By on October 11, 2012

We haven’t had the chance to thrash the newest M5 around a racetrack yet, but Autoblog has been granted the privilege of running “nine-tenths” around both the Ascari course (in the DCT) and Laguna Seca (in the new six-speed manual variant). What do they have to say for themselves?

In his article on the new six-speed manual M5 — a variant that, like the six-speed manual E60 M5 before it, is exclusively supplied to the North American market as a concession to the BMWCCA Club Race crowd — Michael Harley is not enthusiastic about the “enthusiast” M5.

we were very involved as all four of our limbs were tasked with an individual role. The 6MT required us to become an integral part of the car – both microprocessor and hydraulic actuator – and our attention had to be diverted from the apex and exit markers to get the shifts just right. We were plenty quick in the 6MT (thankfully, gobs of torque allowed the M5 to run most of the track in third gear), but we lost precious time on a few shifts and had to really concentrate on nailing the downshift into second gear at Turn 11. It was also much more nerve racking flying one-handed through Turn One at 100-plus mph…

While there is nothing physically wrong with the manual box, rowing one’s own gears is based on a technology that peaked in the mid-1990s (think Acura NSX, Mazda MX-5 Miata or Honda S2000), and it really isn’t going to get any better…

the M5′s 6MT is a Frankensteinian adaptation to the platform incapable of handling the same stress as its dual-clutch sibling – that’s a fact…

While our enthusiast-rich blood craves involvement, in this particular situation, it became painfully clear that the computer-controlled 7DCT is the M5′s better transmission.

The guy writes like he’s Seb Vettel adjusting the fuel map in the middle of 130R or something while holding Lewis Hamilton exactly 1.2 seconds behind him to simultaneously conserve his tires and preserve the DRS distance. Is it really that difficult to drive a manual-transmission vehicle around a mostly empty racetrack? What would happen if the M5 had a regular old Blaupunkt FM radio with a knob?

we were very involved as each finger was tasked with individual control of the knob surface. The FM radio required us to become an integral part of the car — both frequency-locking quartz crystal and amplitude/quality evaluation microprocessors. It was nerve-racking trying to dial in the perfect sound for Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” while at the same time inching forward in traffic.

Mr. Harley seems surprised and hugely impressed by the fact that the DCT gets around the racetrack quicker. He shouldn’t be. That’s been true of automanual transmissions more or less since the F355 F1 first made its way into the nightmares of Ferrari mechanics. He does, however, condescend to recommend something for the throwbacks who can’t stand to have a computer changing gear: they should go buy an E39 M5 with a stick-shift.

For better or worse, Mr. Harley’s autojourno privilege is on stark display here. Many prospective M5 buyers don’t want the choice of a clutch and stick for lap time, on-road pleasure, or even enthusiast credential at the Cars and Coffee. They want it because even after fifteen or so years of automated non-epicyclic transmissions, the technology is still fragile, difficult, expensive to repair, and resale poison everywhere the buyer has a choice. The people who are considering dropping $90K on these cars aren’t all lease-and-dump trustafarians looking to make a splash in the campus parking lot. Many of them are long-time BMW fans who keep their cars a long time. The pages of Roundel are filled with one-owner M cars from the Nineties, and they are also filled with llistings for SMG or DCT-equipped M cars selling for a considerable discount from their stick-shift kin.

Your humble author was a CCA member from 2001, when he got his first new Bimmer, to 2011, when he completely gave up on the brand. During that time, I came to know the mindset of M-car purchasers. Many of them look at automanuals as expensive transmission replacements waiting to happen. They don’t care about lap time — the ones who do care are running hopped-up E36es with numbers on the door. They want a durable, exciting sedan that makes them feel like an Autobahn dominator while they commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic. They want that car to last, they want to be able to enjoy it the whole time, and they want to get real money for it when they sell.

For those reasons and many others, BMW’s decision to bring the “throwback” transmission to us here in the States is a genuine, and useful, nod to the company’s emotional core. Mr. Harley is correct — at the awesome track velocities he and his compatriots achieve, the manual falls down. In the real world, however, it stands tall.

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57 Comments on “Autoblog Finds The New M5 6MT To Be Quite Unsatisfying At Nine-Tenths...”


  • avatar
    Opus

    Obligatory “Did it understeer at the limit?”

    • 0 avatar
      mattfarah

      Funny you mentioned this. I had the privilege of attending the Motor Press Guild’s track day yesterday, which, for a journo, is simply the best day ever. 50 cars, one open race track, unlimited sessions for 2 whole days. I got at least ten 10/10ths laps in no fewer than 30 different cars, one of which was the (DCT-equipped) M5.

      With all the nannies turned off, and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you turn them off, the M5 is happy to oversteer at will, and, despite its size and weight, is actually pretty fun to drive on a track. It’s balanced, has brakes worthy of the M badge, and fast as all hell in a straight line. Unlike the AMG cars and Jaguar “R” models on hand, it never required “resting time,” which is PR speak for “The car/transmission/diff has overheated because it’s really not as track-bred as the commercials would like you to believe.” It went out session after session for 2 days straight and never skipped a beat.

      Where am I going with this? I overheard no fewer than three other journalists, two of them wearing name badges reading “Editor” say out loud that the M5 “understeers like a pig” while looking around for nods of approval. I laughed at how full of shit they were.

      I’m no Michael Schumacher, but I can get around a race track without incurring the wrath of Baruth and the M5 does not, when driven properly, understeer at the limit.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        doesn’t surprise me, I’ve driven with some of these “experts” they make good faux drag racers.. give them a corner and they don’t have a clue what to do.

        I’ve been in the car with some of them, instead of following the car in front they just aim at the cars quarter panel and then wonder why they couldn’t make the turn the other car did.

        apex, and racing line are foreign concepts to these guys in practice.. they talk good, but thats about it

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The transmission is about the only thing paying homage to BMW’s past. This thing is far closer to a 7 series than it is even to the E60, let alone the granddaddy E28-E39s. 4400lb sport sedan? Laughable

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      True, a light performance sedan these days weighs in around 3-3500 lbs. This includes Porsche, Subie WRX’s, EVO’s and everyone else. It’s not a BMW problem, if they are going to sell a luxury performance car these days it will weigh-in accordingly.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “…a genuine, and useful, nod to the company’s emotional core”

    Savor it. BMW doesn’t nod like that often anymore!

    The 2022 M5 probably won’t even let you STEER it.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      Now there is a scary thought. I can see the day coming when we get steering-by-wire. The wheel will just be there to take hints from what the driver wants to do, with a computer making the actual decisions. With cruise control on, you only need to switch on the indicators and the car will make the turn for you! Of course, none of this high-tech will be repairable and you will be forced to get a complete new car at regular intervals.

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    “They want it because even after fifteen or so years of automated non-epicyclic transmissions, the technology is still fragile, difficult, expensive to repair, and resale poison everywhere the buyer has a choice.’

    This sums it up perfectly. Cars last beyond the 6 year 100,000 mile certified pre-owned warranty period. Savvy buyers of used cars are well aware of ticking time bombs like computer controled clutch gearboxes. Automakers should be scared of the possibility of less savvy non-enthusiasts realizing the same thing. When Joe Sixpack doesn’t want to pay for this crap in the secondary market, resale drops, lease rates skyrocket, and the automakers will suffer.

    I know that retro grouches like me screamed that the sky was falling in the 80s when EFI was gaining ground in the US. Instead, I think that all the current electronic crap that is either unfixable by indie mechanics or financially unjustifiable in a 150k mile car is the real stuff worth worrying aboout. Flat panel LCDs, touch screens, fiber optic networks, and SMGs with electro-hydraulic black magic inside will quickly reduce the used value of a 150k mile car with some bugs to LeMons fodder or Chinese shipping container scrap pricing.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      As those high feature options become ever more popular and commonplace, you’ll see the aftermarket embrace servicing them. Just like EFI. It’s the goofy one-offs that really crater the resale due to no support.

      Investing in future automotive repair options should really include heavy emphasis on electronics repair.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You know what? He’s right about the E39. Even Consumer Reports still considers it the best car tested.

    That said, and it’s been a while, but I think the stick shift in that car wasn’t the best, either.

  • avatar
    dan1malk

    “Hey everyone, that guy over there has an opinion.

    Let me tell you how I’m right and he’s wrong.”

    -Jack Baruth.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Isn’t that blogging in a nutshell?

      I thought it was a well organized argument based on real experience, sans the over-the-top venom Jack often likes to mix in. The more opinions the better.

      Besides, the paragraph about the radio knob was pretty damn funny.

      • 0 avatar
        dan1malk

        I suppose. I guess he just lost me in the first line:

        “We haven’t driven the car, but…”

        Then continues to tell us why his opinion is more accurate than someone who actually has.

    • 0 avatar
      rwb

      The article states that the 6MT is slower around a racetrack, and that shifting a manual transmission is too complicated.

      The former is not really opinion, and should not surprise anyone who reads about such things, never mind someone who writes for a large automotive media outlet and has driven plenty of performance cars.

      The second point, which is definitely an opinion, is irrelevant to anyone who drives a car normally, and frankly, is an inane thing to say.

  • avatar

    “Many prospective M5 buyers don’t want the choice of a clutch and stick for lap time, on-road pleasure, or even enthusiast credential at the Cars and Coffee. They want it because even after fifteen or so years of automated non-epicyclic transmissions, the technology is still fragile, difficult, expensive to repair, and resale poison everywhere the buyer has a choice.”

    Damned right. Preach it, Jack. I’m under no illusions that it’s likely to be heard where it matters, but this still needs to be said loudly, over and over.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    A manual is not about fast, it’s about fun.

    And this journalist obviously doesn’t know the difference. I know it’s not the same, but I’d like to see this guy in a car that doesn’t have copious amounts of torque, say a S2000 where you are required to shift frequently to have any semblance of go.

    I’ve only done one track day, but the most fun I had was at the end of the Summit Point main straight, threshold braking from 120 to 60 while heel-toeing before I dive towards the far side of the turn 1 towards the back side of the apex. Would a flappy paddle box be faster, and let me modulate my brakes better? Sure. But it wouldn’t be as fun.

    Also, this is just something I learned while *learning* to drive stick: If you’re not confident enough in your abilities to shift while turning… don’t! An autojourno writing “It was also much more nerve racking flying one-handed through Turn One at 100-plus mph…” just shows their limitations as a driver and decisionmaker.

    And I find it laughable to call the DCT better. Faster? Absolutely. But better is in the eyes of the driver.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    One fundamental fact about computer-controlled sequential gearboxes that is often overlooked is that they’re purely market-driven gimmicks. When people justify them by pointing at F1 use and laptimes, they expose their ignorance of the F1 rules. F1 teams would all use CVTs if they were allowed by the rules. They only use sequential gearboxes with finite ratios because they are banned from using something more efficient, simpler, and with a greater ratio spread. The only reason for putting them in road cars is so people can pretend they have some connection with racing drivers who only use them because they have to.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      That’s an interesting point… given that the CVT is certainly the transmission of the future, for purposes of technological relevance it should be written back into the rules.

      It would be odd to hear the cars run at full revs ALL THE TIME. Presumably the transmissions themselves would be hellishly loud, given all they’d have to cope with.

      • 0 avatar
        jglucker

        Former spec boxster owner… maybe he DID get tired of it?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        CVTs in F1 would invite all sorts of interesting optimizations. Engines could be optimized for specific engine speeds where they run unthrottled at their torque peak, promoting maximum fuel efficiency for the work done. Aerodynamics could reliably utilize exhaust gases for downforce and/or to reduce drag, as flow would be the same in low speed corners as in fast ones. Engine reliability and durability would likely be easier to achieve and engine wear may norm from circuit to circuit. It would be interesting and promote advancements in engine management, but F1 would rather promote marketing gimmicks.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Jack…

        I agree with “CJinSD” about over-glorification of SMG-type transmissions (especially for regular car use: even Pagani fell prone to that pathways in the Huayra), but CVT may not be the solution for F1 racing. Heating, wear, and durability are the issues.

        Ordinary manuals can take the beating, but they do force divided attention, and are difficult to operate quickly in high-speed cornering, even with the best “heal&toe” techniques. And in F1, milliseconds do add up….

        ———

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        When Williams built and tested their F1 CVT, the transmissions only had to last about 250 miles. Today, they need to last about 1,500 miles. Durability issues could have been overcome by an F1 team, since that is about a hundredth as long as the design life of the worst of today’s production CVTs, some of which are now dealing with more torque than an F1 engine produces.

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      I would love to hear more about this, are there any articles on the subject or other commentary you’re aware of?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3UpBKXMRto – Video of Williams testing their FW15C CVT.

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2007/05/03/banned-continuously-variable-transmission-cvt/ – Article documenting the rule change that specifically banned CVTs back in 1994, along with speculation that the Williams CVT was seconds a lap faster than a sequential gearbox.

        It is worth noting that paddles are also a joke. F1 cars got them because the rules banned automated shifting. Until then, the computers picked the shift points and called up multiratio downshifts.

      • 0 avatar
        rodface

        CJinSD, thank you. Something always felt wrong about the flappy paddles. It’s good to be able to drop to a lower gear at the touch of a button, but that’s about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      I’ve heard a lot of annoying automotive trends are the result of racing, specifically F1 racing, rules and the attempts to cash-in on Formula-1 ‘trends’.

      Things like V-10 engines, they sacrifice the mechanical simplicity of a V-8 for the top-end horsepower of a V-12 without the smoothness while trying to maintain torque. Why? Because F-1 displacement rules forbid them from just using larger V-8s.

      Then there is the tuning. Engine size restrictions mean the only way to increase power is to increase revs, and to optimize for racing the power-band is shoved up into the top-end. The result, buzzy engines that need to be constantly on the boil because ‘it’s like Formula One’ and Clarkson being amazed and astounded that he can perform an effortless 4th-gear standing start in a Corvette (which has been a staple feature of Corvettes since the first ‘Rat-Motor’ was dropped into a Stingray.)

      Blargh-Blargh, Ramble-Ramble, No I don’t actually know what I’m talking about, but it feels good to rant. ^.^

  • avatar
    mikey

    ” A manual is not about fast, its about fun”

    Agreed I learned to drive on 3 speed, three on tree. I just recently bought my first manual in 40 years.

    I love it. The stick puts the fun back into driving.

  • avatar
    jglucker

    I’m going to disagree with you on this one Jack. (disclaimer: Harley is a friend)

    It seems that every time I meet the owner of the latest M machine, they’re not the well-to-do enthusiast who is fortunate enough to spend money on a wildly competent machine. Instead, it’s a look-at-what-I-can-afford jackhole who doesn’t even know what DSC means … nevermind figuring out how to turn it off (which is probably a blessing). Granted, I live in jackholeville, USA aka Orange County, CA so the odds might be skewed against me here.

    Additionally, Harley is a voice I trust when it comes to reviewing a performance machine. He recently sold his Spec Boxster, still holds on to his gorgeous 930, and is a licensed Porsche driving instructor. He loves manual gearboxes.

    Also, his criticism of the gearbox choices found in the new M5 aren’t the only ones I’ve been hearing. It seems many others are finding the manual far inferior to the dual clutch unit. Now I, being raised in the church of manual like many an enthusiast, would probably still pick the manual were I in the market for the new M5. Because, like others have said, it’s more fun and I’m not after lap times… but driving engagement and enjoyment on my favorite roads.

    Still… I know I’d lose the stoplight to stoplight battle by a few ticks to the guy who pulls up next to me with his paddle-shifted M5.

    Hell… let’s be real honest, I’d take the M5 money and buy the Jag XKR-S instead. If I could afford either, I’d have some sort of manual-equipped machine in the garage right beside it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Like you said, you live in California. :)

      To be precise about it, I believe Mr. Harley owned a BSX, which was the Time Trial/Driver’s Ed version of the car.

      With that said, I would dearly love to own a 930. A fellow I used to have as a business partner had an Andial-tuned slantnose that was just plain wicked. Nothing but love for the air-cooled crew, as you know.

      • 0 avatar
        jglucker

        Of course.

        Also, I actually drove the new M5 (DCT equipped) yesterday, on track.

        …and I didn’t feel like wading through the menu to turn of DSC (everything else was in Sport+).

        Fun car for sure, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Would a manual have changed that? Possibly.

        I *did* fall in love with the Boss 302 though. Holy hell is that thing awesome… I like it better than the ZL1 Camaro, even though I was the only one who felt that way.

  • avatar
    th009

    “For those reasons and many others, BMW’s decision to bring the “throwback” transmission to us here in the States is a genuine, and useful, nod to the company’s emotional core.”

    For those same reasons, Audi offers the 6MT option on the new S4 and S5 in North America even though the European versions are S Tronic only.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      This does make me wonder why US buyers are so different from Euro buyers in this S Tronic vs. manual and DCT vs. manual question. I know that Euro buyers are more concerned about gas mileage, but anyone in Europe buying an S4, S5, M5, or M3 couldn’t be that concerned about petrol consumption. Many A4s/A5s, 3-series, and 5-series vehicles sold in Europe have much smaller engines than those sold here in the states, and are of course more likely to be estates, rather than saloons, and the S and M lines cost significantly more in Europe than here.

      Is it really the case that more American buyers are likely to track an M3, M5, S4, S5, etc. than a European buyer? Is it because there are fewer tracks open to people, or perhaps because the existence of the autobahn and similar roads reduces the desire to track? Does it have something to do with the used market? Is it because these cars are so damn expensive in Europe, that people who can afford them don’t want the hassle of a conventional manual?

      Honestly, I would have thought Europeans were more concerned about durability and things like that than Americans, since I see many American buyers of this type of car as lease-and-dump types.

      My next car that’s not a family hauler will probably be an Audi S or RS that I keep forever, but even though I’d be able to afford a new one and its upkeep, I will likely buy used.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Just a general observation but it seems europeans seem to embrace new automotive technologies more readily compared to drivers in the states where it seems “tried and true as long as it gets results” is the order of the day.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Europe tends to have more/bigger fans of Formula-One racing, and automated-manuals are ‘F1-inspired’ technology.

        And less track-days? I didn’t even know Track-Days were a Thing until I started watching Top Gear, and didn’t know they were a thing here in the US until I started reading TTAC (Which I never would have done had I not been inspired to get passionate about cars from watching Top Gear).

        And isn’t the refrain from the OP about how automated-manuals are better for track-days than stick-shifts but stick-shifts are more durable and more ‘fun’ for day-to-day driving enthusiasts? If so, how does the lack of a stick-shift manual in Europe equate to less track-day enthusiasm in Europe?

  • avatar
    rushn

    So to address someone’s concern about the driving quality of the manual transmission in the new uber-sedan from BWM, Jack does a little misdirection and talks about what he thinks the drivers want, throws a few jabs in and… never actually addresses the point being made. That’s a silly parlor trick but really did not add much to the story on the car.

  • avatar

    Your thesis that M-buyers are concerned about the lifespan of their transmissions is odd to me. Mostly because that’s how I think, too, but generally assume I’m a weirdo and representative of no one.

    It’s a logically intact opinion (but of course I’d say that), I’m curious if the numbers would actually back it up.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Agree with mad_science. I’d be surprised if the numbers actually back up the opinion here except among the BMWCCA group, which is a limited subset of M-buyers. As has been discussed in other threads ( http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/new-or-used-400-horsepower-edition/ ), a lot of new M5 buyers are lease-and-dumpers, as are many new M3 buyers (and some of those are hoon-and-dumpers as 2nd, 3rd, and 4th buyers because they can’t afford upkeep and insurance), and these cars are quite expensive to upkeep regardless of whether you have the DCT or not. Most of the enthusiasts I know don’t have new M5s/M3s and aren’t the original owner of the one they have, so DCT vs. conventional manual is often a moot point. But then again, I live in California where we have tons of these cars, relatively speaking, and I see them all the time and know several owners of them, so apparently my opinion doesn’t count according to Mr. Baruth.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Samuel Johnson once wrote, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

      London is not the world; neither is California.

      Vehicles have different buyers and different usage patterns depending on where you are. That’s true for pickup trucks and M5s alike.

      Your experiences are valid, but if you made product planning decisions for BMW based on those experiences you might be surprised at the consequences.

      The same would be true for me; if I determined the product lineup for the Ford F-150 based on what I see in the rural communities north of me, the Californian buyers would be extremely frustrated at the inability to get leather seats :)

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Obviously, BMW has to look at overall American sales when determining what product to bring out and the economics of the deal. But you must admit that a disproportionately large percentage of sales of M-vehicles are in California, so it’s not like this is an unimportant or irrelevant market. Also, my sample size is much larger than most people who aren’t in California and who aren’t autojournalists.

        That said, sure, I acknowledge stuff is different here, particularly in the big cities, but you honestly don’t know much about California if you don’t think there are rural areas of California who have the same sensibilities on F-150s (or F-250s for that matter). If you go over Altamont or the Grapevine (depending on which megalopolis you are stereotyping), suddenly the Toyobaru territory turns into lifted pickup territory, and all you see are farms.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I’ve raced at most of the California tracks so I’ve seen plenty of California rural communities. I’m always impressed at how many compact Toyotas are still around, running, and well-looked-after.

        Re: your comment about the Europeans above. My take on that, based on my (self-funded, sadly) trips to Europe are that people tend to own “less car” there for their income level.

        What I’m getting at: I had a student recently with a brand-new six-speed M3. Cost of the car was $70K. He maybe earned $100K a year or less but the car was important to him so he was willing to throw a fifth of his post-taxes income at running the thing. His European counterpart drives a 318i or a Golf GTI. The guy with the M3 in Europe earns much more and is much less likely to keep the car.

        I was surprised at how young the fleet in is Germany, at least until you cross what used to be the border. You’ll see more air-cooled 911s in an afternoon hanging around Haight-Ashbury than you will in a week-long tour of Germany. Same goes for stuff like the hallowed E39 M5.

        And yes, Americans track their cars far more often than Europeans do. The costs are much lower here. For $500 you can run a track like VIR all weekend, including fuel. That same amount will get you two hours on the ‘Ring including fuel and it won’t get you anywhere near a trackday on the major European circuits.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Jack, Oklahoma is very much the same on the old Toyota truck front.

        Tons and tons and tons of compact pickups out here, some looking a little faded but otherwise good, some looking totally clapped-out but still mechanically all tip-top, even a scrap-yard relic is just as likely to be dragged off to a garage and put into drivable condition as a farm-and-ranch workhorse as it is to be picked for parts. All sorts, Ford Rangers, Chevy S-10s, The afor-mentioned Toyotas.. but also Mitsubishis, Mazdas, Isuzus, all manner of compact trucks from manufacturers who got out of the game long ago.

        Which is why the current trend to push everything smaller than a ‘Half-ton’ (I use quotes because my grandfather’s brand new F-150 is actually Bigger than his ten-year-old Silverado HD) into extinction frustrates me no end. And a hearty obscene gesture to all who claim that compact pick-ups are useless and worthless and we’ll be better for seeing the back of them.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I didn’t know that the track costs were so different — thanks for the info.

      Agree on the California compact Toyotas. One of my neighbors has a pristine early 80s Tercel of the same generation my family used to have. There are older Hondas sometimes too, but fewer. I’m pretty sure a local Honda dealership bought the pristine tiny 70s Honda in their showroom from one of my neighbors.

      Your student’s demographic (but not his track desire) is what I’m getting at, no offense. That was what I was suggesting above as well. You are correct that American buyers are probably much more likely to have a lower income to car price ratio (and BMW forums also show that this is the case, often). I’m reminded of this old, but likely still pertinent, chart:

      http://www.csparks.com/bmw/CarPriceVsIncome.xhtml

      What surprises me a little bit about your comment about the fleet in Europe being younger is that it seems easy in Europe to get older cars that would almost certainly be in a junkyard here. For example, that Audi V8 that was featured on TTAC — there are not that many available here, but there are tons available in Germany, even though it was still a relatively rare car there because it was so big and fuel-thirsty. I wonder if this is a result of better mechanical inspections that are required there. I also wonder if these older well-maintained cars are more likely to end up on the other side of the former Iron Curtain where people are a bit poorer — there is essentially captive market for keeping older European autos in DD condition.

      I also suspect Americans are more likely to have more garage space, etc. whereas if you’re European and make a good income, you still might live in cramped-by-American standards housing without the ability to park your extra track car somewhere.

      Btw, regarding your Haight/911 comment (although I passed through there a few weeks ago and didn’t see any), what probably allows cars to age well in California is the climate/lack of salt (at least outside of the Sierras). They are less likely to rust than in colder climates, although Audis in particular are known for being better about rust because of the galvanization. France and Germany are in latitudes that would be considered Rust Belt here, and let’s not even talk about the UK.

      Thanks for responding, btw. I wasn’t trying to be as snarky as it sounds in retrospect.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’ll second Jack’s observation about fleet age in Germany. BUT, it really is mostly Germany. As soon as you cross the border in any direction, you start to see tons of old heaps. Denmark in particular must have FAR more lax safety inspections. The Germans really ARE simply THAT properous on average, they get new cars every 2-3 years, just like Americans used to do back in the day. Of course the fact that a lot of cars are company cars helps too – those get traded in every few years like clockwork.

        I can also say that his take on M car owners is pretty spot on for what I see as an active BMWCCA member here in Maine. They tend to be bought and kept, and are rarely the owner’s daily driver. Judging by the number of California DB 3-series owners on the BMW forums, Corntrollio’s take on California BMW drivers is spot on as well, sadly.

        My BMW is not an M, but I certainly ordered it with the intention of keeping it for a very long time. Thus it is RWD, has a manual transmission, non-moving halogen headlights, no iDrive, and no turbos. Not that I had a choice in that last one, as it is a station wagon, but I still would not have bought a 335i. So far, in one year and 18K miles, the only issue has been with the power drivers seat, which is not something I particularly wanted in the first place, but was effectively free with the other stuff I did want by buying it all in the discounted premium package.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “The Germans really ARE simply THAT properous on average, they get new cars every 2-3 years, just like Americans used to do back in the day. Of course the fact that a lot of cars are company cars helps too – those get traded in every few years like clockwork.”

        I think you hit on it. I have a few friends who work for German companies here in the states, and many of them get Germany company cars that they usually dump when the lease is up. The companies also sometimes have a hierarchy of which German car is best for employees to have.

        Some big companies here in the states used to do this back in the day as a job perk almost always with domestic vehicles. Over the years, if they even still do it, these companies started making this perk less lucrative or non-existent in many cases for people who aren’t executives or traveling salesman-types.

        Back then, they often used to dump the cars around 60K or so, but certainly before 80K. These were purchased by the company, and the employee typically had the option of purchasing the car from the company at residual value, or else I believe it went to auction.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        One thing not accounted for is Mexico used to be a dumping ground for U.S. cars, but has since banned importation of anything but 10 year old used cars. This went into effect sometime in the mid ’90s, but this was also to protect their OEMs and dealers from late model U.S. imports.

        Russia, Africa and the Middle East don’t have such barriers against European used cars while ours are essentially trapped.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    As a long time BMW owner, my rule is if you get one with a manual transmission the entire car will be bomb proof, so far its been working out that way.

  • avatar
    Ltd783

    What?!?!? Another TTAC article with no substance, rather just a critique of another author who actually did something. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. I’m not even going to get into the substance of his argument (like how the Autoblog article does talk about the intangible element of “fun” and they do deem this particular MT to be less fun than the DCT).

    You use the phrase “condescend” to describe his writing, and that is all this article is. Liking mauals does not make you better than anyone, youre not some connoiseur. Get over it. Its a personal preference. Very unprofessional material from TTAC again.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      He made a case for why manual transmissions still make sense if you’re at all concerned about long term ownership of a performance car. I suppose I liked this piece because I agree with all of his points, but he certainly supported his opinion.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    > What?!?!?

    So the whole point about the relevancy of a conventional manual transmission in the age of semi-automatic super cars was…. pointless???

  • avatar
    tuscreen-auto

    The other day, I happended to see a white 6 series coupe like the one in this article´s picture in the flesh for the first time. White, big (but not overly big) factory wheels, black window frames.

    It was stunningly beautiful.

    I actually stopped and stared at the thing for about a minute or so (until some other pedestrians started taking notice of that weird guy who seemed to be drooling over a white inanimate object from Munich).

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I’m often “that weird guy” over various types of cars, but usually not anything new. Most recently I’ve seen on the street:
      multiple Mercedes in amazing condition — W116, W126, and recently I believe a C107
      Audi ur-S6
      variety of Detroit iron in amazing condition — older Chevys and Caddys
      Ford Cortina (mentioned in one of the TTAC articles recently I believe)

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    There must be something in the MT. I bought new and still have a E46 m3 manual. I had to order the car and wait because I did not want to suffer the tyrany of the sunroof. The dealer was freaked at this combo and said if I did not take the car he could never sell it.

    Hardly a month goes by when an ethusiast does not want to buy it now. The sunroof added 40 lbs to the top of the car and apparently was bad for tracking. All US 997.1 GT3 porche had a sunroof too, you see very few if any 997.2 GT3 with sunroof.

    Point is manufacturers and dealers sometimes have a very poor understanding of the performance car buyer. Lets face it a 335 is already faster than you can possibly go on any road. A M series car on the street has a harder ride too. Some find the ride more appealing and intimate, the manual, exhaust etc just ads to the driving experience. Plus even the new DC systems dont work as well as an auto and are really not much fun. Yes they may be faster at the track but thats it.

    We buy these sports cars and sedans for driving fun, sadly driving fun has been eliminated from many oerformance cars, Lastly yes Jack is right DCT’s are like time bombs.

    Look at used ferrari prices, everyone wants a manual, used car desrieability is a factor even in anew car purchase, at least for a percenatge of buyers, and that clearly is a viable percentage.

    It is interesting that europeans who are considered to be more enlightened drivers and more enthusiastic on average dont insist on the manual. I gues the US is different. We are either prudish about sex or totaly over the top. Either ignorant about cars in general, or rabid enthusiasts.

    I doremember that it was not untill the Ferrari 430 that i read an article claming a flappy paddle was better. In the case of the 430 the revs apparently come on so quick and thre was so much else going on that the flappy paddle actualy added to the experience. But other cars are not quite that viceral or revvy. Maybe athe doctors porche 991 that sits in traffic to the office is better off with a flappy paddle. But then I say a good auto on the road is always better than a flapy paddle.

    Of corse offering flappy paddls in an M means the potential buyer can now include a wide range of posers expanding market share. In smaller cars like the focus and golf a flappy paddle is cheaper to make tha an auto, and helps fuel economy.

    So basicaly flappy paddles are better at the track for ultimate times. Appropriate in some superfast supercars, but take away relaibility and driving pleasure for the enthisiast in just about everything else.

    Oh yes my Sons teacher saved his whole life for his dream car, s earced for a year and just got a used MT v10 M5 he said he will never need another car.

    See what happens when porche offers the new GT3 in PDK only, there will be howls. Plus these systems weigh more.

    Bottom line, in the USA there are still some hard core drivers, and the want a MT, the market is big enough here to support its development.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I don’t understand why BMW doesn’t offer a MT in Europe. When I lived and worked in Europe in the late 80s and early 90s, I’ll bet two-thirds of all cars were manuals. Only the big sedans (BMW 7,MB S class, XJ6 etc.) had manuals. Have things changed that much?

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    An automatic transmission is the one component that guarantees to kill the resale value of a performance orientated automobile. Jack, you nailed it. Complex, fragile, and heart stopping expensive to replace. Anyone remember the BMW SMG transmission in the E46 M3? You can pick one up for about a 40% discount compared to the 6 speed manual. Funny how a manual transmission and a sunroof delete is the most desirable combination for a used M3 or 911.


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