I recently had the chance to drive the Audi A3 S line quattro, which brings together two technologies we've reported on at Automotive DesignLinethe Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission and adaptive headlights.
The 6-speed electro-hydraulic control DSG has internal clutches for quick shifting but can be controlled in an automatic as well as manual modes. Do nothing, and it functions as a crisp automatic transmission. Using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel overrides the automatic function for up or down shifting, with the transmission reverting to automatic mode after about 30 seconds or if you accelerate or decelerate quickly. Pushing the console selector to the right produces a full manual operation, requiring all shifting via the paddles (right paddle for upshifting, left for down). The DSG can be fun to drive, but requires attention to what gear you are in, unless you keep looking at the dash indicator. With a conventional shift lever, you at least get a tactile indication from its position as to what gear is selected, so there is no need for an indicator on the panel.
As for the adaptive headlights, these pivot about 15 degrees left and right, depending on steering angle and speed. I was skeptical about themuntil driving some twisty lanes in some of Boston's more toni suburbs, with high shrubs fairly close along the road. The visibility improvement is especially noticeable in right turns, whereas left turns have a more inherently clear view and illumination that come from driving on the right side of the road. If a light-driving motor were to fail, the Audi light gearing is such that the beam stays dead ahead, because motors have to work against restoring, centering forces to drive the beam from dead center.