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"we will continue [to offer a manual] even if only ten per cent of customers want it."

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Future BMWs won’t chase efficiency with nine or more gears, but will get three-cylinder power, according to tech chief
BMW is convinced its current transmission policy of eight-speed automatics, seven-speed dual-clutches and six-speed manuals is the perfect combination, according to its small and midsize cars boss, Klaus Frolich.
Speaking to Auto Express at the launch of the new X4 and 4 Series Gran Coupe – both of which offer an eight-speed ‘Sport Auto’ paddleshifter option – Frolich expressed scepticism at the gearbox policies of rivals Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes and Cadillac, all of whom are working on transmissions offering nine or more forward speeds.
“We ran some tests” explained Frolich. “The [efficiency] difference between an automatic with six speeds and eight speeds is seven or eight per cent, which is a good result. But the benefit for nine speeds [instead of eight] is almost zero per cent. Plus, it adds weight, complexity and cost, and with turbocharged engines you have a good spread of torque, so [drivers] do not want to have the gearbox constantly changing its mind.”
Quizzed over the policy to equip BMW’s M Division cars with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (known as M-DCT), Frolich said: “Seven gears is not optimum, it is a compromise. As in a manual gearbox, in a twin-clutch you must arrange all the gears in a line, so for weight and packaging reasons we are limited to seven speeds. But our new turbo M cars have so much torque this is no problem. DCT remains right for M cars because we can’t make a torque-convertor that would be durable up to 8000rpm.”
Frolich also confirmed that for the foreseeable future, the manual transmission is safe at BMW, both in M Division cars and regular non-performance models. “Of course, with a manual you are slower, but it is more emotional; it now says ‘I am a serious driver, I am a connoisseur’. So, we will continue [to offer a manual] even if only ten per cent of customers want it. That is why we offer a manual M5 sedan in North America. It is stupid – the development costs are huge – but we will keep doing it as long as the customer wants it.”
BMW unconvinced by Audi prediction
Asked about the possibility of three-cylinder engines in larger cars like the 3 Series and 5 Series, Frolich was unconvinced by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s prediction that this will become the norm within ten years. That’s despite four-cylinder turbo engines having beginning to usurp thirsty six-cylinders in the large executive saloon and estate class, in Europe at least.
Frolich forecasted: “[small engines in the larger cars] will happen, but only when the buyers are ready. Many buyers don’t care how many cylinders are in their BMW, and the new MINI shows the potential for three-cylinder. But honestly, it is much easier for us to make three-cylinder engines work with front-wheel drive than rear-wheel drive.”

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"So, we will continue [to offer a manual] even if only ten per cent of customers want it. That is why we offer a manual M5 sedan in North America. It is stupid – the development costs are huge – but we will keep doing it as long as the customer wants it.”

That's the best part of the thing IMO! Both in terms of not being forced into some n00b-o-matic, but also that (for once) profit doesn't seem to be the motivator, it's customer happiness

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Where have all of the manual drivers gone to? Most people drive horrible autos now, but years ago everyone was opting for manuals.

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Haven't twin clutches become 'cool' recently though? And faster/more economical too. Before they used to be slower and worse on fuel.

I'd still always have a manual though.

Might explain it?

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I love how they offer manual gearboxes in North America when so FEW people out there opt for manuals..

Bring Manual M2/3/4/5/6's to the UK FFS!! :P

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My golf is DSG, no better feeling than wide open throttle gear changes and knowing your car is half a second quicker to 60 than the manual equivalent. Just saying. :)

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My golf is DSG, no better feeling than wide open throttle gear changes and knowing your car is half a second quicker to 60 than the manual equivalent. Just saying. :)

But that's not what driving is all about (if you enjoy 'driving'), it's about the connection & control you have with/over the car. It's for reasons like this that I'd rather drive my 205 down a decent piece of Tarmac than any modern 'point & shoot' car out there - fine I'd almost certainly get there slower, but I'd have a lot more fun in the process.

I also don't get why they offer manuals to a market that has never liked them, yet offers the drivers of the home of most motorsports a f**king auto.

Edited by bungers

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I dunno, a good heel + toe downshift into a corner is pretty satisfying.

I press buttons at work all day, it's nice to have manual control over something physical when driving home, rather than just passing more commands into another computer.

I've been in a Golf with DSG, and it was an impressive bit of technology/mechanics, but just too isolated IMO. I'd rather buy a car that's fun/involving to drive, and in my mind, that comes from driver interaction, not having computers do it all for you (which is one of the things I preferred about my old Polo vs. my RX-8. Sure, it wasn't as fast or as good at anything as the Mazda (except MPG!), but that relative crapness meant I had to 'drive' the car, not just steer it around bends and let the ESP sort it out if needed, and that was much more fun IMO.)

Also why I went an E30 rather than spending the same cash on something modern like a Golf GTI (which would be much faster I bet, although more soulless)

Edited by TriggerFish

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I'm not a SMG/DCT/DSG etc fan boy, just thought I'd throw it in the mix. For what it's worth, if I were in the market for an ///M car I would like a 6 speed manual too. However, although I'm no expert, aren't I right in saying that in most, if not all types of competitive motorsport these days, cars are using the same 'semi auto/manual' set ups?

Ferrari, Lambo, McLaren, Bugatti etc, all use the same in their super & hyper cars.

There must be some sensation of connection with the road, otherwise manufacturers would revert back to a traditional clutch and stick.

I'm not trolling by the way, interesting topic.

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A lot of supercars are all about headline figures though, which maybe swaying it?

Most race series I've seen do use those semi auto boxes, yeah. I'm guessing they're faster and less prone to driver error.

I'm guessing people who make 'drivers' cars, like Lotus, Caterham, Ariel etc. all offer a stick option?

I can see the place for DSG etc., but I just don't think that it's for driving fun.

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I'm guessing people who make 'drivers' cars, like Lotus, Caterham, Ariel etc. all offer a stick option?

I know Caterham offer a "normal" manual gearbox and a "sequential" gearbox where the gear stick only moves forward (to change down) and back (to change up)

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I guess then it's mostly about pushing things forward, developing new technology 'just because'. I could say we are all Nokia 3210 fans when the world have all moved onto iphones. I'd like to see BMW offer both for the forseeable, take a cross section of BMW fans (ie us few here) and we are 100% agreed on which we would prefer. I'm sure other BMW forums would conclude the same.

On a slightly different note, but still on-topic. Browsing E46 M3 ads, I've often thought - 'how are there so many SMG's!?' Is it that they're all for sale and the manuals are all being thrashed down country lanes, or do SMG sales actually outweight manual? Topic for another thread maybe.. :)

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My golf is DSG, no better feeling than wide open throttle gear changes and knowing your car is half a second quicker to 60 than the manual equivalent. Just saying. :)

Gotta agree, I've driven a few DSG/DCT equipped cars and the shift between cogs under full load is nothing short of staggering ;)

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I hate Auto's..

I had one of those BMW F30 Sport Plus gearboxes in a 320i a while ago. On the move yes it was pretty good. Very quick changes and not much of a delay when changing.

But MY GOD the delay when setting off!! All Auto's have it.. Floor the throttle, wait, waiiit, waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiit, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit - AND WE'RE OFF!!

I've since found out the best way to launch is to push the throttle while on the brake pedal and lift of the brake when you want to go. Really? Seems pretty silly to me..

I'd much rather have a clutch! You can balance the car while changing gears, set off immediately, change gear whenever you want (even if it means locking the rear wheels on a downshift). I want it to be MY decision! :P

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No option to heel and toe, not interested, not a BMW which would involve me at the level I would like to be involved at, not all about the speed for me either, I just wanna feel like i'm driving ALL of it :)

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I hate Auto's..

I had one of those BMW F30 Sport Plus gearboxes in a 320i a while ago. On the move yes it was pretty good. Very quick changes and not much of a delay when changing.

But MY GOD the delay when setting off!! All Auto's have it.. Floor the throttle, wait, waiiit, waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiit, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit - AND WE'RE OFF!!

I've since found out the best way to launch is to push the throttle while on the brake pedal and lift of the brake when you want to go. Really? Seems pretty silly to me..

I'd much rather have a clutch! You can balance the car while changing gears, set off immediately, change gear whenever you want (even if it means locking the rear wheels on a downshift). I want it to be MY decision! :P

You should try it in a fully loaded snail o matic Truck, the wait is something you can measure in light years when trying to find a gap on a busy rush hour roundabout :D , takes some serious skill to judge the pickup just right so your moving at the moment a gap may or may not appear lol

Edited by Phantom Mark

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Where have all of the manual drivers gone to? Most people drive horrible autos now, but years ago everyone was opting for manuals.

Nobody ever opted for manuals. They got manuals because autos were a £2k option on a £10k car that made the car slower and less enjoyable to drive. Roads were more open back then. Fast forward to now and there's traffic everywhere, the auto option is more economical and arguably more reliable and they change gear so smoothly it's actually a really nice feeling when the car shifts gear for you.

I really like driving my autos. It's frustrating when I want to do some spirited driving but 90% of the time auto is the better choice for me. Having the quickshifter on the bike so I don't have to use the clutch for upshifts is equally awesome.

I have a Mercedes 190E Cosworth with a dogleg manual 'box (when it's on the road) for times when I fancy cog-swapping :)

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You should try it in a fully loaded snail o matic Truck, the wait is something you can measure in light years when trying to find a gap on a busy rush hour roundabout :D , takes some serious skill to judge the pickup just right so your moving at the moment a gap may or may not appear lol

I'd love to drive a truck but i'm afraid that if someone was stupid enough to let me behind the wheel of one i'd be hunting down stupid drivers and running them off the road - Grand Theft Auto style!! :D

Edited by momo

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Some vehicles suit an auto well, my old 530d Sport was well suited to the auto box, and my current car a Jeep Grand Cherokee 2.7 Crd suits the slush box well, I am never in a hurry and when in heavy traffic I always sit back and relax at the sensible choice I made :D

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Auto for lazy driving and manual for proper driving.

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