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      05-05-2008, 04:51 PM   #1
swamp2
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600 miles with my M-DCT Coupe

Sorry for the delay, some comments are long overdue. Been working like a dog and went camping this weekend as well. All of my free time other than that since the pickup on the 30th has been spent driving! As soon as I get it the clear bra installed and get it properly detailed (as compared to what you get from the dealer on pick up) I'll be sure to share some pics. Until then you'll just have my comments.

Even when sticking to break in procedures the car is an absolute blast. I had been on the list for so long and waiting all that time was really quite painful, waiting for pictures (way back to waiting in real time for the Geneva unveiling), waiting for information (there was always a dearth) and still we are waiting for a real M-DCT review. The wait was absolutely worth it. I am getting miles racked up as fast as possible to get to the magic 1200 mi point and service. I can only imagine the sensations after that point, the thrust, the noise, and the adrenalin. It is great now and is going to get even better, really soon.

My dealer told me around the 27th (April) that my delivery window was April 30 best case, to May 6 worst case. I checked in again with them on the 30th and they said to call again tomorrow. They called back just less than an hour after that and said, "guess what just rolled of the truck?". As you can only image my heart skipped a beat or two. The “end” was finally in sight. Even better they said I could pick her up in just a couple of hours. I made all sort of complex logistical plans with a colleague, my fiancée, her car, the train, etc. to make it all come together this same day. I suppose them wanting to be able to count this sale as a month end deal played a significant role in their eagerness to get my car to me. I'm actually quite happy that I did not get the notice of a pickup "the next day" saving me from what clearly would have been a restless and mostly sleepless night.

Comfort access is great. Keep the key in your pocket, grab the normal spot you would on the door handle and pop - there goes the locks. Get your mirrors and seat set up and it is all memorized (and memorized to one of your two keys). Press the start button and she rumbles to life. The car has quite a rough idle on initial start up. I guess that is only natural with a high performance, high compression V8 with a decent cam. It settles down quite a bit after a very short time leaving a pleasant but still noticeably rough and audible idle. The absence of any sound absorbing or blocking material on the hood clearly contributes to the sound from both outside as well as inside the cabin. To me the transmission (M-DCT) is the most interesting and compelling option available with the car and the one that makes it the most unique. Since others have spoken about the car's performance once broken in and most of us have seen plenty of videos, I'll go right to M-DCT, which is the area where much information and discussion is lacking.

M-DCT is fantastic, period. The two basic modes and all of the sub-modes are fantastic as well. Just like the rest of the car (stability control, steering, suspension, throttle) M-DCT is highly adjustable. It defaults to manual mode and a quick flick of the lever to the right places it in automatic mode. I was so excited and nervous when driving off from the dealer I just stuck with automatic mode for a bit. In the lower modes all upshifts occur quite early (at low rpm) and are silky smooth yet still incredibly quick. 7th gear arrives so quickly and with no drama even when puttering around side streets. Rev matches during downshifting are subtle. When increasing the mode number (hence the aggressiveness) the shifts occur at higher and higher rpms. As well the eagerness to downshift (pedal depression required to initiate, specifically) and number of gears that will be taken when quickly stabbing the throttle all nicely ramp up through the modes. In the higher modes 7th->5th (or even 4th) is quick and occurs effortlessly when you just grab even a moderate amount of throttle. Of course it will go even further 7->3 (or whatever) but there is some risk of getting way above the recommended break in rpm limit by doing nothing more than just jamming the gas pedal down. As you might guess I have not used the kick down feature as that would clearly take you well over the suggested rpm limit during break in. If it is anywhere as good as 7->5, I’ll be thrilled.
Moving over to manual mode to use the beautiful full aluminum paddles brings some excitement as well. Like all area of the car the attention to detail is great, the + and – signs are etched into the aluminum and then they are clear anodized. There is a very slight but noticeable delay between the paddle click and the beginning of an upshift. Lucid and others have mentioned a more severe case of this with the VW DSG in the GTI. I suspect this delay is only a very small fraction of what they have reported. Many might say the delay is so short that there is not delay but for sure it is there. Because of this it is actually fairly easy to get past your desired shift point. This is definitely not a real annoyance or detractor but this slight delay is there. This delay actually seems to be longer for upshifts and shorter for downshifts. When driving aggressively the shift lights will absolutely help nail ideal shift points. Manual modes 1-3 are all quite smooth and fast. The real distinctions among them will not be clear until some higher rpm or track work comes around or until instrumented testing can be accomplished. In S4 and S5 you do feel the surge (jerk, snap, jolt, etc.) on upshift that has been discussed extensively here on the forum. Of course the higher rpm of your shift and the further you are in to the throttle the larger the surge is. That being said it is never close to the jerk of SMG (nor that of a well executed shift in a manual). It may be the case that the surge changes smoothly from S1->S5 but as of now it does seem like it is only present in S4 and S5. Double upshifts do catch the in between gear for just a spit second and then continues right on to the selected gear. However, double paddle downshifts seem to skip the middle gear entirely. If they catch the middle gear it is not at all obvious from watching the tach and listening. The double downshifts are definitely more impressive, but who really needs a double upshift when accelerating with any vigor whatsoever? In this way the M-DCT during upshfiting is very much like a true sequential. At this point my favorite mode is probably S3, just a perfect combination of speed, feel and rev matching. Take off from a start, wind her up to the recommended 5500 rpm limit (grab the paddle at about 5000) and boom, you are in second in an instant, fast but smooth, the revs build really fast right back to 5000 rpm again, grab the paddle again and you are in 3rd, again in an instant. Like Chris from Autocar said, “it’s like a dog box… like driving a racing car”. Lather, rinse, repeat, it is almost brainless yet is still quite satisfying at the same time. I can't wait for the M-DCT experience at 8000+ rpm and at those rpms in the twisties. Launch control will certainly be a huge blast as well. I just need to keep up the proper restraint until the magic 1st service.

Other comments:

EDC:

Would not get the car without it. You can definitely notice the difference between the three modes, comfort/normal/sport. One easy way to notice the difference is on a wavy concrete freeway section with fairly high frequency low amplitude bumps. These modes behave exactly and you would expect. Comfort feels like a sporty sedan, normal like an M3 “should feel” and sport feels like your cheeks are bouncing way too much. Certainly experimenting with the adjustment in the twisties and much closer to the cars limits will be interesting but not quite there yet.

Niceties/Misc:

-Red/orange in door ambient lighting (not sure if that is the right term) strips are really cool. They adjust in brightness along with the entire dash light level.
-White LED down lights from door handles on unlock and vehicle departure and really cool, useful and classy.
-Seat width adjustment is memorized (unlike E46 M3) and accommodates thin folks perfectly well.
-Throttle adjustment mapping is way better than E46 M3. Normal makes the car easy to drive with no significant loss of response time or throttle control. Sport adds just enough improved pedal responsiveness to quick throttle inputs but does not make the car at all difficult to drive. IMO the sport setting on the E46 M3 was terrible and way too sensitive. Have not played much with sport plus yet.
-Stock 19 inch wheel are absolutely gorgeous and the grey paint inside the wheel just about matches Space Grey perfectly. The large concave dishing in the center of each wheel is their most interesting aesthetic aspect IMO.
-Steering never feels too light to me. Servotronic does a nice job of slightly decreasing wheel effort around the parking lot yet provides a firm and appropriate level of force feedback at speed. Furthermore steering feel is not overly isolated. You can clearly feel periodic freeway "ruts" right through the steering wheel vibration. I have been using normal mode almost exclusively thus far. It will be interesting to see if I feel that either the normal or sport modes are over boosted or lacking feel on center during more work in the twisties. Just FYI and as a point of references the car for which I am most used to the steering on is my current E36 M3.
-Dual/split screen mode on the iDrive display is cool. Tunes (or climate or phone calls) on one side and your Navi map on the other.
-The programmable buttons on the radio are fantastic. You can program in a common nav destination, phone number, radio station, etc. You get visual feedback on the screen by just hovering your finger over the buttons and hence can double check the command before committing.

Annoyances:

The car is so darn good it ends up being easy to find some small flaws. None of these are serious enough reasons not to buy or love this amazing vehicle. They are worth pointing out so folks will be aware and can examine them in greater detail if they think they may amount to personal deal breakers.

-Minor orange peel, seems a bit lower quality than BMW paint in the past.
-Front seats do seem like they could/should drop just a bit lower (has been reported in the past).
-Glove box is a bit small and can not hold the manual in its case.
-Leather on main lower cushions on front seats is not wrapped tight enough and is already wrinkling (I will consider submitting this under warranty).
-Ocassional and slight noise and perhaps "clunk" when rolling to a stop and M-DCT is auto downshifting. This is VERY slight and you really have to pay attention to notice it.
-iDrive: I am getting more and more used to the interface but it is not the best. Many times is it simply not clear if you should be titling the controller or rolling the wheel. As well sometimes the highlighting that shows you what is active is not quite visible enough. Navigation menu nesting is very non-intuitive as well. The manual clearly needs a pictorial section (“cheat sheet”) showing every menu and sub-menu because it is not entirely intuitive where a given function will be located.
-Fit and finish of upper mirror wing (gap and alignment issues, discussed previously)

Mods:

Just some minor and easy cosmetic stuff so far (most just installed last night).

-Flat black kidneys (the only chrome on the entire car is the kidneys and the side gills and it looks out of place (IMHO) in both areas. I got my grilles from JleviSW and they mentioned they will have flat black side gill parts soon.
-OEM BMW aluminum pedals.
-GP Thunder 8500 bulbs. H3s and H8s (one of each on each side) to better color match all lighting in each light assembly. As per previous posts a dramatic improvement and reduction (near elimination) of the ugly yellow light of the angel eyes and cornering lamps. I am on the same page as GregW - how has BMW overlooked such a basic point – color matching. It must have been by choice.
-M3 floor mats (on back order, ugh...)
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      05-05-2008, 05:08 PM   #2
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+1 Swamp. My reactions are very much as yours. The DCT is just such a pleasant suprise. My car has it's 1200 mile dealer visit set for Thursday. I have been especially impressed with the highway comfort. Instead of my wife's 7 series we have made two 330 mile round trips to Dallas in the M3. Easy trips. Frustrating that your limited to 5500 or so. Once that restraint is over, I'll have lots to write about living in rural east Texas.
Many backroads to play on.
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      05-05-2008, 05:17 PM   #3
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Great review thanks!
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      05-05-2008, 05:18 PM   #4
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thanks for posting, I have to read the whole post yet, to get back with any questions, but just wanted to say thanks it's hard for us who have never seen a DCT live and in person to plunk down a deposit and then $70K on a car with a tranny we have no idea if it's going to be good or not.
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      05-05-2008, 05:57 PM   #5
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Quote: "EDC:

Would not get the car without it. You can definitely notice the difference between the three modes, comfort/normal/sport. One easy way to notice the difference is on a wavy concrete freeway section with fairly high frequency low amplitude bumps."

Completely agree. If I had to drive around in normal or sport, it would be complete misery on some of nasty Seattle I5 sections.
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      05-05-2008, 05:57 PM   #6
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swamp,

First off, congratulations on receiving your new car.

Secondly, thanks for the first in depth report on DCT, it sounds like it's all you were expecting and more. It's interesting that you are finding S3 your preferred manual mode, it's the most aggressive without the jerk/surge and according to what I have been told it's every bit as quick as S5/6 is the actual shift though only proper measuring will be able to prove either way. Regarding the slightly delay between paddle and the actual shift, the DSG in the GTI also has it but I don't know until I sample M-DCT if it's any more the DSG, I will say that I tried the same gearbox in a TT 3.2 and found it to behave slightly quicker, whether there should be a difference is unknown but it was there.

Swamp, could you please reply telling us how you are finding the auto modes, so far your comments are centering on the manual modes. I am interested to see how it performance in stop/start traffic and especially the crawl mode as this wasn't present on the DSG.

Once again congrats.
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      05-05-2008, 05:59 PM   #7
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about fucking time... i'll start reading now
i dont see pics, but maybe they're blocked for me haha

edit: done reading. congrats and very good review on DCT. fuck i can tell ur hella excited. have fun
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      05-05-2008, 07:28 PM   #8
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Regarding the slight delay in shifting using the paddle shifters... is that to say there is not a delay using the center console control? I would assume they would be exactly the same, but just wasn't clear from your description.
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      05-05-2008, 08:02 PM   #9
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Great to hear you like DCT Swamp, and, of course, congrats!

The car will do amazing things when you can go all the way up to redline in 2nd gear. I had an experience that blew me away the other night getting on a twisty ramp. Simply amazing...
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      05-05-2008, 08:24 PM   #10
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Swamp,

Thanks for sharing your insights!

Regarding the "slight delay" you mention from the paddle click to the beginning of the actual upshift by the transmission, how does it compare to the M3 or M5's SMG? Is the delay in the M-DCT more or less than the SMG counterparts? I've always recognized a slight delay in my M5's SMG but it never bothered me. The delay in MB's 7G tronic and Audi's tiptronic however, does bother me. Would you say the M-DCT has a similar delay from paddle click to upshift as the SMG? And does this delay decrease when going up to a more aggressive shift program like it does in the M5's SMG3 for example? (My M5 has a huge delay when in S1 but almost non-existent when shifting near redline in S6)
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      05-05-2008, 08:27 PM   #11
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Swamp - great write-up and congrats!

I completely agree with everything you have written. I picked up my M-DCT car last weekend and although it rained all weekend have put about 110 miles on it. I've driven an Audi A3 with DSG and M-DCT is better than that very good transmission. The shifts are faster and the automatic mode is much better. It's everything I hoped it would be and more.

The automatic mode is truly amazing. It is better than a normal automatic for two reasons. First, you can't feel the shifts. Secondly, you are able to select a program that fits exactly what you want to do. As you mentioned, it is so good that I haven't been able to really test the aggressive auto modes as one will definitely blow past the break in limits. As for the question about stop and go traffic, the automatic mode works great as does the low speed assistant. However, it is also painless to use the manual mode since it is merely a flick of the levers.

I'll also confirm that your description of the manual mode is spot on.

Lucid and I am going to get together soon and do the V1 hardwire and do a photo shoot. I'll post more impressions with more miles and pictures then.
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      05-05-2008, 09:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by footie View Post
Swamp, could you please reply telling us how you are finding the auto modes, so far your comments are centering on the manual modes. I am interested to see how it performance in stop/start traffic and especially the crawl mode as this wasn't present on the DSG.

Once again congrats.
Thanks foot. I tried to desribe both auto and manual modes. My initial opinion about S3 may very well change once the break in procedure is over. However, this was your guess at "the best" mode and I think you were right. You still feel a surge in S3 but it is not so sharp (i.e. no such a short time duration) and not so large. Once in S4 and at higher rpms you really feel it. As I mentioned auto mode is fantastic and covers a nice range in overall aggressiveness from the low to high modes. Performance in start/stop traffic is great as well. If you are literally stopping and starting I'd suggest auto mode without using the creep option. There are no problems getting on the gas really slow or fast. If you are creeping along with little stopping I would suggest the creep mode. Just give the gas pedal the smallest of taps and the car creep much like and automatic. Then you can nicely control your speed via the brakes.

I have noticed a small and non repeatable take off anomaly. When taking off aggressively (but not to the point of tire spin, WOT or >5500 rpm) if you decide before 2nd gear that you are too heavy on the gas and let off quickly you can get a small instability of jerking back and forth. Your body/leg momentum actually alternates the throttle creating a feedback system. This absolutely can happen in a MT as well and is probably just a matter of adjusting your technique to deal with this somewhat rare situation.

The car starting in 2nd gear in D1 is pretty cool as well, REALLY smooth and eliminates the early 1-2 shift. You can also force a 2nd gear start in manual modes, which is a nice capability.
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      05-05-2008, 09:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticBlue View Post
Regarding the slight delay in shifting using the paddle shifters... is that to say there is not a delay using the center console control? I would assume they would be exactly the same, but just wasn't clear from your description.
There is no difference between using the stick or paddles with regards to this very small delay. Of course the double shifts in manual mode is way easier with paddles compared to stick.
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      05-05-2008, 09:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masmole View Post
Swamp,

Thanks for sharing your insights!

Regarding the "slight delay" you mention from the paddle click to the beginning of the actual upshift by the transmission, how does it compare to the M3 or M5's SMG? Is the delay in the M-DCT more or less than the SMG counterparts? I've always recognized a slight delay in my M5's SMG but it never bothered me. The delay in MB's 7G tronic and Audi's tiptronic however, does bother me. Would you say the M-DCT has a similar delay from paddle click to upshift as the SMG? And does this delay decrease when going up to a more aggressive shift program like it does in the M5's SMG3 for example? (My M5 has a huge delay when in S1 but almost non-existent when shifting near redline in S6)
Great questions but I don't think I can answer them. I have spent some time in an SMG II M3 but none in a SMG III 5er or 6er. I do not think the delay changes with mode selection, it is just the time it takes for the system to process the input and fully commit to an action. I would bet/guess it is very similar to SMG III.
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      05-05-2008, 10:27 PM   #15
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Great review......it makes the wait for mine that much more PAINFUL!!
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      05-05-2008, 10:35 PM   #16
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great, thanks
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      05-05-2008, 10:43 PM   #17
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Def one of the best DCT reviews!
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      05-05-2008, 10:45 PM   #18
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Great review swamp!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post

-Leather on main lower cushions on front seats is not wrapped tight enough and is already wrinkling (I will consider submitting this under warranty).
I agree with you 100%, mine are like that too. I looked at some photos online and it seems like this is happening with all the seats. Let me know how your dealer handles it when you submit it under warranty.
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      05-05-2008, 10:52 PM   #19
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Swamp, thanks for taking the time to write the review. Sounds like the DCT is all that you were hoping it to be. Look forward to hearing more after break-in. Enjoy.
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      05-05-2008, 11:34 PM   #20
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Great write up! Thanks Swamp!

Your comments about the steering echo mine after driving Navnurs's M3 the other day. Not surprising considering we are both used to E36 M3's!

Would you guess the clunk you hear occasionally is the aggressive LSD?

Not happy to hear about the leather issues.... I am getting the cloth/leather seats...maybe I wont have this problem. I wish I could forgo leather after fighting the uphill battle with my E36.

I am looking forward to a get together with you and Kurtt....hopefully I will have mine by then.

Oh, and where are my pics????....hahaha Jk

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      05-06-2008, 12:09 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
Thanks foot. I tried to desribe both auto and manual modes. My initial opinion about S3 may very well change once the break in procedure is over. However, this was your guess at "the best" mode and I think you were right. You still feel a surge in S3 but it is not so sharp (i.e. no such a short time duration) and not so large. Once in S4 and at higher rpms you really feel it. As I mentioned auto mode is fantastic and covers a nice range in overall aggressiveness from the low to high modes. Performance in start/stop traffic is great as well. If you are literally stopping and starting I'd suggest auto mode without using the creep option. There are no problems getting on the gas really slow or fast. If you are creeping along with little stopping I would suggest the creep mode. Just give the gas pedal the smallest of taps and the car creep much like and automatic. Then you can nicely control your speed via the brakes.
It's nice to see that we are finally seeing eye to eye on DCT if maybe only briefly. I don't doubt that on the odd occasion S5/6 will be nice but I reckon on the whole the smoother experience and equally as fast S3 will prove to be the one most will prefer on a daily bases.

The creep mode is something that I wished DSG had at the time as parking was a bit hit or miss to move the car smoothly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
I have noticed a small and non repeatable take off anomaly. When taking off aggressively (but not to the point of tire spin, WOT or >5500 rpm) if you decide before 2nd gear that you are too heavy on the gas and let off quickly you can get a small instability of jerking back and forth. Your body/leg momentum actually alternates the throttle creating a feedback system. This absolutely can happen in a MT as well and is probably just a matter of adjusting your technique to deal with this somewhat rare situation.

The car starting in 2nd gear in D1 is pretty cool as well, REALLY smooth and eliminates the early 1-2 shift. You can also force a 2nd gear start in manual modes, which is a nice capability.
It will be interesting to see if the delay is less in either the higher modes or nearer maximum revs. I think the guys are concerning themselves too much on this, I doubt it's a major problem as I never found it that big of a deal with my GTI.
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      05-06-2008, 12:19 AM   #22
swamp2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by footie View Post
It's nice to see that we are finally seeing eye to eye on DCT if maybe only briefly. I don't doubt that on the odd occasion S5/6 will be nice but I reckon on the whole the smoother experience and equally as fast S3 will prove to be the one most will prefer on a daily bases.

The creep mode is something that I wished DSG had at the time as parking was a bit hit or miss to move the car smoothly.



It will be interesting to see if the delay is less in either the higher modes or nearer maximum revs. I think the guys are concerning themselves too much on this, I doubt it's a major problem as I never found it that big of a deal with my GTI.
Yes, +1 nice to find common ground and agree. S3 is great, period.

The delay is absolutely not a big deal. It sounded like is absolutely was during Lucids GTI test drive but here it is so short and the overall responsiveness is so good it is almost a non-issues. I hope I am making that clear to folks. I would like to know if the delay is as good as the new Scuderia SMG box though.... That thing is amazing, including from what I can tell in vids - this "delay".
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