The allure of the dual-clutch transmission has pretty much dulled, a far cry from when it first arrived on the scene, when it was lauded as the path ahead and a replacement for the ubiquitous torque converter automatic. Issues that have abounded, primarily with dry dual-clutch units, have given the ‘box a bad rep, and quite a number of automakers have gone back to conventional automatics with their latest offerings.

Is that trend signalling the eventual demise of the transmission? Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer seems to think so. In an interview with Car and Driver, Palmer stated that the dual-clutch is set to lose ground progressively to the torque converter auto and may be living on borrowed time, no matter the configuration, wet or dry.

“It’s an imperfect beast, and somehow or other we’ve managed to surround it with this idea that it’s super quick and that shift shock is good, and it’s mythical,” he told the publication.

The former Nissan chief planning officer hasn’t been a great fan, saying that the transmission has essentially been a compromise, one that is being surpassed by the very thing it set out to replace. “Ten years ago, it still looked like the transmission of the future. Now it is starting to look like the transmission of the past.” he said.

“A good conventional automatic gearbox like the ZF is cheaper, which is absurd when you think that the manual gearbox has survived because it is meant to be the less expensive option, but there’s so much technology loaded onto a (DCT) to make it work,” Palmer stated.

“It’s heavier as well, which is another disadvantage, but the real issue is the gearchange itself. It’s actually now faster in a (planetary) automatic, because you can control the torque. That means ultimately your 0-100 km/h times are quicker with an auto, which takes away all of the marketing puff for the dual-clutch,” he added.

The game isn’t quite up yet, of course. High-end automakers like Ferrari and McLaren are utilising DCTs exclusively, and Volkswagen continues to offer the transmission on a large scale in its offerings, but the tide may be slowly turning.

Others look to be moving away from it. Ford, which pushed PowerShift on its previous-gen Focus Mk3 and last-gen Fiesta, shifted to a six-speed torque converter unit which it co-developed with GM (the 6F35) on the Focus Mk3 facelift for the ASEAN region, and the recently introduced Focus Mk 4 now utilises an eight-speed automatic (in two torque-rated variations, the 8F24 and 8F35). It does continue to offer Getrag-based DCTs in its model line-up, but these are primarily wet clutch units.