Originally Posted by Ted
There may be a cultural difference between UK and US here, it appears that in the US an auto gearbox is far more acceptable, whereas in the UK auto's have been typically disregarded by enthusiasts due to power loss from torque converters and disconnecting the driver from the driving experience. Admittedly autos are improving and continue to narrow the gap between manual and auto.
I don't know about cultural differences between the US and UK as they relate to choice of transmissions, but since we are talking about M3s here, then I don't think automatic transmissions with torque converters are relevant to our discussion.
I used to be a die-hard manual tranny guy, but SMG in the E46 M3 has won me over.
Granted, at some point automation takes away from the experience. I do not think that taking away the clutch pedal crosses the line into too much automation for enthusiast driving. You still must modulate the throttle for smoothness, you still decide which gear to use. You can even keep that left foot involved by left foot braking! It is a great technique, especially on the track.