IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT THE POLO GT TSI has been our favourite warm hatchback for a long time now. Earlier, it had a punchy 1.2-litre TSI engine and the sportiest of all automatic gearboxes — the acclaimed DSG. The new Polo GT TSI retains neither the engine nor the ’box, yet it still tops our list of enthusiast cars on a budget. Last month, we dug deep into the engineering behind the new 1.0 TSI EA211 engine, and now we’re focusing on the second bit of the drivetrain — the transmission. We’re talking about the six-speed torque converter from the Polo GT TSI that has replaced the DQ200 DSG unit, a transmission with a strong fan following in the outgoing GT TSI. This powertrain also resides under the hood of the new Vento, for enthusiasts looking for a bit more space.
Wait.. what is a torque converter?
Good question. I’m going to reuse the most widely used analogy to explain torque converters because, frankly, it’s a great analogy. Imagine two fans facing each other. When you switch on the first fan, the wind generated from it spins the second fan too. And if you hold the propellers of the second fan, it will stop turning despite the first one continuing to spin. The first fan in this analogy is the impeller, the second fan is the turbine, and the air is the liquid or transmission fluid. The impeller is connected to the engine, while the turbine is connected to the transmission. Accelerate and they move in harmony (thanks to the transmission fluid), but if you stop or select ‘P’ or ‘N’ on the gear selector, the turbine stops while the impeller continues (allowing the car to stop without stalling). Heard of something else doing a similar thing? Yes, a clutch. The ‘torque converter’ is actually a type of fluid coupling which replaces the clutch. This is of course a very simplistic explanation of how a torque converter works, in reality there are a hundred more parts and plenty of electronics but this is the basic principle.
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