Optimal Aston? - Aston Martin DBS Touchtronic

  • Aston Martin DBS Touchtronic - 0
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The DBS gets a paddle shift - and it's rather good

If you're not one who goes to sleep thinking about gearbox internals, you could be forgiven for being confused about what's what. The new big thing is the double-clutch (DSG, PDK, etc). The purist system, because it's closest to that of an F1 car, is the robotised manual (F1-shift, Cambiocorsa, Selespeed, E-gear etc). And then there's the good old torque-converter auto with its epicyclic gear train, nowadays honed to ,change gears with the alacrity and precision of the first two when in manual mode just as those first two try to ape the last one's smoothness in automatic mode.So what's this one here? It's an Aston Martin with paddleshifts. But it's not a Sportshift (robotised manual, used in the V8 Vantage). Aston hasn't discovered double-clutches yet. So it's a torque-converter auto, named Touchtronic by Aston Martin and used in the DB9. This car, though, is a DBS, a car somewhere between a DB9 and a DBR9 racer in pace and personality. A DBS normally has a six-speed manual gearbox. But now, for an extra £3000, you can dispense with the clutch pedal.The DB9's Touchtronic gearbox, made by ZF, was the first auto to give a proper throttle-blip on a manual downshift. It does this in the DBS to rather greater sound effect, especially in Sport mode (quicker shifts, sharper throttle) in which gearshifts feel as quick as a Sport-moded robotised manual's and rather smoother. It's almost like a double-clutcher, actually, and such is the zeal with which the torque converter locks up that you're aware of no slushy slippage at all once you've moved off.Or scorched off, more like. Shorter gearing than a DB9's, plus the shift speed, means the 0-62mph time is the same as a manual DBS's at 4.3 seconds. The transmission's internals are barely relevant here; it's simply an excellent sequential system with an equally good auto mode. And because you're less likely to stall than in a manual DBS with its tetchy throttle and fuzzy clutch, you're freed from grappling with that Emotion Control Unit nonsense (it's just a key, really) which won't let you restart until a complete systems check has taken place.As for the rest of the DBS, it still looks wicked, howls to the heavens and brings on powerful possessive urges because it's such a beautifully-wrought object. But a drive over any imperfect road surface soon cools the ardour. The adaptive dampers' normal mode is very firm but still allows some pitching at the tail. The Sport mode is now unusable away from a racetrack.Time to recalibrate those dampers, chaps. Again.


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