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View Full Version : SMG vs. manual. Need help.


martintrott
05-06-2005, 06:05 AM
After looking at several cars, I have decided to upgrade my 2000 540i to a new 545 or 550.
I need help with advice on SMG. I have a stick now, which my wife can drive. What is the consensus opinion regarding SMG vs. standard.

Nick325xiT 5spd
05-06-2005, 06:07 AM
There is no consensus.

I have SMG II in my M3, and I'm ambivalent. A lot of that ambivalence has to do with the reliability problems that I've had with it. Basically, it can be one hell of a lot of fun, but if it's even the slightest bit off, you'll hate it.

xspeedy
05-06-2005, 06:10 AM
Get a regular old stick. It is proven with decades of implementation.

MaxBuck
05-06-2005, 06:39 AM
After looking at several cars, I have decided to upgrade my 2000 540i to a new 545 or 550.
I need help with advice on SMG. I have a stick now, which my wife can drive. What is the consensus opinion regarding SMG vs. standard.If you want performance, unless you are a professional driver, I think the Steptronic is the way to go. Very close in optimum performance times, and you don't need to fool with the clutch or stick, which means your real-world accel times are likely to be shorter.

If you want to brag about how you don't drive a slushbox, of course, then you must get the manual 6-speed. :bigpimp:

Nick325xiT 5spd
05-06-2005, 06:49 AM
If you want performance, unless you are a professional driver, I think the Steptronic is the way to go. Very close in optimum performance times, and you don't need to fool with the clutch or stick, which means your real-world accel times are likely to be shorter.

If you want to brag about how you don't drive a slushbox, of course, then you must get the manual 6-speed. :bigpimp:
SMG is not steptronic.

And you don't have to be a very good driver to get more out of a manual than a slushbox.

beewang
05-06-2005, 07:15 AM
After looking at several cars, I have decided to upgrade my 2000 540i to a new 545 or 550.
I need help with advice on SMG. I have a stick now, which my wife can drive. What is the consensus opinion regarding SMG vs. standard.

Given a choice, I will never pick stick. But then i don't live at Avon Lake, Population: 20 :p

If you like stick and the surrounding enviroment allows it, "stick" with it :p .

I love stick, but like the SMG even BETTER!! I alos like the fact that BMW is paying for the SMG upgrade on the 545/550. At somepoint in th future, that will stop. :)

cheers,


beewang :bigpimp:

BayAreaBMWFan
05-06-2005, 07:36 AM
If your wife could not drive a stick the SMG would be a no-brainer.
Since she can it becomes tougher.

If you are planning to hold the car for a long term, then I would go with the stick since it is more reliable and proven. If it is a lease, the SMG might be worth the fun especially since it is coming for free.

If you talk on the cell phone a lot or go in stop and go traffic, the SMG requires less attention and is less tiring.

Ågent99
05-06-2005, 08:20 AM
The SMG is fun and it can, indeed, shift must faster than a human. However, there is a learning curve to it that you might either like or hate. Personally, I like it and although I initially had some frustration with the SMG, I've learned to like it quite a bit.

Coming from a family of nothing but manuals, I did find the SMG quite confusing and the adjustment period was annoying. If you are coming from an automatic, you will adjust quicker to the SMG than if you are coming from a manual.

I initially had trouble putting the SMG into reverse because I wouldn't think to step on the brake in order for it to move to that gear. Auto guys don't think twice about that...I had to think 3, 4 times! :)

Also, I had trouble remembering which direction to shift the gears up (1-2-3...) and down (6-5-4....). Manual guys are used to rowing...SMG you only bump the shifter one direction to move up and the other to move down. Ditto with the paddle shifter on the steering wheel.

I even had a couple of instances where I needed to slow down quickly or snap the steering wheel quickly and I would forget that I was more or less driving an automatic. Yep, I reached for the brake thinking it was a clutch and needless to say, surprised everyone in the car including myself...the first time I did it. The next couple of times I did it I just felt stupid.

So, once you get used to the tranny and LEARN how to drive with it, it is pretty cool but it will take some getting used to.

When I did my ED of my 545i, I buddy of mine who owns a 2000 540iA went with me. He adjusted to the SMG much more quickly than I did.

MaxBuck
05-06-2005, 08:46 AM
SMG is not steptronic.

And you don't have to be a very good driver to get more out of a manual than a slushbox.
I am, of course, aware that SMG is not Steptronic.

It seems to me that if you are going to get an automatic tranny, then get a real auto and not the neither-fish-nor-fowl variant that SMG represents. And I will bet that the average driver, placed at Mid-Ohio or reasonably equivalent track and asked to run laps, would do so substantially faster equipped with the Steptronic than with either of the other choices. This assumes that the driver is in the 545i, and not in one of the straight-6es. With the 6, the manual might in fact be the better choice because of the relatively limited torque.

This is one man's opinion only, obviously. :D

Nick325xiT 5spd
05-06-2005, 08:50 AM
I am, of course, aware that SMG is not Steptronic.

It seems to me that if you are going to get an automatic tranny, then get a real auto and not the neither-fish-nor-fowl variant that SMG represents. And I will bet that the average driver, placed at Mid-Ohio or reasonably equivalent track and asked to run laps, would do so substantially faster equipped with the Steptronic than with either of the other choices. This assumes that the driver is in the 545i, and not in one of the straight-6es. With the 6, the manual might in fact be the better choice because of the relatively limited torque.

This is one man's opinion only, obviously. :D
If you want to set your bar that low, sure, you're right. The average driver, who is lucky if he or she can parallel park without hitting anything will be faster with an automatic.

MaxBuck
05-06-2005, 09:02 AM
If you want to set your bar that low, sure, you're right. The average driver, who is lucky if he or she can parallel park without hitting anything will be faster with an automatic.Of course, with PDC it is ever so much easier to parallel park without hitting anything. Or so I hope. :D

In all seriousness, it should be worth something to see what has happened to transmissions in major racing in the past few years. Most are essentially automatics. Allows the driver to focus his/her attention on stuff other than clutching and rowing.

For those who truly enjoy manual trannies, have at it; I used to be one of you, till I moved to Pittsburgh and found out what a pain it is to stop on an 8% grade and then start up from a stop light or stop sign. Moved to auto at that point and have not looked back. With a Taurus SHO the torque was always adequate to overcome the inefficiency of the auto, and it will be same for the 545i I have ordered. As I mentioned above, with a straight-6 my viewpoint would likely be different.

chidozie obuekw
05-10-2005, 01:20 PM
After looking at several cars, I have decided to upgrade my 2000 540i to a new 545 or 550.
I need help with advice on SMG. I have a stick now, which my wife can drive. What is the consensus opinion regarding SMG vs. standard.
I M new to this and BMW, please can someone explain to me the difference between the SMG and Steptronic transmissions?

Ågent99
05-10-2005, 01:32 PM
Steptronic is a true automatic transmission. It has a mode that you can change the gears yourself instead of letting the tranny decide when to shift.

The SMG (sequential manual gearbox) is a manual. It even has a clutch however you don't have the traditional clutch pedal any longer. The car will dip the clutch, shift, and then release the clutch for you.

So while in theory the steptronic and the SMG do about the same thing, they do it very differently.

Stuka
05-10-2005, 01:44 PM
After looking at several cars, I have decided to upgrade my 2000 540i to a new 545 or 550.
I need help with advice on SMG. I have a stick now, which my wife can drive. What is the consensus opinion regarding SMG vs. standard.

When I had the M3 with SMG, I did not miss the stick shift.

Now that all my cars are stick shift, I miss the SMG in the M3.

One good thign about regular SMG's in bimmers, it WILL rev match when you do 2 to 1 downshift off throttle. The SMGII in the M3 was programmed specifically NOT to do this to minimize the gas guzzler tax liability.

My gf can drive stick shift cars just fine, but will be getting SMGII in her M3. I am a technology kind of guy, and SMG is a cool piece of technology. Plus the fact that new BMW clutches suck big time. If you were spoiled by the E36 M3 clutch, there really isn't anything out there that's anywhere near as good in terms of feel and bite.

Stuka
05-10-2005, 01:47 PM
For those who truly enjoy manual trannies, have at it; I used to be one of you, till I moved to Pittsburgh and found out what a pain it is to stop on an 8% grade and then start up from a stop light or stop sign. Moved to auto at that point and have not looked back. With a Taurus SHO the torque was always adequate to overcome the inefficiency of the auto, and it will be same for the 545i I have ordered. As I mentioned above, with a straight-6 my viewpoint would likely be different.

That's because new cars have sh*t for clutch.

I much prefer driving the E30 in SFC city traffic than the Turbo. Both are stick shift, but the E30 just had such great feel and bite, that it was nothing to get the car going, even when rolling back. E36 M3 was the same way.

The Turbo is another story, and same with the sh*t for clutch regular E46's.

The HACK
05-10-2005, 01:49 PM
I am, of course, aware that SMG is not Steptronic.

It seems to me that if you are going to get an automatic tranny, then get a real auto and not the neither-fish-nor-fowl variant that SMG represents. And I will bet that the average driver, placed at Mid-Ohio or reasonably equivalent track and asked to run laps, would do so substantially faster equipped with the Steptronic than with either of the other choices. This assumes that the driver is in the 545i, and not in one of the straight-6es. With the 6, the manual might in fact be the better choice because of the relatively limited torque.

This is one man's opinion only, obviously. :D
Have you ever driven an SMG equipped car on track? It's like cheating. There's no way in hell two similarly modeled car, one equipped with steptronic, the other with SMG, that the step will even come remotely close to the ease of operation on the SMG and the lap times. NO WAY IN HELL.

If you ever plan on taking the car to the track at least semi-regularly (like 2-3 times a year), GET THE SMG.

Stuka
05-10-2005, 01:51 PM
And I will bet that the average driver, placed at Mid-Ohio or reasonably equivalent track and asked to run laps, would do so substantially faster equipped with the Steptronic than with either of the other choices. This assumes that the driver is in the 545i, and not in one of the straight-6es. With the 6, the manual might in fact be the better choice because of the relatively limited torque.

Er, no. I had the misfortune of driving an automatic car on the track once, and let me tell you, it sucked. :thumbdwn:

I was never in power, because the torque converter was never locked, and it just kind of slush around in there. I was never in the right gear, and I could never get the car going right. :banghead:

In short, auto sucks at the track, big time. And that POS steptronic whatever auto slushie POS tranny still upshifts for you even if you tell it to go to 3. There really is no merit to the existence of slushies in this world. It makes drivers lazier, sh*ttier, and robs a good car of any driving character. :thumbdwn:

MaxBuck
05-10-2005, 05:08 PM
Er, no. I had the misfortune of driving an automatic car on the track once, and let me tell you, it sucked. :thumbdwn:

I was never in power, because the torque converter was never locked, and it just kind of slush around in there. I was never in the right gear, and I could never get the car going right. :banghead:

In short, auto sucks at the track, big time. And that POS steptronic whatever auto slushie POS tranny still upshifts for you even if you tell it to go to 3. There really is no merit to the existence of slushies in this world. It makes drivers lazier, sh*ttier, and robs a good car of any driving character. :thumbdwn:Boy. Pretty moralistic stuff here.

It is clear that preference in tranny type is as individual as preference in color of an automobile. I don't plan to depreciate the preference of those who prefer manuals, but implying that somehow I am a lazy, sh*tty driver because I have a well-reasoned preference for Steptronic ...

:flame:

The HACK
05-10-2005, 05:14 PM
Boy. Pretty moralistic stuff here.

It is clear that preference in tranny type is as individual as preference in color of an automobile. I don't plan to depreciate the preference of those who prefer manuals, but implying that somehow I am a lazy, sh*tty driver because I have a well-reasoned preference for Steptronic ... :flame:Nobody cares if you prefer auto, manual, or SMG. But, if you want to claim that an auto performs as well as a manual or SMG, which your post that we both quoted clearly indicates, you're dilusional. I had a manual E46 323Ci and an automatic E46 323Ci, and trust me, the manual is far superior to the auto in performance. But I still bought the auto. Why? Because my wife prefers it in rush hour L.A. traffic which she traverses daily.

And Stuka is still bitter that the ONE TIME he gave me the point-by on the track, it was in an automatic. :rofl:

MaxBuck
05-10-2005, 05:21 PM
Nobody cares if you prefer auto, manual, or SMG. But, if you want to claim that an auto performs as well as a manual or SMG, you're dilusional. I had a manual E46 323Ci and an automatic E46 323Ci, and trust me, the manual is far superior to the auto in performance. But I still bought the auto. Why? Because my wife prefers it in rush hour L.A. traffic which she traverses daily.

And Stuka is still bitter that the ONE TIME he gave me the point-by on the track, it was in an automatic. :rofl:
Oh, for crying out loud, you're driving 323s. Of course I'd agree that that engine is overmatched by even an excellent autobox. I'm talking v8 with loads of torque, like a 545.

Bottom line, the question by the guy who asks whether to buy the SMG - nobody knows but him! He needs to drive them all! And let us all know what he bought! (With pictures, of course.) I will say this - the SMG interior is VERY clean-looking. Short-throw stick on that fits nicely onto the center console.

:thumbup:

Stuka
05-10-2005, 09:44 PM
Oh, for crying out loud, you're driving 323s. Of course I'd agree that that engine is overmatched by even an excellent autobox. I'm talking v8 with loads of torque, like a 545.

Uh, have you been on the track? :confused:

A 545 stick will spank the sh*t out of a 545 slush-o-matic-wah-wah-mommy-I-can't-deal-with-traffic, especially on the track. :rolleyes: If you dan't comprehend that, then may I humbly suggest some fahrschule? :dunno:

Did you somehow miss the part about not being in the right gear at any stupid time, and the tranny upshifting for you even when you put it in that super steptronic manual mode that cures all cancer and world hunger? :dunno:

Back then, my skill was pretty evenly matched with Hack's, and I was driving a car with way bigger motor mated to a slushie. And yes, Hack, in his thundering hamster powered 323 passed me. And this is Butt on willow, not really an HP track with the configuration that we were running. :thumbdwn:

Lastly, I can easily name 10 festers that commute in heavy LA traffic everyday in their stick shift bimmers. It is laziness, and to say that the "performance" of the same car with a neutering tranny is the same as one with a proper gearbox is delusional :rolleyes:

MaxBuck
05-11-2005, 05:20 AM
Uh, have you been on the track? :confused:

A 545 stick will spank the sh*t out of a 545 slush-o-matic-wah-wah-mommy-I-can't-deal-with-traffic, especially on the track. :rolleyes: If you dan't comprehend that, then may I humbly suggest some fahrschule? :dunno:

Did you somehow miss the part about not being in the right gear at any stupid time, and the tranny upshifting for you even when you put it in that super steptronic manual mode that cures all cancer and world hunger? :dunno:

Back then, my skill was pretty evenly matched with Hack's, and I was driving a car with way bigger motor mated to a slushie. And yes, Hack, in his thundering hamster powered 323 passed me. And this is Butt on willow, not really an HP track with the configuration that we were running. :thumbdwn:

Lastly, I can easily name 10 festers that commute in heavy LA traffic everyday in their stick shift bimmers. It is laziness, and to say that the "performance" of the same car with a neutering tranny is the same as one with a proper gearbox is delusional :rolleyes:OK, Stuka. You win. :loco:

wagonman
05-19-2005, 05:15 PM
and crash out. true sports car fans would say, why bother with these bimmers? get a porsche if you want a real sports car. bimmers are sports sedans/grand touring cars. they are awesome machines and i love them no doubt. but if you want to talk true sports cars can you really beat a porsche 911?

Ågent99
05-19-2005, 05:26 PM
Well, then we could get into all the straight-line, dollars/hp crap, too. Get a mustang with an S/C for under 2k and you can rip good quarter miles if that is your thing.

BMW is a good blend of sportyness and comfort....'nuff said. :)

wagonman
05-19-2005, 05:35 PM
Well, then we could get into all the straight-line, dollars/hp crap, too. Get a mustang with an S/C for under 2k and you can rip good quarter miles if that is your thing.

BMW is a good blend of sportyness and comfort....'nuff said. :)
i understand that argument although i am talking about european ie (cool) cars. american cars are decidedly uncool in my book. this is a foolish argument in a way because it really is a subjective choice. that is the beauty of the bmw line. for example, you can buy a 545i with all the sports trimmings and smg, or a 525 for the "value" approach. there is no right answer.

SergeyM
05-19-2005, 06:38 PM
I understand very well why manual 545 should accelerate better that a car with the auto tranny but the quickest acceleration times any mag got so far for 545 i/6 was 5.5 sec to 60 mph and 14.0 sec 1/4 mile. The auto on the other hand routinely gets 5.3-5.2 sec and high 13 sec 1/4 mile. Auto must have shorter gearing or whatever. Anyway it is nice to cruise around in and auto 545 knowing that you can beat 545 i/6 anytime you want.

KJen
05-20-2005, 03:12 AM
SMG is a very poor box for city driving and has a very short clutch life.

After looking at several cars, I have decided to upgrade my 2000 540i to a new 545 or 550.
I need help with advice on SMG. I have a stick now, which my wife can drive. What is the consensus opinion regarding SMG vs. standard.

wagonman
05-20-2005, 07:55 AM
SMG is a very poor box for city driving and has a very short clutch life.
appraisal from our friend in singapore. underscores my point. forget about all this fancy-shmancy stuff. just get basic steering and a steptronic.