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      06-25-2009, 02:42 AM   #1
SteveW25561
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DCT and drivers with no manual experience

I'm literally THIS close to pulling the trigger on an 09 M3 convertible with DCT. A few questions:

1. My wife & I have only ever driven automatic cars (yes, yes, let the flames begin) so we'd need the DCT transmission. Is there anything someone who hasn't driven manual cars needs to know re: using the DCT transmission? Is it as simple as start and go and functionally the SAME as a normal automatic?

2. ANY information on the 2010 models? If I order now, my car will likely arrive in September and I think this is when the 2010's are coming. Small changes I can live with, but a big facelift or another revision would make me feel silly for buying now.

Thanks, and please be kind...
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      06-25-2009, 04:10 AM   #2
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I find that the DCT is a brilliant piece of engineering in almost all respects. I have been driving manuals for the past 14 years and the DCT was my first "auto", although occasionally I have also driven automatics (friend / family cars etc). I am very happy with it overall and I have never had second thoughts after 1 year of ownership.

HOWEVER one issue you need to be aware of before you pull the plug is the famous low speed "DCT lag" issue. There are endless threads about this issue - just refer to the forum stickies. There is some speculation lately that maybe with the latest software / hardware carried in newly produced M3s (or in older cars with the latest software) this may not be an issue anymore. To make an informed decision I recon that you read about it so you are aware of it and note that your new car may come with the DCT lag (hopefully not - but it may).

In my opinion even with the DCT lag this transmission rocks. I have also complained expensively about the DCT lag in this forum and also numerous times verbally and in writting to BMW, but still I love the transmission in all regards.

If I was able to move back in time I would still get my M3 with the DCT even if someone would guarantee to me that the lag would be there for ever.
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      06-25-2009, 07:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveW25561 View Post
I'm literally THIS close to pulling the trigger on an 09 M3 convertible with DCT. A few questions:

1. My wife & I have only ever driven automatic cars (yes, yes, let the flames begin) so we'd need the DCT transmission. Is there anything someone who hasn't driven manual cars needs to know re: using the DCT transmission? Is it as simple as start and go and functionally the SAME as a normal automatic?

2. ANY information on the 2010 models? If I order now, my car will likely arrive in September and I think this is when the 2010's are coming. Small changes I can live with, but a big facelift or another revision would make me feel silly for buying now.

Thanks, and please be kind...
As long as you understand the concept of the manual transmission, you'll be fine. Meaning, understand the limitations of what the car can predict when it is working the clutch. If not, you'll hate the DCT and there are plenty of threads on why people hate it.
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      06-25-2009, 08:35 AM   #4
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1: Yes, if you can drive an automatic this will work for you too without any issue.

2: I do not know.

But one thing you should do before committing to the car is to test if you can live with the lag issue.
Check the various threads on this forum for an explanation on the “LAG”.
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      06-25-2009, 08:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveW25561 View Post
1. My wife & I have only ever driven automatic cars (yes, yes, let the flames begin) so we'd need the DCT transmission. Is there anything someone who hasn't driven manual cars needs to know re: using the DCT transmission? Is it as simple as start and go and functionally the SAME as a normal automatic?
The experience car be much the same as driving an automatic. However there are some differences and there are more features that allow for a much richer driving experience. Off the top of my head:

- It has both an automatic mode and a manual shift mode, with the latter including steering wheel mounted shift paddles. These features are shared with many modern automatic transmissions of course, but a class automatic does not include them so I figure they are worth mentioning.

- Drivelogic. Five different auto modes (and 6 manual modes, too) that vary the aggresiveness of the transmission - both the RPM and "snapiness" of the shift.

- Does not "creep" forward by default if you remove your foot from the gas after coming to a complete stop. Instead, you must tap the gas to get it to start moving forward at idle speed.

- Console shifter is not "gated" like a classic automatic. In other words, you don't physically move the shifter to a different position to select a different gear. Instead it is just a glorified switch that moves left and right to change the mode from automatic to manual or to engage neutral, and moves fore and aft to select a gear. The acception to this is the reverse gear, which does get its own unique shift position. Some modern automatics operate this way as well (such as BMWs own Steptronic).

- No ability to shift into "park". Instead the car just goes into park automatically when you shut off the engine. So if you stop for an extended time in traffic or for a train or whatever, and wish to leave the engine on, you would likely shift to neutral and engage the parking brake like you would in a car with a manual transmission.

-Launch control. To execute an optimal launch you can use this feature. There is no way to rev the motor while in neutal and slam the car into gear like you might do in a car with automatic transmission.

There are probably others but those are the ones that come to mind right now.
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      06-25-2009, 08:48 AM   #6
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If you order, consider Performance Center Delivery. You and your wife will receive a morning of instruction in the DCT cars. My wife can drive six-speed, but normally drive auto and she didn't even realize that the car could be shift manually. OTOH, I got in the car and was shifting up a storm in no time.

Ask for specific instruction on using the DCT in its manual mode. There's a shift light and tach, so with just a little instruction you'll "get" the DCT's manual mode, even though you're under no obligation to use it in your daily driving.

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      06-25-2009, 09:25 AM   #7
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I think the car will work, but without knowing how to use a MT, the principles behind it (when to shift, what gear is best to be in) you can't enjoy the the car fully because you won't be able to enjoy "Manual" (referred to BMW as "sport" ) mode as much.

I'm going to get flamed but if you just plan on putting her in "Drive" and letting it shift for you all the time perhaps an //M isn't the best choice for you? May I ask why not a 335i vert or a 650i vert? I'm not flaming just trying to figure out whether there might be a car you are happier with? This is not a putz around town and every now and then floor it type of car, it just won't be satisfying unless you are driving her to redline more often. I know, I am going from a 335i coupe to a //M coupe and driving the two is like night and day and it sounds like the 335i might be more suited for your needs....that is all.

Either way, good luck and welcome

Cheers,
e46e92
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Last edited by e46e92love; 06-25-2009 at 12:42 PM.
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      06-25-2009, 09:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46e92love View Post
I think the car will work, but without knowing how to use a MT, the principles behind it (when to shift, what gear is best to be in) you can't enjoy the the car fully because you won't be able to enjoy "Manual" (referred to BMW as "sport" ) mode as much.

I'm going to get flamed but if you just plan on putting her in "Drive" and letting it shift for you all the time perhaps an //M isn't the best choice for you? May I ask why not a 335i vert or a 650i vert? I'm not flaming just trying to figure out whether there might be a car you are happier with? This is not a puts around town and every now and then floor it type of car, it just won't be satisfying unless you are driving her to redline more often. I know, I am going from a 335i coupe to a //M coupe and driving the two is like night and day and it sounds like the 335i might be more suited for your needs....that is all.

Either way, god luck and welcome

Cheers,
e46e92
I'll disagree here. D5 is pretty aggressive, and even though the car is shifting for you, I don't find it any less satisfying. I prefer S5 when I really want to go, but there's nothing wrong with putting it in "Drive" 5.

My wife has never driven a manual. I tried to teach her and she just told me she was happy with her automatic. When I stuck her in the M3, told her how and when to shift ("Just watch the little lights...when they go all the way to the right, shift!") she was hooked. The only issue is downshifting coming to a stop. For that, you'll need a lot of practice, or the car will downshift for you which may not always put you in the gear you want.

So, all in all, if you like the car, enjoy the car, etc..., don't let the fact you've never driven a manual deter you. I would, however, suggest taking a few test drives. The DCT has a unique feel compared to traditional automatics. You may not like it.
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      06-25-2009, 09:37 AM   #9
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I am a 30+ MT driver and my M3 DCT is my first automated MT I owned. I've owned an S4 and a Porsche and they were all MT. Even with this infamous DCT Lag issue, I am still very satisfied with this added DCT option. I don't consider it a problem because I can work around it by just using it in manual mode. For people who never driven an MT car before will have no problem driving a DCT car. Just put the car in D mode and drive it like a normal auto but with some minor change. The car will not move after a dead stop when you let go of your brake pedal not unless you step on the accel pedal.
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      06-25-2009, 09:42 AM   #10
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See? No hatin! If you had said something like, "I don't drive manual...because its for peasants..." we might have had a problem!
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      06-25-2009, 10:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
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I'm going to get flamed but if you just plan on putting her in "Drive" and letting it shift for you all the time perhaps an //M isn't the best choice for you? May I ask why not a 335i vert or a 650i vert? I'm not flaming just trying to figure out whether there might be a car you are happier with?
I don't think that deserves a flame; its a fair question. But I will say that I would never recommend paying the higher price of 650i for what I consider less car, especially the lack of the folding hard top which is a great feature of the 3 series and M3. And while the 335i is great, you definitely don't get the great V8 engine note and that's particularly going to be missed in the open top vert. There are of course the obvious performance differences between those two and the M3 also. And while I agree that, for a leisure car - if that was all the OP really wants - those are not necessarily a big factor. But a big part of the M3s draw, I think, is its ability to feel relaxed and easy to drive around town when you want it to be, and also to become a monster when you really want to have some fun. Even if you only get to do the latter once and a while, its great to be able to open it up when you do.
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      06-25-2009, 11:01 AM   #12
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One other thing you may want to be aware of is that it may be a bit more difficult to park in a garage at first. Since this car doesn't creep forward automatically when releasing the break, you have to tap the accelerator a bit to get it going. Once it starts moving, it can start moving fairly quickly. When trying to creep forward into the garage it tends to creep forward a little too fast for my taste, so you need to keep a little brake pressure applied as well. However, since the brakes grip pretty well it sometimes grips too much and comes to a complete stop, which puts the car back into neutral. Then you have to tap the accelerator to get it moving again. You will probably be going back and forth between the accelerator and brake until you get used to things. It's a bit annoying, especially when you are trying to creep very slowly and not trying to hit the end of the garage wall.
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      06-25-2009, 11:29 AM   #13
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However, since the brakes grip pretty well it sometimes grips too much and comes to a complete stop, which puts the car back into neutral. Then you have to tap the accelerator to get it moving again.
Forgive me for the tiny nitpick. The car doesn't actually go into neutral when it comes to a stop, it instead stays in gear with the clutch disengaged. If it went into neutral, you'd see "N" on the dash and wouldn't be able to move again until you put it back in gear.
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      06-25-2009, 12:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkoesel View Post
Forgive me for the tiny nitpick. The car doesn't actually go into neutral when it comes to a stop, it instead stays in gear with the clutch disengaged. If it went into neutral, you'd see "N" on the dash and wouldn't be able to move again until you put it back in gear.
Exactly, all the car is doing is engaging the clutch, leading to the same affect of a MT that you have put into first but you keep hitting the gas without letting the clutch out enough so all that happens is the rpms go up.

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e46e92
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      06-25-2009, 12:49 PM   #15
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Forgive me for the tiny nitpick. The car doesn't actually go into neutral when it comes to a stop, it instead stays in gear with the clutch disengaged. If it went into neutral, you'd see "N" on the dash and wouldn't be able to move again until you put it back in gear.
You are forgiven for the nitpick
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      06-25-2009, 01:47 PM   #16
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-Launch control. To execute an optimal launch you can use this feature. There is no way to rev the motor while in neutal and slam the car into gear like you might do in a car with automatic transmission.
You can however turn DSC (traction control) off and then put the setting to either S5 or S6, be at a complete standstill and slam on the gas... this will rev to 5K rpm or so and drop the clutch for you. Wheels a spinning...
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      06-25-2009, 02:29 PM   #17
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I don't drive DCT, but I'm fairly certain you still need to remember to pull the handbrake when parking the car.
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      06-25-2009, 03:21 PM   #18
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I don't drive DCT, but I'm fairly certain you still need to remember to pull the handbrake when parking the car.
Pulling the handbrake is not necessary. It will go into "P" park mode as soon as you turn the car off. I think the park mode engages a transmission lock. I would still recommend pulling the handbrake if you are on an incline.
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      06-25-2009, 04:50 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by e46e92love View Post
I think the car will work, but without knowing how to use a MT, the principles behind it (when to shift, what gear is best to be in) you can't enjoy the the car fully because you won't be able to enjoy "Manual" (referred to BMW as "sport" ) mode as much.

I'm going to get flamed but if you just plan on putting her in "Drive" and letting it shift for you all the time perhaps an //M isn't the best choice for you? May I ask why not a 335i vert or a 650i vert? I'm not flaming just trying to figure out whether there might be a car you are happier with? This is not a putz around town and every now and then floor it type of car, it just won't be satisfying unless you are driving her to redline more often. I know, I am going from a 335i coupe to a //M coupe and driving the two is like night and day and it sounds like the 335i might be more suited for your needs....that is all.

Either way, good luck and welcome

Cheers,
e46e92
I have to agree with this. Do yourself a favor and learn to drive a manual transmission car. Perhaps it is flawed thinking, but IMHO a driver who isn't able to operate a manual probably isn't much of a skilled high performance driver and probably doesn't belong in an M3. If you aspire to be a better driver and use a car like this to its capability, attend a high performance driving course or two and learn to drive a manual. The M school seems well received.
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      06-25-2009, 05:58 PM   #20
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I have to agree with this. Do yourself a favor and learn to drive a manual transmission car. Perhaps it is flawed thinking, but IMHO a driver who isn't able to operate a manual probably isn't much of a skilled high performance driver and probably doesn't belong in an M3. If you aspire to be a better driver and use a car like this to its capability, attend a high performance driving course or two and learn to drive a manual. The M school seems well received.
I think this is an extreme approach. The OP wants an E93. If one is really concerned with high performance driving (best enjoyed at a track), then they would not consider the E93 to begin with.

Also M-DCT is perfect for people with no experience with MT. You start out using D. You get bored. Then you try S and slowly you learn. Automatic clutch operation and safeguards let you concentrate on getting your shifts points right.

If you haven't driven MT before and want an M3 you should still get it. It is going to be serious fun if the intention is to learn to drive a high performance car like this. The DCT is the best way to teach you shifting because unlike other automatics it is actually fun in manual mode. The M3 driving experience is not exclusively for people who have been shifting MT all their lives.
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      06-25-2009, 06:03 PM   #21
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If you aspire to be a better driver and use a car like this to its capability, attend a high performance driving course or two and learn to drive a manual. The M school seems well received.
I thought the M schools, offered by BMW, only use DCT and SMG cars these days. No?
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      06-25-2009, 06:36 PM   #22
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Pulling the handbrake is not necessary. It will go into "P" park mode as soon as you turn the car off. I think the park mode engages a transmission lock. I would still recommend pulling the handbrake if you are on an incline.
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