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DCT vs CVT: Which gearbox is better?

Team AckoFeb 27, 2024

Choosing the right gearbox for your car is an important decision that significantly affects your driving experience. You have two popular options: Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Both transmissions have their unique advantages and disadvantages. However, when it comes to which gearbox is better, the answer is complex. In this article, we shall take an in-depth look at the differences between the DCT and CVT gearboxes, examining their features, benefits and drawbacks.




What is a DCT gearbox? 

A dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is an advanced automated mechanical transmission that uses two separate clutches for odd and even gears stacked inside one housing. This gearbox essentially combines the efficiency and control of a manual gearbox with the convenience of an automatic transmission.

How it works:

One clutch manages the odd number gears while the other handles the even gears. By pre-selecting the next likely gear while one clutch is engaged, lightning-fast shifts occur within milliseconds by swapping transmission between the two gears with no torque interruption. Both clutches have their own input shaft from the engine flywheel.

What is a CVT gearbox? 

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a type of automatic gearbox that matches engine rotation speed smoothly to wheel speed requirements without fixed gear ratios. It uses a segmented steel belt or chain running between two variably sized pulleys for gear ratio variance rather than meshed gear sets. One pulley is attached to the engine input, while the other is linked to a gear train leading to the eventual drive wheels.

How it works:

By altering the effective diameters of the input and output pulleys infinitely, seamless acceleration is achieved across the rpm range without harsh gear shifts. The input pulley radius decreases as the engine revs rise while simultaneously, the output pulley diameter increases proportionally. This keeps the belt tension constant regardless of speed adjustments.

DCT vs CVT: Comparison 

When it comes to CVT vs DCT gearbox, there are several factors to consider, including performance, fuel economy, cost, maintenance and durability. Here is the comparison of DCT and CVT based on different factors. 

DCT vs CVT: Performance 

Here is the performance comparison between DCT and CVT gearboxes.




Gearshift time

Lightning fast

Seamless driving experience

Type of vehicles

High-performance and sports cars

Mainstream vehicles

  • DCT transmissions are preferred for their faster, sharper gear changes, lending better acceleration and responsiveness suited to high-performance vehicles.

  • The ultra-short gear change intervals of a DCT allow for staying in the engine's optimal power range.

  • CVT gearboxes provide a smooth but more gradual buildup of speed, lacking the urgent downshifts of DCTs required for quick overtaking or hills.

  • DCTs prove significantly faster on track scenarios while also being more fun to drive aggressively, thanks to their rapid-fire dual clutch gear changes.

DCT vs CVT: Efficiency 

Here is the efficiency comparison for transmissions.





Slightly lower mileage

Higher fuel efficiency


Highly responsive

Slightly sluggish

  • Well-programmed CVTs offer better fuel efficiency in urban stop-go traffic, optimising engine rpm for the speed required. 

  • DCTs fall short of CVT fuel economy in congested cities but match or exceed them on highways via tall gearing. 

  • CVTs have an edge with lower drivetrain friction losses, given fewer components to spin the wheels. 

  • DCTs compensate through ultra-smooth no-lift shifts and keeping engine rpm in peak efficiency band via close gear ratios. 

DCT vs CVT: Cost 

Regarding the cost comparison of DCT and CVT, DCT can be expensive to manufacture and maintain. In contrast, the CVT gearbox is less expensive. However, the price of CVT can differ between the make and model of the vehicle. 

  • Complex dual clutch packs, controls and extra components escalate DCT manufacturing pricing.

  • Mass market CVT adoptions in subcompact segments make them significantly cheaper to build, benefitting from scale.

  • Replacement costs of a damaged CVT belt or variator pulleys are lower than dual-clutch repairs.

  • High-performance sports models may charge a premium for the DCT option, counting its superiority despite higher build costs.

DCT vs CVT: Maintenance 

DCT and CVT require regular maintenance and can be prone to wear and tear. That said, the Dual Clutch Transmission gearbox is complex and requires specialised care, while the Continously Variable Transmission gearbox can be less durable than other types of car gearboxes. 

  • CVT steel belts and variator pulleys require periodic oil changes and inspections after 20-40k kilometres

  • Dual clutch facings in DCT boxes are consumable items needing replacement around 100k miles

  • Labour charges tend to be higher for DCT repair jobs compared to CVT gearbox maintenance or belt replacements

  • Hard-driven DCT cars will require clutch pack servicing earlier compared to placid highway CVT usage

CVT vs DCT: Advantages and disadvantages 

Here are the primary benefits and drawbacks of DCT and CVT gearboxes. 

Advantages of the DCT gearbox

  • Lightning quick gear changes under 100 milliseconds via pre-selected gears

  • Maximizes engine operating range, improving power delivery and fuel efficiency

  • Sports car-like responsiveness and control from ultra-short gear ratios

  • Eliminates shift shock by keeping the driveline engaged via dual clutches

  • Enhanced throttle response and acceleration performance from two input shafts

Disadvantages of the DCT gearbox

  • Higher complexity adds weight and pricing significantly over basic automatics

  • Concentrated heat buildup on dual clutch facings limits torque handling ability

  • Repair and rebuild costs are often considerably expensive

  • May suffer premature wear of friction facings with predominantly city usage

Advantages of the CVT gearbox

  • Stepless gear changing enables smooth driving without sudden RPM changes

  • Exceptionally fast ratio changes to optimize engine speed and save fuel

  • Simpler mechanics with fewer friction components improves reliability

  • Compact, lightweight construction allows packaging advantages

  • Lower manufacturing costs than conventional automatics benefit economy cars

Disadvantages of the CVT gearbox

  • Rubberband feel lacks driver engagement for spirited performance

  • Lower torque threshold restricts usage in high-power vehicles

  • Steel belt and pulley repairs are needed at fairly routine intervals

  • Limited control compared to DCT when sudden kick down shifts are required

  • Perceived cheap or unpleasant driving dynamics by pro drivers

DCT vs CVT: Which is better? 

Both Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearboxes are unique and cater to different needs. CVT can be better if you want a smooth and efficient driving experience. However, if you are looking for lightning-fast gear shifts and better acceleration, DCT can be a better choice when considering the CVT vs DCT debate. Here’s a more detailed explanation: 

For Performance Driving:

Dual-clutch transmissions are the decisively superior choice for driving enjoyment and racing purposes. Their incredibly quick shift times while remaining in the power band create sports car-like acceleration where lag is unacceptable. DCTs also allow banging downshifts for aggressive deceleration - an engaging experience.

For Daily Commuting:

The optimal gear ratios suiting any speed that CVTs provide make them ideal for stop-start city runs. Their smooth progression favours comfort while retaining engine efficiency. Traffic predictability doesn't warrant complex DCTs needing constant gear analysis.

For Highway Cruising:

Lengthy drives achieve peak drivetrain efficiency and lowered NVH levels in a DCT via customized gear set selection for intended speeds. Adaptive cruise features also complement DCTs' seamless auto shifts between gradients. CVT characteristics are less suited to highway use.

For Off-Roading:

A crawler or low-range gear mode optimizes DCTs for the technical requirements like torque modulation expected in treacherous off-road conditions. CVTs lack the control needed in slippery traction-challenged scenarios.

For Towing Heavy Loads:

Sturdy DCT gearboxes can reliably handle higher torque inputs from lugging campers or trailers without hesitation, avoiding CVTs' risk of belt/pulley slippage when engine power is suddenly needed.

In conclusion, DCT technology provides driving enthusiasts with superior experience and flexibility to handle varied use case priorities. For those focused purely on transportation, CVT's simplicity and economy carry mass appeal.

Best DCT cars in India 2024 

Here are some top DCT cars in India.



Fuel Efficiency

Ex-showroom Price

Honda Amaze

1.2-litre petrol

18.60 kmpl

Rs. 8.50 lakh onwards

Honda City

1.5-litre petrol

18.40 kmpl

Rs. 13.62 lakh onwards

Nissan Magnite

1.0-litre turbo petrol

19 kmpl

Rs. 9.93 lakh onwards

Honda Jazz

1.2-litre petrol

17.10 kmpl

Rs. 9.18 lakh onwards

Renault Kiger

1.0-litre turbo petrol

19 kmpl

Rs. 10.45 lakh onwards

Hyundai Verna

1.5-litre turbo petrol

16.50 kmpl

Rs. 13.50 lakh onwards

Hyundai Creta

1.5-litre petrol

16.50 kmpl

Rs. 16.26 lakh onwards

Kia Seltos

1.5-litre petrol

16.50 kmpl

Rs. 14.65 lakh onwards

MG Astor

1.5-litre petrol


Rs. 13.50 lakh onwards

Toyota Hyryder

1.5-litre petrol hybrid

28 kmpl

Rs. 15.61 lakh onwards

MG Hector

1.5-litre turbo petrol

14 kmpl

Rs. 15 lakh onwards

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara

1.5-litre turbo petrol

28 kmpl

Rs. 18 lakh onwards

Frequently Asked Questions on DCT vs CVT



What is the difference between DCT and a conventional automatic gearbox?

Conventional automatic gearbox uses a torque converter to transfer power between the engine and the wheels. In contrast, the DCT gearbox uses two clutches to send power to wheels to achieve quicker gear shifts.

Can you shift gears manually with a DCT or a CVT gearbox?

Yes, some Dual Clutch Transmission and Continuously Variable Transmission gearboxes come with a manual mode, allowing the driver to shift gears manually using paddle shifters or buttons on the steering wheel.

DCT vs CVT, which is better for driving in traffic?

The CVT gearbox offers a smooth and seamless driving experience, resulting in better driving dynamics in heavy traffic conditions.

Which are the most affordable CVT cars in India?

Honda Amaze, Renault Kiger, Nissan Magnite and Honda Jazz are some of the most affordable CVT cars in India.

Which are the most affordable DCT cars in India?

Tata Altroz, Hyundai Venue, Hyundai i20 and Kia Sonet are some of the most affordable DCT cars in India.

Which is the best car insurance policy in India?

A Comprehensive Car Insurance Policy offers wide-ranging benefits, including coverage for third-party liabilities and damage to the insured car. It also covers theft.

Manual vs Automatic vs CVT gearbox, which is better?

While automatic gearboxes, and traditional torque converters, are suitable, they are outdated and not highly efficient. When you compare manual gearboxes to other automatic gearboxes, the manual gearbox is easier to maintain and costs less.

How frequently does maintenance need to be performed on CVT and DCT gearboxes?

CVTs require inspection of steel belts; oil changes approximately every 60k miles. DCT clutch packs may need replacement around 100k miles.

Which type of gearbox allows the use of manual mode - CVT or DCT?

Both transmission types offer a manual shift option via steering-mounted paddles or stick shifters in sport trims.

Do CVT gearboxes have gear ratio steps like DCT?

No, CVT uses variable pulley diameters for seamless acceleration through gear ratios rather than fixed gears.

Which is better for modifying or tuning cars between DCT and CVT gearboxes?

DCTs with tightly spaced gear ratios allow staying in optimal torque band when tuning for higher performance.

How many separate clutches does a DCT gearbox use?

Dual-clutch transmissions use two clutches, with one clutch handling odd gear sets while the other controls the even gears.

Which type of gearbox has a higher manufacturing cost?

The complex components and controls needed for DCT gearboxes increase their build costs over regular automatics and CVT gearboxes.

Are CVT gearboxes used only in hybrid or electric cars nowadays?

While popular in hybrids thanks to electric torque fill, CVTs also suit regular gasoline-only powered economy segment cars.

How does a DCT gearbox improve fuel efficiency?

DCTs save fuel via swift no-lift shifts, tall cruising gears and operating engines mostly in their high-efficiency range.

Which gearbox type has lesser inertia losses?

Lower rotating mass pulleys inside CVT gearboxes have reduced inertia drag, helping marginal fuel savings.

Do DCT-equipped cars roll back on hills during launch?

No - DCT controllers proactively use clutch and brake interventions when setting off on gradients.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet, and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content, and before making any insurance-related decisions.


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