What is DSG (direct shift gearbox)?

  • How does DSG work?
  • Do I need a direct shift gearbox?
  • Parkers explains the tech

DSG is a form of automatic gearbox developed by the Volkswagen group, so you’ll see it offered across the VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda ranges.

It uses two clutches to change gears extremely quickly, making for imperceptible cog-swaps. The system is often accompanied by steering wheel paddles to change ratio manually.

How does a DSG transmission work?

The system uses two clutches to move up and down through the gears. As one clutch has the current gear engaged, the second clutch prepares the next gear for selection, significantly reducing shift times. 

The driver can override the automatic selection of gears using the gearlever or paddles located behind the steering wheel, if they’re fitted.

Do I need it?

If you’ve got your heart set on an automatic gearbox, the DSG unit is one of the better versions available. Bear in mind though that, like all automatic gearboxes, repairs can be very expensive if the transmission goes wrong.

Found on

Available on almost all Volkswagen Group vehicles including the Audi A1, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Polo.

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions