Manual Downshifting when driving hard - Alfa Romeo 4C Forums
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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Manual Downshifting when driving hard

We all like downshifting gears when we need to slow down for a curve because the car benefits with increased engine braking, the suspension sets itself for the corner and it sounds so good. The problem is i know this to be the worse thing for our cars. When i took a Maserati drivers course a few years back the instructor keep saying always do your braking while in the higher gear and down shift to the correct gear only once your braking is done and you are ready to accelerate again. i know the old saying, brakes are cheaper to replace than clutches but the instructor also said you will be much faster too. Does anyone follow this technique and if so, is it really faster?

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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 11:08 AM
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Yes, of course. I treat it exactly as I would a manual transmission car. I paddle downshift in exactly the same place I would do a heel-toe blip downshift. Maximize smoothness.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 11:41 AM
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Yep - that old saying that "brakes are cheaper to replace than a transmission" is so true, and this also leads to much smoother driving. Brake as needed while you are still going straight, downshift when you are at your cornering speed, and point it at the apex, accelerate 2/3"s of the way out of the corner.
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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 11:48 AM
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Yes that is still true.
But our car is so computerized I'm not sure you could even manually downshift at the wrong time.

And more and more I'm finding myself going through curves at a higher gear as it is faster due to our cars lack of a high rpm power band. At least for now..... camshafts are a coming.


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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 12:25 PM
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You don't downshift for engine braking.

You downshift so that you are in the right gear you need to be in to give you the revs that you need to pull/accelerate. Depending on where you're driving (road, track) and what your engine's power curve is, it's dynamic car to car.

Brake then fire off downshifts til you are in the gear to navigate the turn, curve, etc, so that no shifts are required mid-corner / mid-turn, and so that no shifts were so early that engine braking had a chance to make the car unstable. Brakes are something that can be modulated, so don't unsettle a car so much or risk unsettling is as engine braking would.

brake brake brake brake setting up.... fire off downshift(s).... navigate turn/corner... accelerate from corner in the proper gear you selected before you apexed.

Notes: You are afforded some leeway with dual-clutch automated manuals, in that you could probably fire off a downshift mid-corner, something that was just not wise in a true manual.

Nonetheless, it's not about engine braking. We're not big rigs going down steep grades and don't need to prevent brake failure by supplementing the brakes with engine braking ( and/or 'jake brakes'!).

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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Philster View Post
You don't downshift for engine braking.

You downshift so that you are in the right gear you need to be in to give you the revs that you need to pull/accelerate. Depending on where you're driving (road, track) and what your engine's power curve is, it's dynamic car to car.

Brake then fire off downshifts til you are in the gear to navigate the turn, curve, etc, so that no shifts are required mid-corner / mid-turn, and so that no shifts were so early that engine braking had a chance to make the car unstable. Brakes are something that can be modulated, so don't unsettle a car so much or risk unsettling is as engine braking would.

brake brake brake brake setting up.... fire off downshift(s).... navigate turn/corner... accelerate from corner in the proper gear you selected before you apexed.

Notes: You are afforded some leeway with dual-clutch automated manuals, in that you could probably fire off a downshift mid-corner, something that was just not wise in a true manual.

Nonetheless, it's not about engine braking. We're not big rigs going down steep grades and don't need to prevent brake failure by supplementing the brakes with engine braking ( and/or 'jake brakes'!).

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Perfect explanation.
Especially about the modulation / upset risk. I'm speaking as someone who has accidentally hit the downshift paddle once on high-speed turn-in.
Definite pucker moment, but the car is, as you say, pretty forgiving. Even for an idiot like me who then instinctively shifted back up again right away (don't try that at home folks - idiot driver, closed course). That was TWO lessons learned in one corner!
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 01:32 PM
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Manual Downshifting when driving hard

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Perfect explanation.

Especially about the modulation / upset risk. I'm speaking as someone who has accidentally hit the downshift paddle once on high-speed turn-in.

Definite pucker moment, but the car is, as you say, pretty forgiving. Even for an idiot like me who then instinctively shifted back up again right away (don't try that at home folks - idiot driver, closed course). That was TWO lessons learned in one corner!

I've probably done that too many times to count! My eyes are not good enough to see the RPMs and it wasn't loud enough for me to hear the correct downshift points.
But since I did my downpipe and my exhaust mod car is louder and it's quite a bit easier to downshift by ear. Upshifting always seems to be a lot easier.

Can you imagine manually sport tracking some of these new sportscars with 8 gears! And the new Lexus LC 500 has 10 gears!
CVT here we come!

And I just got through driving a 1968 Lola race car with just 4 gears. That was a no-brainer!!
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 01:33 PM
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Manual Downshifting when driving hard

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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 01:35 PM
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In Dynamic-Auto mode the car will downshift during hard braking (giving you some mild engine braking) in a way very similar to what everyone above recommends. PDK Porsches and ZF-Auto Alfa Giulias and Jaguars do the same thing.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 01:59 PM
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Yes, take some instruction from dynamic-auto. Where it shifts under aggressive braking is very prudent practise.

Lots of good comments and advice to heed here. Downshifting is the last thing to do in your braking zone just prior to getting off the brakes, not the first thing. This past weekend I had a student who was killing his car by heel-toe'ing at the beginning of his braking zone. Generally if you're driving with abandon your revs are going to be up there in the gear you're currently in. If you downshift at that point you're asking for a huge load on an already screaming engine. Not a pretty picture, and as pointed out here also a huge torque at the driven wheels, which could be very upsetting.
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