Agreed, the "learning algorithm" or whatever they programmed into this thing to try to "learn" the driver's style and preferred shift points is a total detriment to anyone except the most consistent of drivers in the most consistent of climates. It does not do well with how a person's driving may change from day to day, week to week, season to season, different weather conditions, etc. If I am by myself late for work I like to pretend to be a nascar driver, the next day if I am giving grandma a ride I will be driving much differently. When the weather is good I go faster, when its bad I slow down. The computer does not keep up with these changes for me, its always a day behind in how I want to drive and it drives me nuts. I wish I could just have every point "fixed" and have it be consistent. This programming seems to affect the throttle response as well as the shift points. It makes sense that turning off ESC would bypass a table of dynamic learned values or something similar, but I still don't like the idea of doing that on the road.
This 4 cylinder actually makes terrific power, for what it is, but the computer(s) make terrible use of it. In normal use there seems to be just gobs of software dampening on throttle response, shift points and shift speeds, etc. Playing around with autostick/esc off, mud mode, and sometimes by luck of the draw driving normally, it will really surprise you how much gumption it can have. Then the computer goes and reigns it in.
Like was said above the feeling of gutlessness on the highway is the worst, because of the umpteen overdrives. Most of us are used to a 4 speed automatic car downshifting and getting much more leverage to "go", but downshifting in this heavy car from overdrive-number-three (or four) to overdrive-number-two, or even to overdrive-number-1, it has downshifted maybe several times but you are still trying to accelerate in a ratio greater than 1:1, which doesn't work great. Highway cruising tends to be in 8th gear, you gotta drop all the way to 4th before you are under the 1:1 ratio (5th), which is obviously pretty dramatic and not very smooth as we have all experienced. Add to that, if anyone watched the videos on this transmission there are technical reasons that crossing from 4th to 5th or vise-versa takes much longer than most of the other shifts which are noticeable microseconds added to our frustration...
Indeed, rowing your own gears in autostick and staying under 5th gear until you are actually ready to cruise at a steady speed for a while (done merging and all that) will bring back your belief in the motor's vigor. The poor engine gets a bad rap but its not really to blame.
When traffic suddenly flares up and causes me to switch from cruising-attitude to nascar-attitude, I'll stop the gas to get the computer to drop 4 gears and then once it completes that I will slap the auto-stick over to manual mode so it will hold that gear until I am done negotiating the traffic.
Similarly on a windy day (or hilly terrain) when I am against the wind and it keeps dropping a gear and going back and forth, about the third time it downshifts I'll slap the autostick so it can quit the whole shifting too-and-fro business. The manual actually says something to the effect that this is recommended when the conditions are causing frequent shifts.
I often wonder if those transmission and pedal devices they sell would help alleviate any of this. Might mask some of it but it is what it is I think, for the most part.