By on November 28, 2007

car_photo_230688_7.jpgRumors of BMW's Lexus-rivaling eight-speed automatic transmission surfaced over a year ago. Since then, the electronic grapevines have been quiet, leading some to suspect the octo-cog-swapper was merely vaporware. But rest assured, it's the real deal; it's in testing now. The blokes over at AutoExpress [UK] snagged some serious seat time in BMW's upcoming X6. The German automaker's crossover coupe thingamajig does, in fact, feature an eight gear slushbox. It's not totally clear why BMW is developing both this eight-speed auto AND a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (soon to be slotted into the new M3), especially when the DSG transmission has "wave of the future" written all over it. Still, we'll never complain about more choice in transmissions. Or gears. But it's strange to think of downshifting into seventh.

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13 Comments on “BMW’s New Slushbox: Eight is Enough...”

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    As with other BMW installed automatic transmissions, will this eight speed be supplied by General Motors’ Hydra-Matic division?

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t be surprised. GM has been working on an 8-speed transmission themselves, though updates have been scarce. You can’t really get much better than GM’s automatics, that’s one thing they’re very good at.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Just before you purchase one, walk over to the service department and get a quotation for a rebuild or exchange for the 8 speed transmission. There’s a reason why chairs are always available for customers in those departments.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Johnny Canada:

    People own BMWs out of warranty?

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @Austin Greene
    As with other BMW-installed transmissions, this one will be made by ZF. BMW doesn’t use the GM units in any current model.

  • avatar

    What for? I have an 01 740i with only a 5-speed and 1 gear (the third) is already superfluous when accelerating as it barely stays on for a moment before it upshifts. It’s an unsettling experience. I actually thought there was something wrong with the transmission.

  • avatar

    Modern gas engines have such broad power bands it seems superfulous to have that many gears.
    Diesel engines, however, have a much more limited rev range and will probably benefit from a couple of extra ratios.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Mirko Reinhardt: BMW doesn’t use the GM units in any current model.
    Perhaps you know of changes made for the 2008 model year, but Wikipedia says that the 2007 BMW X3 3.0, BMW X5 3.0, and BMW 328 coupe all use General Motors’ 6L50 transmission.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of what happened to bikes. Growing up, 10 speeds were king… then came 12 speeds, and now aren’t we up to 21 speeds? Yet its the material the bike is made of that’s much more important.

    Also, this is similar to digital cameras. The manufacturers have pounded into our heads that more megapixels = better camera, yet I’ll take a 6mp camera with a great lens any day over a 11mp Samsung.

  • avatar

    People own BMWs out of warranty?

    Um… YA

  • avatar

    jkross22: we’re up to 27 speeds on mountain bikes and 30 on touring bikes. i like lots of gears because my legs have a narrow power band. i can’t see modern cars needing a whole bunch of gears with the engines we’ve got today. V8s and 4-speeds would be fine.

    if you have a 6 liter V8, you can get a pretty flat 350ish ftlb torque plateau. if you made 2 liter V8s, would you get a 120ish ftlb *flat* torque curve? are small engines always peaky, or is that just a function of 4-cyl engines?

  • avatar

    Why? What happened to CVT’s?

  • avatar


    The only BMWs owned are out of warranty. All those still under warranty are of the long-term rent variety.

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