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E60 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series (E60 chassis) was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E60 is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-11-2006, 02:40 PM
Riles Riles is offline
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Mein Auto: 2007 550i
Help--what transmission do I get?

I'm planning to purchase a 550i sport in the next couple of months, and I need help to decide on the right transmission for us.

I have a manual stick on our current car (2002 330i) but I'd like to have the option to drive the new car in some sort of "automatic" mode (at least half the time). Also, my wife hates to drive a manual transmission so I've promised her that the new 550i will have some sort of automatic option for her.

Can anyone give me advice on which of the 550i transmissions is best for our long-term use?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 05-11-2006, 02:42 PM
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325ic a beer 325ic a beer is offline
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Oh Boy,,

Here We Go Again......
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  #3  
Old 05-11-2006, 02:54 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Do some searching on the SMG in here and see what you think.
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  #4  
Old 05-11-2006, 03:53 PM
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vegastrashed vegastrashed is offline
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Save yourself some money and go with the Step. SMG or manual, will cost you $1300 in Gas Guzzler Tax. <- Agent99 corrected me, after I mistakenly said $3K. And, I verified it by looking in the Pricing Detail pdf. Step also has the manual shift mode you want. There have been reports and testing that the Step is the fastest transmission, faster than both SMG and manual in the 545/550 models. Note: I have SMG, and have not yet begun my G-meter testing yet. I hope I can get times as fast as the Step or FASTER.
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Last edited by Ågent99; 05-11-2006 at 04:07 PM.
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2006, 04:05 PM
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chuck92103 chuck92103 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riles
I'm planning to purchase a 550i sport in the next couple of months, and I need help to decide on the right transmission for us.

I have a manual stick on our current car (2002 330i) but I'd like to have the option to drive the new car in some sort of "automatic" mode (at least half the time). Also, my wife hates to drive a manual transmission so I've promised her that the new 550i will have some sort of automatic option for her.

Can anyone give me advice on which of the 550i transmissions is best for our long-term use?

Thanks!
Here is an objective opinion. Having owned a 98 540I 6SP, I feel I can offer some experience with this issue.

First, the 5/6/7 series cars are best suited for a steptronic. They are in fact luxury coupe/sedans, not sport sports cars. However, I realize some folks want a manual or SMG no matter what, and that is fine too. To each his own.

However, if you decide to get a manual tranny with a BMW V8 be warned. Buying a manual tranny for a V8 is much different than buying one for a 6 cylinder or smaller engine.

The V8 has a ton of torque, horsepower, and performance that does really well regardless of the tranny selected.

The problem I have with mating a manual tranny to a 350HP V8, is there is too much torque. You will find yourself using 2/4/6 gears and ignoring the rest. When I had my 98 540i, I drove 95% of the time in 2nd or 4th gear.

I would really get a step in a 550. The SMG is not the same as in the M, and even though there is an auto mode for the wife, the tranny is just too new and a lot of improvements are still left to be done.

If you check there is a thread on the E63 board that talks bout the steptronic being faster in the 545/550 than the other tranny offerings. The same is true for the 6 series. The steptronic in the 550/650 is nothing like the ones made a few years ago. So try them out before your sell them short.

Also, driving a stick in a BMW V8 is not the same a s driving a 3 series. The V8 is smoother, quieter, etc. A real different feeling that left me wondering why I am bothering with a manual. The car is very isolated compared to the lower end models so I saw no thrill with a stick. I say save the sticks for the M3, 3 series, Z's, etc. Small little pocket rockets that benefit from a manual.

Good luck with your decision.

Last edited by chuck92103; 05-11-2006 at 04:09 PM.
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  #6  
Old 05-11-2006, 04:15 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Nice perspective, Chuck! When I had my 545i/SMG, I thought I had made a HUGE mistake for the first couple of days of ownership.

Riles, the SMG has all its own controversies (like I said, search the forum here...plenty o' threads) but suffice it to say that it is new technology and takes time to learn and once I did, I found it to be quite an exciting tranny to have!

However, Chuck, your point about I6 vs V8 in terms of the tranny choice is interesting. I've driven a 530i/5 for many years and it was and still is fine. The 545i/SMG was a whole 'nuther story due to the mind-numbing torque of the engine however. But, I've never driven a manual BMW V8 except for a brief stint in a 2003 M5 once.

The 5er is rare in its ability to be a luxury car and sport's car at the same time depending on how you drive it and/or outfit it. I think that draws and keeps many folks buying this marquee....
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  #7  
Old 05-11-2006, 06:29 PM
houbmw houbmw is offline
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Hey, which is better(quicker) for the i6, the smg or steptronic???
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  #8  
Old 05-11-2006, 08:01 PM
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SteVTEC SteVTEC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck92103
If you check there is a thread on the E63 board that talks bout the steptronic being faster in the 545/550 than the other tranny offerings. The same is true for the 6 series. The steptronic in the 550/650 is nothing like the ones made a few years ago. So try them out before your sell them short.
Not surprised to hear that at all. The other thing that the steptronic gives you is the surge of torque from the torque converter flashing on a hard launch. That's what helps hardcore drag racers rocket off the line so hard, which is why hardcore drag racers pretty much all use automatics, albeit HIGHLY modified ones.

A buddy of mine has an E39 540i 6spd too and he doesn't like driving it because he says the first two gears are pretty much useless. If you even touch the gas you winds the gears out so quickly that you end up shifting like every 2 seconds. Plus he lives in the DC area where the population density is very high and the roads are always packed. There just isn't a good place to really open up the car and have some fun with it.

The V8 manual and SMG cars "could" avoid the gas guzzler tax, but they'd have to put a skip-shift feature in that forces a 1-4 shift instead of 1-2 if you're not accelerating hard enough. That's far more economical since a petrol engine operates most efficiently rather heavily loaded and at low-RPMs, which is exactly what a 1-4 skip shift does. I guess this isn't in BMW's philosophy. If you do that, you'll definitely get much better mileage though.
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  #9  
Old 05-11-2006, 08:03 PM
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SteVTEC SteVTEC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houbmw
Hey, which is better(quicker) for the i6, the smg or steptronic???
I think you'll have to answer that for yourself, because it all depends on what you're looking for.
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  #10  
Old 05-12-2006, 02:50 PM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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sounds like you're an SMG candidate, esp. if you prefer the feel of a manual versus an auto but can't/really dont want a manual.
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