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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1
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DCT - slush or push?

I'm off to visit the Lakes in a couple of weeks, with the Younger Mrs S. and the "Queen of the Sith" , aka Baby S.

Gerrard (my dependable old Stilo) has a moody clutch flywheel at the moment, which has either gotten worse during the lack of use during lockdown... or while it's been parked up and I've been using the missus' 500 for everything, I just forgot how bad it was.

Whatever .. I've decided it's too risky for a 1000+ mile trip away from the toolbox, so I'm renting a car.. a decision made much easier by the local firm taking on a couple of 500x Sport in the 1.3 DCT flavor.

The beast will be the auto-box'd DCT doodah which I've never used before but it'll be different so I'm open-minded about it, especially since there's no manual option (unless a Skoda BigFoot or something appeals).

I presumes the DCT needs a foot on the brake pedal to start it .. and the electronic handbrake is just a case of pressing/pulling the button next to the gear-stick.. but is the DCT a CVT, or a pukka auto-box... and what's the best way to drive it?

In (usually hired) bi-pedal cars, I tend to let the gearbox do the gearboxing.. since it's strange for me to change gear without pressing in a clutch... but if the DCT works better as a sequential shifter, then I'll try to get into the groove and change gears manually.

What's the opinion?



Ralf S.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #2
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

Quote Originally Posted by Ralf S. View Post
I'm off to visit the Lakes in a couple of weeks, with the Younger Mrs S. and the "Queen of the Sith" , aka Baby S.

Gerrard (my dependable old Stilo) has a moody clutch flywheel at the moment, which has either gotten worse during the lack of use during lockdown... or while it's been parked up and I've been using the missus' 500 for everything, I just forgot how bad it was.

Whatever .. I've decided it's too risky for a 1000+ mile trip away from the toolbox, so I'm renting a car.. a decision made much easier by the local firm taking on a couple of 500x Sport in the 1.3 DCT flavor.

The beast will be the auto-box'd DCT doodah which I've never used before but it'll be different so I'm open-minded about it, especially since there's no manual option (unless a Skoda BigFoot or something appeals).

I presumes the DCT needs a foot on the brake pedal to start it .. and the electronic handbrake is just a case of pressing/pulling the button next to the gear-stick.. but is the DCT a CVT, or a pukka auto-box... and what's the best way to drive it?

In (usually hired) bi-pedal cars, I tend to let the gearbox do the gearboxing.. since it's strange for me to change gear without pressing in a clutch... but if the DCT works better as a sequential shifter, then I'll try to get into the groove and change gears manually.

What's the opinion?



Ralf S.


I have the 9 speed Auto which is most certainly not a CVT box. I don't know much but I do know that. Neither do I know if that's the same box as on the Sport, but I don't think Fiat use any CVT boxes.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

The 9 speed is a true auto box which creeps when you have your foot off the pedal, my 2016 4x4 500x has one with the 1.4 170hp engine. It's good to drive and pretty responsive but only gives 33-36 mpg even on longer runs.


I believe the 6 speed is a computer controlled manual box which can be driven in automatic mode. If you like technical things and want a read of the differences:
- 6 speed Link
- 9 speed Link

I haven't been able to find any decent reviews of the driving experience of the 1.3 Sport, your thoughts when you've done your trip would be good
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

According to this data, it's a DCT. Certainly not an automated manual like the Duologic in the little 500.

https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/fiat/500x-2015/
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

Aye..! I'm hoping they do give me the 500X and not a "similar alternative" (as usually happens when you want a particular car.... )

It'll be good to have a very extended test drive; I've been long curious about the X although the bigger engine (which is the one I would buy) only comes with this DCT box (which is the one I would not buy) .. so it'll be interesting to see how the 'box actually works, rather than how it works in my prejudices.


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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #6
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

The DCT is a clever box of tricks. Effectively two manual transmissions in one casing, and a clutch that swaps between them. One box does the odd numbers, the other the evens. The clutch can be dry, or wet. The wet one being immersed in oil and will tolerate creeping and manoeuvring better. No idea what the Fiat has.

When you select D, it engages both 1st and 2nd gear, and when you release the brake, the clutch gets to the bite point to engage the odd gearbox, so 1st. Pressure on the accelerator engages the clutch further and away you go. At the determined speed/load it changes very smoothly to the even box, giving you 2nd. Then the odd box selects 3rd, ready for the next change. All significantly faster than I can type this. Accelerating, the other box is ready with the next higher gear, decelerating it is ready with the next lower. Occasionally, brake hard, then accelerate hard can catch it out, but they are getting better at that. Normal driving will be smooth and faultless. Leave it in D, let it do its stuff.

One downside, they don't like lots of manoeuvring or stop/start queues. The hills around the Lakes might be a problem if you insist on keep stopping. Move away positively, it'll be fine. That does not mean fast, brisk, or abruptly, just move away. Try to avoid slow trickling with the clutch not fully engaged.

They don't like reversing trailers up slopes either, btu that won't be a problem will it?
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #7
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

The link above suggests itís a dry clutch.. but good tips Bill.

Iíll report how I get on with it. Iím pretty much dyed in the wool ďmanualĒ but Iíll give it a chance .. sometimes stuff is better than you think it will be.

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Re: DCT - slush or push?

Quote Originally Posted by Ralf S. View Post
Iím pretty much dyed in the wool ďmanualĒ but Iíll give it a chance .. sometimes stuff is better than you think it will be.



Ralf S.


I definitely like a manual, but the auto box with paddle shifters on the steering wheel gives me the best of both worlds IMHO.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

Back from my hoolidays… just a quick review for anyone interested in the 1.3X.

The Fiat UK website seems to have "lost" the Sport in 1.0 ltr flavour, in which case the 1.3 is the only Sport available;

The DCT is a selectable auto'.. It has a gearstick with the usual D-N-R-P options so you can use the gearbox as a regular auto'... and if you flick the gear lever to the left, it engages a semi-automatic" ("manual") mode, which lets you change the gears yourself, within limits. It also has gearchange paddles attached to the steering wheel (- on one side, + on the other).

I started out leaving the box in "auto". The car dives just like an auto, albeit without the "creep" feature, so in "D" it doesn't move until you give it a bit of gas. In this mode, you can select the next gear up or down using the paddles but the car doesn't let you change gear if it's not happy with the selection (speed too low or too high for the gear).

In this mode, the box is pretty impressive. It changes fairly seamlessly, has a good kick-down and it's difficult to tell what gear you're in, or when the car changes gear.

On some low speed inclines, the beast did occasionally kick down to second gear, usually at the same time that I was giving it a bit more throttle to keep the speed up and that could result in quite aggressive acceleration, which took a few times to get used to. Using less gas up the hills and letting the car choose the gear made things a bit less "exciting"..

I tried driving it manually (semi-auto) with the paddles. Again, the box is pretty perfect.. changes are quick and smooth. Slightly annoying, again, the car wouldn't let you choose the gear you wanted, if it was too high or too low for the speed. Usually I stick my car in a high gear to coast down hill but the car used the right gear for the speed and applied engine braking (as "textbook") but I found it a bit nannying that I couldn't roll along in 6th, say.

On the other hand, if you norks things up, or ignore the gearbox as the car slows down, the car changes gear to suit the speed. If you come to a halt in 4th say, the car will select 2nd and then 1st, even if you don't. Can't fault it on this one.

The paddles were a PITA a bit, since they are attached to the wheel. I'd have preferred them fixed to the column, so I could always find them... but as above, if you can't find the paddle, the car will change down for you... and I daresay many people will like the paddles on the wheel, so I might be in a minority.

In the end, I did most driving in "Auto" since there wasn't much wrong with how it worked. The shift from R to D on an incline, and vice-versa was well covered by the rear brakes hill control system, which was one less thing to worry about (no "creep" would otherwise make this a slight juggling act).

The electronic parking brake took me ages to get use to (down or up, up or down but it was fairly quick. The parking brake and the gearbox determined when the stop-start would work... I left it enabled (it can be turned off) and it worked perfectly.. although in "N" with the handbrake on, it didn't turn off the engine, as a "manual" S&S might.. you had to put your foot on the brake to activate the S&S. There is a by-pass.. something like holding the parking and footbrakes on till the S&S cuts in, then putting the car in "P" and then releasing the foot brake.. that didn't turn the engine on again... but to be fair, that's not a severe complaint.

Other aspects.. the engine is a beast. 150bhp and it felt like it. I don't think I exceeded 80mph but it was powerful enough for what I needed (average speed round the Lakes is something like 34mph). On the motorway, it's smooth and quick up to 80.

Worst feature was the cabin noise, which was not the engine but seemed to be tyre roar, reflected off the roof. If it was mine, I'd probably experiment with different tyres (these were Goodyear? Turanza or something) and possibly stuffing some sound deadening mat behind the wheel arch liners. The roar was only a motorway issue but I had to turn up the radio a few times, just to hear it.

The sat-nav was tricky to use, even though it was a Tom-Tom. I couldn't intuitively find a way to select just a town name, so I ended up looking up the destination on my Google Maps, finding a street and using that. Postcode worked in the end.. so it could be I just needed the user guide.

We managed 900 miles and 46mpg, which for a 150bhp is probably not bad, although my Stilo JTD has spoilt me (55mpg) so the 500X is "disappointing" even though it's probably fairly good.

I'd like to try the 1.0ltr triple with "just" 120bhp.. the 1.3 had plenty in hand and the box was actually very competent... but the paddles just don't satisfy in the same way as a stick does.. I think there's very little chance of me ever having an auto... but that's really no reflection on the 500X DCT. It's a competent and very well resolved gearbox, shackled to some safety and environmental kit.. some of which is not it's fault.. so I would have to say "Highly Recommended", just as a technical proposition.


Ralf S.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

I find I use the paddles on my 2.0 MJ quite often as in Auto the box is just a little slower to change down when going for an overtake than I would like. This criticism goes away completely in Sport mode when it tutns into a beast. Overall I find the 9 speed Auto to be a totally competent box but have never tried the DCT
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Old 6 Days Ago   #11
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

An interesting review, Ralf, as the automotive press reviews of the 1.3 4cyl FireFly with DCT box is luke-warm at best, in part due to the gearbox. Most say to go for the 1.0 3cyl FireFly instead, as it has a manual box. Strangely all the 1.0 versions have been lost from the 500x configurator, though I can't imagine that's a permanent change as it'd leave the 500x severely compromised with just one engine (the 1.6 e-Torq has recently gone too) and the Jeep Renegade that comes out of the same Italian factory is still available with the 1.0 engine, so fingers crossed the 1.0 will reappear very soon. Fiat's promotions still feature the 1.0, too.

As far as I knew the DCT box is basically Fiat's answer to the VW DSG, but more reliable. It's been used in Alfa Romeo's since the MiTo in 2010 (dubbed TCT) and has escaped the problematic reputation of the Dualogic/Sellespeed boxes that came before. That said I wouldn't want one either, but that's just because like you, I prefer a manual.

Interestingly the Parents have just swapped their 2017 Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T 115 for a 500x 1.0 FireFly 120 (Cross Plus) and having been regularly frustrated with the lack of performance from the Nissan 1.2 engine, they were slightly concerned that the 1.0 in the Fiat might've been more of the same. The very honest Salesman, positive magazine reviews and fond memories of their 2012 500 TwinAir helping to convince them to take the plunge. They're glad they did. Early days but it's easily more flexible and perky than the Nissan. Power arrives very early (peak power is around 1750rpm i believe) and aided by a taught-feeling gearbox, the 500x feels a lot lighter on its feet than the Nissan ever did. It feels very much like my Tipo 1.4 T-Jet 120 - you'd never know it was a smaller capacity unless you detect the fun-sounding 3 cylinder thrum, which Mum loves as it reminds her of the TwinAir, without being quite so 'angry wasp'. We've topped 40mpg on the computer so far - i've not done a manual calculation but historically our Italian cars have had pretty accurate MPG readouts. It's an engine that loves to rev though, so that could easily fall without restraint of the right foot!

We've not taken it on the motorway yet but so far the road noise hasn't seemed terrible. Not as quiet as the Qashqai but not many notches worse. It's also on Bridgestone Turanza's on 18" wheels like the Sport (though many Sports have optional 19"s fitted which won't help) - having had Turanza's on my Alfa Giulietta & then changed to Avon's, I feel that FCA could pick their tyre brands better for refinement.

I have the 7" UConnect Nav in my Tipo and the 500x and it will accept towns rather postcodes, but you do have to put a road name in too - I usually try the obvious Church Street, Main Road, High Street options before tutting, rolling my eyes, swearing and looking on Google!

Definitely try out a 1.0 3cyl FireFly though. I don't understand why there aren't more of these on the roads, but I've a feeling it's partly down to perception that it'll be underpowered, with the auto-only set-up of the 1.3 alienating more buyers, and Fiat not being very on-the-ball with incentives for existing 500 owners to trade-up. Either way, the deals on them are very competitive, especially pre-reg and ex-demo.
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Re: DCT - slush or push?

Ah.. "reviews"... Technically, the box seemed pretty faultless to me.

The main area where it lost a bit of composure was the kick-down from third to second, under load (e.g. up short but steep gradients). In a manual you would just give it a few seconds of a more throttle... but the DCT would spot the increasing load and be changing down while you're also giving it more gas for the higher gear, with the result that you're now on a large throttle opening, in second, with 150bhp.. It's quite a rush.. just a bit toooo exciting.

But this was me still driving it as I would a manual... so it's probably something that you would get used to an leave to the car to sort out, so it wouldn't be such a surprise.

As in my post above, the gearbox was pretty much faultless technically.. always finding the right gear at the right time, even though my bad ? habits in a manual would usually have me in a higher gear than the car was using. It used a lower gear, to engine brake for example, whereas I'd roll down the slope in a higher gear and just use more brakes at the bottom. My old driving instructor would say the car is doing it properly, not me.

The box's biggest failing is that it's so smooth that you don't have very much sensation of changing gear .. and if it's in Auto you end up always in the right gear with no idea of what gear that is... so there's a loss of some of driving involvement, which I missed.

The 1.0ltr could be the one to go for. I like the idea of a triple.. and 120bhp isn't too shabby. My Stilo has (or had) 115 and I rarely trouble all of them. If the torque is available down low, then for 99% of the time, it sounds like it'll be grunty enough.

The Younger Mrs S. liked it (big, comfy seats and no need to sit under the dashboard when the kiddie seat was in the back)… and the boot was bigger than legend would have it.. so the X is more of a contender for my next car than it was before.



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