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What is S Tronic? Guide to Audi’s gearbox

The S Tronic gearbox is a staple feature of the Audi brand – but what is it and how does it work?

A close up shot of an Audi steering wheel

When it comes to Audi cars, they have their own league of technology that brand loyalists can’t get enough of.

The S Tronic gearbox is a perfect example of this, as it’s a setup that combines the positives of both automatic and manual transmissions.

What is the S Tronic direct-shift gearbox?

S Tronic is a double-clutch automatic gearbox that mixes features from auto and manual transmissions.

It first launched on Audi models in 2008, but previously was installed under the name ‘DSG’ on Volkswagen Group cars.

With the S Tronic setup, you can sit back and enjoy an automatic transmission while still having the option to switch gears like a manual.

You can get the S Tronic transmission on used Audi models like the Audi A3 and S3, Q5 SUV, and TT.

What can S Tronic do?

S Tronic is ideal if you can’t decide between the drive comfort of a slick automatic transmission or the sporty and more economical manual option.

Audi has also ensured that the S Tronic tech is prioritising fuel efficiency while still offering a smooth and responsive drive.

Thanks to its two clutches and lack of clutch pedal, S Tronic is known as a ‘DCT’ or dual-clutch transmission gearbox.

Audi Tiptronic

If you prefer a single-clutch automatic gearbox, Audi Tiptronic might be more up your street.

This is a more standard automatic gearbox where all gears are controlled through the same clutch, so it’s easier to feel the gear changes when compared to the S Tronic.

With Tiptronic, you can still choose to manually shift gears if you want to.

What does S Tronic add to my car?

If you choose an Audi with S Tronic transmission, you’ll get to enjoy slick, dual-clutch tech that offers the best of both worlds.

You’ll be able to engage with your car through the manual gearbox, but can relax on long drives and enjoy the automatic tech.

S Tronic also boosts your car’s performance, with the capability to handle engine speeds up to 9,000rpm.

It’s a light bit of equipment that will keep your Audi pacey and efficient.

It’s worth it if you want to gain improved performance and reduced fuel consumption from a reliable and high-quality bit of tech.

In fact, Audi claims that S Tronic allows gear changes in as little as 0.2 seconds or less.

How does S Tronic work, and how is it different from other offerings?

The Audi S Tronic setup is made up of two clutches paired with two main shafts.

One shaft engages even-numbered gears, while the other engages odd numbers and reverse.

While the gearbox is operating, one gear is engaged, and another is pre-selected and ready to engage when the power is shifted.

This is what allows for the speedy gear changes with no interruption to the flow of power.

The electric transmission control unit is always taking signals from the car’s different sensors so it can be prepared for the next gear change.

If you want to move into manual mode, you’ll need to select ‘manual’ using the gear shifter or the paddle shifters on your steering wheel.

On used BMW models, you’ll find similar technology with its Steptronic gearbox. It works similarly to the Audi S Tronic, with dual clutches that engage either the odd or even gears, plus the option for automatic.

Steptronic and S Tronic are very similar, but the BMW offering is eight-speed compared to the seven-speed S Tronic.

Some reviews also claim that you can feel the power loss between gear changes from the Steptronic, while it can’t be felt from the S Tronic.

What are the costs of Audi’s S Tronic?

Surprisingly, S Tronic is only slightly more expensive than the other standard manual and automatic gearboxes that Audi offers.

The exact price will depend on the model you choose and whether you’re buying a used Audi or a brand-new model.

On the used market, the cost of a manual Audi model can be around the same price as the S Tronic, with some predicting manuals will become the more expensive choice.

This is because automatic models are more common and sought-after, with manual Audis being harder to come by over time due to supply and demand.

Right now, there’s an ample supply of both manual, S Tronic, and Tiptronic Audi models on the market – all at reasonable price points for the quality on offer.

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