Most of the largest automobiles, such as the A8, the 7-series or any of the largest SUVs, don’t offer a manual version anymore. Cars such as the A3 or the 1 series still do though.
The popularity of a manual gearbox is fairly obvious in the sports car segment, as BMW just released the new M3 and M4, and they are both expected to offer a manual gearbox. Porsche also still sells many manual 911s, some of which are the most valuable 911 models you can get, like the 911R for example.