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      03-05-2008, 08:25 PM   #1
gblansten
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Let's talk joy of driving: 6MT vs M-DCT

Help a guy on the fence:

I have driven manuals for over a decade now. Sometimes shifting gets old in heavy traffic but overall I enjoy driving a manual transmission car.

For my next car I am strongly considering the M3 coupe. I have been enthusiastic about the M-DCT because of shift speed and the opportunity for auto mode in heavy traffic.

The past week I have been driving my wife's IS350 and have tried paddle shifting. I'll be the first to admit that the car's transmission doesn't shift as fast as the M-DCT should. The problem is that it just doesn't seem fun to move the paddles like it does to hit the clutch and shift manually.

Instead of just saying "get a manual problem solved" I was hoping the SMG crew could tell how they viewed the E46 system and how much they enjoyed it compared to the manual. Did you just wind up driving in auto mode all the time? Or did you really like the SMG and why if so?

Thanks.


(I did a search on "M-DCT" for some talk on this and didn't find much that is geared towards my questions.)
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      03-05-2008, 09:05 PM   #2
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I'd suggest taking a test drive with M-DCT when its available. Then make your decision.

PS. If you decide on M-DCT we will gladly welcome you to the Official M-DCT Club
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      03-05-2008, 09:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K3N R3D View Post
I'd suggest taking a test drive with M-DCT when its available. Then make your decision.

PS. If you decide on M-DCT we will gladly welcome you to the Official M-DCT Club
Looking forward to a test drive but it is more the living with it that I worry about. It's hard to get the feel for it on a quick test drive.
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      03-05-2008, 09:22 PM   #4
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Great question.

I'd love to hear from people who have driven manual all their life but are now in an SMG or Automatic car.... is it boring? Do you miss the action and full control of a manual?

I have the same concern.
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      03-05-2008, 09:36 PM   #5
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I can give you a little insight as my dad has owned a 2002 SMG since new. He always drives it in the manual mode unless he's doing something with his shifting hand like drinking a soda or something along those lines. I've driven it on occasion and I always drive it in the manual mode.

As for me, I've driven manuals since I got my driver's license in 1980. I'm going with the M-DCT because I love the technology, the speed, the ease of use and the consistency. I also participate in BMW CCA drivers school and I think the DCT is really going to shine on the track as did the SMG. The SMG's weakness, in my opinion was putting around town at low RPMs, because the shifts were slow. The DCT should eliminate that shortcoming of the transmission.

I know I'm not a SMG owner, but I've drive one a lot and that's my experience and thoughts.
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      03-05-2008, 09:38 PM   #6
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The manual is more fun when the car is not a daily driver. Stop and go traffic, snow and other incliment conditions make a high power manual car just uncomforable (in my opinion). I like the M-DCT (opinion based on what DSG and Ferrari F1 are like). Its delivery is going to be world class smooth, and Formula One fast.
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      03-05-2008, 09:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skierman64 View Post
I can give you a little insight as my dad has owned a 2002 SMG since new. He always drives it in the manual mode unless he's doing something with his shifting hand like drinking a soda or something along those lines. I've driven it on occasion and I always drive it in the manual mode.

As for me, I've driven manuals since I got my driver's license in 1980. I'm going with the M-DCT because I love the technology, the speed, the ease of use and the consistency. I also participate in BMW CCA drivers school and I think the DCT is really going to shine on the track as did the SMG. The SMG's weakness, in my opinion was putting around town at low RPMs, because the shifts were slow. The DCT should eliminate that shortcoming of the transmission.

I know I'm not a SMG owner, but I've drive one a lot and that's my experience and thoughts.
Thanks. I hope we get some more comments like yours.
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      03-05-2008, 09:52 PM   #8
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G,

Maybe you should mosey over to the E46 part of this forum and ask your same question there to some SMG owners. You might get more responses than here on the E92 section. If they aren't thinking of upgrading, they may not be looking on this section of the forum.

Mike
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      03-05-2008, 10:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Delbruck View Post
Great question.

I'd love to hear from people who have driven manual all their life but are now in an SMG or Automatic car.... is it boring? Do you miss the action and full control of a manual?

I have the same concern.
I have only owned manual cars starting with a 1982 320i. I have never been able to stand driving automatic cars. I hate the disconected and slushy feeling they have. I would never, never own an auto.

I picked up my SMG E46 back in Jan 2002 and never looked back. It takes some adjusment. However, once you do you realize its just a manual with a different way of telling the car what to do. Instead of pressing two pedals and shoving a lever around to control shifts you now pull a paddle and press one pedal. You retain all the same control as you had before.

I used my E46 as both a track car (now retired) and a daily driver. SMG is at its best at the track but good on the street. My complaints were always how slowly it shifted at low rpm and light load. From all indications thats not an issue with the new system.

Its progressed to the point where the biggest gripe about the lotus is its not an SMG car (and it spends too much time in the shop). I realize to some people that pushing that lever around is somhow part of driving. To me its just an interface how I tell the car what I want it to do.

I don't miss manuals one bit and would never buy another one given a choice on the car.
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      03-05-2008, 10:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skierman64 View Post
G,

Maybe you should mosey over to the E46 part of this forum and ask your same question there to some SMG owners. You might get more responses than here on the E92 section. If they aren't thinking of upgrading, they may not be looking on this section of the forum.

Mike

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      03-05-2008, 10:29 PM   #11
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Enigma, Great review...I concur 100%.
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      03-05-2008, 10:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigma View Post
I have only owned manual cars starting with a 1982 320i. I have never been able to stand driving automatic cars. I hate the disconected and slushy feeling they have. I would never, never own an auto.

I picked up my SMG E46 back in Jan 2002 and never looked back. It takes some adjusment. However, once you do you realize its just a manual with a different way of telling the car what to do. Instead of pressing two pedals and shoving a lever around to control shifts you now pull a paddle and press one pedal. You retain all the same control as you had before.

I used my E46 as both a track car (now retired) and a daily driver. SMG is at its best at the track but good on the street. My complaints were always how slowly it shifted at low rpm and light load. From all indications thats not an issue with the new system.

Its progressed to the point where the biggest gripe about the lotus is its not an SMG car (and it spends too much time in the shop). I realize to some people that pushing that lever around is somhow part of driving. To me its just an interface how I tell the car what I want it to do.

I don't miss manuals one bit and would never buy another one given a choice on the car.
That's good to hear. I guess I shouldn't write the M-DCT off.
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      03-05-2008, 11:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I realize to some people that pushing that lever around is somhow part of driving. To me its just an interface how I tell the car what I want it to do.
god...couldn't have said that better
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      03-05-2008, 11:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigma View Post
IIts progressed to the point where the biggest gripe about the lotus is its not an SMG car (and it spends too much time in the shop). I realize to some people that pushing that lever around is somhow part of driving. To me its just an interface how I tell the car what I want it to do.

I don't miss manuals one bit and would never buy another one given a choice on the car.
I haven't driven an SMG, but I'll buy most of your point about the interface. You do give up a degree of control in terms of being able to decide on each shift how you want to engage it, or the ability to instantly blip the throttle to show off. I probably would have gotten one, despite being a lifelong manual driver myself, if the timing had been better.
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      03-06-2008, 12:05 AM   #15
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You do give up a degree of control in terms of being able to decide on each shift how you want to engage it, or the ability to instantly blip the throttle to show off.
You can control engagement with the throttle pedal. Thats the trick that most people don't know and miss when they go for a test drive. If you ever ride in an SMG car and its jerking on shifts either the driver is doing in on purpose or doesn't know what they are doing.
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      03-06-2008, 04:02 AM   #16
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No Greg, stick with 6MT
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      03-06-2008, 04:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigma View Post
You can control engagement with the throttle pedal. Thats the trick that most people don't know and miss when they go for a test drive. If you ever ride in an SMG car and its jerking on shifts either the driver is doing in on purpose or doesn't know what they are doing.
Or, as a variation on option B, they have always had their foot in the wrong position and momentum of acceleration then letting up in stop/go traffic causes the jerks... changing my heel position worked wonders, but I still occasionally find the bad habit coming out.
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      03-06-2008, 05:11 AM   #18
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gblansten,

Please listen to me as someone who has lived both with a Dual Clutch GTI and a manual version of the same car. The DSG GTI also has paddles just like the IS350 and the M3 will have and to be perfectly honest with you mate you will take that test drive in the new M3 DCT and will be blown away with the system, I was with the DSG Golf when I drove it and placed the order that day. But my time with the car went like this, for the first month or so I marvelled at the speed of the change and used manual almost exclusively but as time progressed with the ownership I increasingly started to use the auto modes, mostly like you had said, I using it in heavy traffic and stop, start driving but this increased to almost exclusively using auto mode.

The problems is that off the race track paddles become a nonsense, something which gets in the way of driving the car in daily life, you will find that because they are connected to the wheel that you can't change easily at roundabouts or 90 degree corners. You will forget you are in manual mode, be it because you are watch the traffic or talking to your passengers and find yourself in the wrong gear for that next corner. DSG and in doubt DCT are so good in auto modes that manual isn't really any better and in most cases it won't actually be as good so why use it. That is what I ended up realising, that it's auto mode is all you will ever need and sadly that was not what I was after.

If you can live with the knowledge that you will almost exclusively end up using it as a true automatic and only occasionally want to use the paddles then by all means go for it, but if not then think long and hard about your decision.

Last edited by footie; 03-06-2008 at 08:33 AM.
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      03-06-2008, 06:35 AM   #19
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I think I go along with that Footie, I've been driving a bmw steptronic for 4 years after 18 years of manual and while the manual modes are fun you just end up in auto.

I also had a new 635D for a week about a month ago with the latest sport steptronic and was very impressed with the speed of change, while I expect DCT will be instant the sport auto time seemed very fast.

One thing that often bugs me about these systems is the lack of feedback of which gear you are in, your hand tells you this on a subconscious level when driving a manual and this is possibly one of the things that is missing driving paddles. The M5 HUD goes some way to helping here but having to glance at the dash to see what gear you are in is pita.

Currently driving a 320D until my M3 arrives and really enjoying being back in a manual car. (yeah I know DCT is leagues better than a step etc etc)
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      03-06-2008, 11:57 AM   #20
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With SMG, I still shift for everything. We'll see if the auto modes are really that great with DCT, but I suspect I will always paddleshift.
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      03-06-2008, 12:19 PM   #21
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DSG, DCT, SMG...blah blah blah, it's still an auto. Sure, it's not a standard automatic transmission, but you still have no control over the clutch. Yes, it makes sense on the track, and I would love to have a sequential transmission on the track, but it's still not a MT and you're not as connected to the car as you could be. I sit in stop and go traffic every now and then, and the 3rd pedal sucks sometimes, but those times are few and far between. I couldn't justify paying more for a piece of technology that shifts for me just to save a few hundredths of a second when shifting.

Here's something to think about: Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the biggest difference between steptronic and DCT is that DCT shifts faster. Granted, one's an auto and one has auto clutches, but that doesn't change the fact that all you're doing is pressing a button to change gears.
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      03-06-2008, 01:03 PM   #22
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My background: I have always owned MTs and like enigma don't like autos and would not really considering owning one. However, that being said automatics like the new C63 AMG and IS-F are pretty darn impressive. I have driven SMGII in the E46 M3 enough to get comfortable with it and have decent control but definitely did not fully master it (my E46 M3 was a MT, unfortunately). My M-DCT M3 is on order for May delivery.

gblansten and cowmoo, you guys are wrong here. A dual clutch system is far from an automatic. The internals of the transmission are, more or less, a real full fledged MANUAL TRANSMISSION. These internals along with the dual clutch really are the essense of the tranmission and define how it shifts and how it feels. Its software is the other absolutely key thing that will determine its feel and performance. Sure in automatic mode the M-DCT transmission will very likely be essentially, IN PRACTICE, an automatic, but also far superior to any true automatic due to the lower parasitic losses, faster and smoother shifts. All of those will contribute to improved mpg as well.

I disagree with footie (as I usually do). Your ownership and experience with VWs DSG is very valuable to this discussion but it does not make your OPINIONS irrefutable. What the heck is so bad about an automatic like transmission for day to day commuting or heavy traffic and paddles with F1 like transmission performance for sporty street/twisty driving or on the track? You are also patently wrong that all or most buyers of such a system will default to automatic mode most of the time. Sure your average badge whore/poser who never drives the M3 as it was meant to be will. However, many M5/M6 folks use the SMG manual modes almost exclusively. Footie, when will you ever learn that just becuase you do or like something a particular way that it is "right", the "only way" or the way everyone else WILL do it??? You are wrong. Furthermore like enigma said with a DCT you WILL be able to control the shifts and control the clutch - you simply do it in different ways. These are the ways:
  • The aggressiveness you are driving will control the gear changes and clutch operations
  • Your choice of modes between the various manual and automatic modes will offer fairly different levels of feel, clutching speed and smoothness as well as a myriad of other more subtle options that bridge the gap between comfort and race type behavior
  • The gas pedal action during the shift will offer some control over the shifts and clutching

GregW - I suspect M-DCT will offer a way to engage neutral as well for a bit of throttle showing off!

Let's not forget the joy you will get from your car having effectively 20 more hp and 20 more ft lb of torque. This is the real advantage of the gearing changes and the speed of the shifts compared to the 6MT. Please tell me +20/+20 is not pure joy!

In conclusion you can get your joy from pushing a pedal and rowing a gear lever or from accomplishing and focusing on other aspects of your driving.
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