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E90/E92/E93 M3 (2008+)
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  #26  
Old 05-16-2007, 05:57 PM
plien69 plien69 is offline
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I've owned and driven automatics, I've owned and driven 3-pedal manuals, and I've owned and driven SMG. I find my driving style in an SMG car to be much closer to that of a true manual, than that of an automatic. I don't care whether you call SMG an automatic or not. If it makes you feel better to call it an automatic, then knock yourself out. I'll still believe that SMG's character is closer to that of a manual than an automatic. There's more to driving than just pushing a clutch pedal and moving a shift lever.

How about this: it's an automatic that drives like a manual?
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  #27  
Old 05-16-2007, 06:16 PM
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Personally I would accept "an automatic that is more like a manual" since it does not allow full manual control of engine engagement. But that's just my opinion. If it suits your driving style it is the correct transmission choice for you whatever it is called.
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  #28  
Old 05-16-2007, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ObD View Post


I push the clutch pedal with a manual much less than I push the brake pedal with an automatic.
This makes no sense. The car has 6 gears. Are you saying you stop 6 times more often than shift?
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  #29  
Old 05-18-2007, 04:48 AM
joema joema is offline
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In common parlance, "automatic transmission" refers to a conventional torque converter automatic with a planetary gearset. That doesn't mean other transmission designs have no automatic elements. E.g, the CVT on an Audi or Saturn may appear to the end user as an automatic.

An important issue is what audience is using the term. If you're describing the driver interface to a non-enthusiast (say your mother is buying an Audi CVT), you might say "it's an automatic, you don't have to shift". The internal operation could be belt-and-pulley CVT, hydrostatic drive, or DSG. But if it drives similar to a familiar torque converter automatic, you could describe it to a non-technical person as an automatic.

However -- if you're discussing the technology among enthusiasts, the expectation is the term reflects the internal operation. E.g, a Car & Driver spec sheet would never describe a CVT or DSG as simply "an automatic".

BMW's SMG and Audi's DSG are more accurately called automated manual transmissions, or clutchless manual transmissions. They may eventually be refined to the point whereby an end user can't distinguish between them and a conventional automatic, but the internal operation is different. Thus in a technical discussion you'd probably use the more descriptive term.
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  #30  
Old 05-18-2007, 05:39 AM
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Automatic transmissions were called "automatic" because they performed their routine functions automatically, i.e. without any input from the operator. That is what "automatic" means unless you are making up a new language. Back in the mid-1950's nobody gave a tinker's dam about whether or not their transmission had a fluid coupling (such as the GM Hydra-matic) or a torque converter (such as everybody else) as long as it shifted for itself and didn't require the driver to release a clutch. They could have been operated by electronics, clever clockwork mechanisms, or even magic for all anyone cared. They were automatic and that was what mattered.

Now we have much better automatic transmissions that do not require fluid couplings or torque converters, but they still perform some or all of their functions without human input, i.e. automatically. Ergo, they are automatic transmissions.

Sure, the automotive press will refrain from calling them "automatic transmissions" out of deference to their advertisers who want them to use the new buzz-word, but they won't call them "manual transmissions" either. And please remember that the press (automotive or otherwise) has no need to be accurate as long as they don't commit libel; they only need to let their advertisers know that you buy their rag, and if twisting the meaning of words will sell copy they will twist with a will. If they are caught in an error, they simply print a tiny retraction.

Yes, the enthusiast will want to know how their car's transmission works and that is fine. I want to know such things about my own cars, as well as how the engine works and a bunch of other stuff as well. But while knowing that my transmission uses computer-controlled hydraulics to disengage and engage one or more friction clutches may well be useful to me, it does not make said transmission a manual.

I guess I'm having a problem with just why you refuse to use the word "automatic" to refer to a mechanism that performs its functions automatically.
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  #31  
Old 05-18-2007, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De_UnKnOwN_1 View Post
SMG was a marketing failure because people did not understand it, they THOUGHT it was an automatic

but it was not

DSG is not an automatic, it has no torque converter, it has 2 clutches.
It has a P R N D S layout because it is what is familar to the vast majority of people, and the drive mode is smooth as a babys butt. The manual mode is a manual..fast smooth shifting..

it is only driven like an auto when it is in D mode, the fact that the "default" mode is drive does not mean that its an automatic transmission.

If i am not mistaken, when you turn on the SMG it defaults the automatic mode anyway
Well my SMG does not default into Auto mode, its in Seq mode.

So what you are saying is that the DSG drives very similar to the SMG, you have that roll back when you are on a hill, is that true?

Although the layout of the P R N D S looks like a auto, it is signficantly not an auto, hmm.. could have fooled me.

It comes down to this, how does the car feel when driving it. Honestly driving an automatic either in auto mode or steptronic doesnt feel like a manual, nor will it ever.

On the auto step, I cant down shift and rev the engine where the clutch with contact the fly, actually the SMG will allow the rev of the engine before the clutch gets locked into with the fly. It just makes driving more fun especially with my muffler...:-)

In a step, I cant do this, like my X3, so it feels like a auto, when I down shift in the step, it just puts it RIGHT into gear.

If I had a manual, obviously, when I down shift, by just pressing the clutch pedal, I can rev all I want. Overall, the SMG is a fun tranny, feels like nearly a manual without the hassle of the clutch, and the shift paddles are an extra bonus to the fun.

The rev of th engine is just an example of the manual feel.
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  #32  
Old 05-18-2007, 09:19 AM
plien69 plien69 is offline
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Bob,

Read your well-worded response, and would like to comment:

You actually give the reasoning for avoiding the blanket use of the term "automatic" in your own response. The term automatic has come to acquire (since the 1950s) a specific semantic meaning for both enthusiast and non-enthusiast alike: transmissions that shift without human input, aided by a fluid coupling/torque converter.

You're correct in that the non-enthusiast doesn't care that it has a fluid coupling, torque converter, underpants gnomes, etc. to help with the shifting. And to that audience, I may well describe SMG as a form of automatic transmission.

But said yourself, "an enthusiast will want to know how their car's transmission works." Well, we're enthusiasts here at bf.c, and at the level of conversation we have here, I believe that labeling SMG as simply an "automatic" glosses over the many real differences between SMG and a traditional automatic.

Why do I object to simply using the term "automatic" to describe SMG?
1. An SMG does not have a torque converter, and at the enthusiast level this makes a big difference because:
2. SMG does not drive the same as a traditional automatic
3. In thought process, SMG drives much more like a manual than a traditional automatic

I believe that saying the SMG is an "automatic" could -- in the context of bf.c -- semantically ascribe it characteristics that it does not have.
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Last edited by plien69; 05-18-2007 at 09:20 AM. Reason: for a typo / clarity
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  #33  
Old 05-18-2007, 10:35 AM
joema joema is offline
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Originally Posted by Bob Clevenger View Post
...I guess I'm having a problem with just why you refuse to use the word "automatic" to refer to a mechanism that performs its functions automatically.
There's nothing wrong with describing SMG II or DSG as having an "automatic" mode of operation.

However among the general populace, the term "automatic transmission" conveys a set of characteristics, most commonly implemented by a torque converter and planetary gearset. Those characteristics include not only automatic shifting, but smooth up and down shifts, certain kickdown behavior, certain behavior accelerating from stop, etc.

While it's true SMG II (for example) can shift gears automatically, describing it solely as "an automatic transmission" would be misleading, since that phrase commonly means something else. It's more accurate to call SMG/DSG an automated manual transmission, or clutchless manual transmission, with an available fully automatic mode.

There are many examples of words which originally had one meaning, but over time were by convention applied to something else. E.g, a common household electric fan has a cooling effect, but you wouldn't describe it as "a refrigerator".
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  #34  
Old 05-18-2007, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joema View Post
There's nothing wrong with describing SMG II or DSG as having an "automatic" mode of operation.

However among the general populace, the term "automatic transmission" conveys a set of characteristics, most commonly implemented by a torque converter and planetary gearset. Those characteristics include not only automatic shifting, but smooth up and down shifts, certain kickdown behavior, certain behavior accelerating from stop, etc.

While it's true SMG II (for example) can shift gears automatically, describing it solely as "an automatic transmission" would be misleading, since that phrase commonly means something else. It's more accurate to call SMG/DSG an automated manual transmission, or clutchless manual transmission, with an available fully automatic mode.

There are many examples of words which originally had one meaning, but over time were by convention applied to something else. E.g, a common household electric fan has a cooling effect, but you wouldn't describe it as "a refrigerator".
An automated manual transmission? That is an automatic. Does that make a steptronic a manual automated transmission?

Clutchless manual transmission? The SMG has a clutch, just no clutch pedal. An AUTOMATED COMPUTER takes care of the clutch, shifts, engaging, disengaging, etc. But yeah, it is a manual.

The reality is, SMG's are called manuals because of testosterone.

Last edited by chuck92103; 05-18-2007 at 11:51 AM.
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  #35  
Old 05-18-2007, 12:13 PM
plien69 plien69 is offline
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Originally Posted by chuck92103 View Post
An automated manual transmission? That is an automatic. Does that make a steptronic a manual automated transmission?

Clutchless manual transmission? The SMG has a clutch, just no clutch pedal. An AUTOMATED COMPUTER takes care of the clutch, shifts, engaging, disengaging, etc. But yeah, it is a manual.

The reality is, SMG's are called manuals because of testosterone.
Are you not reading our posts where we explain why we think there is a difference between calling something an "automated manual transmission" and an "automatic transmission?" And we're not even saying they have to be called true "manual" transmissions. You're putting those words in our mouths (well, mine anyway).

Disagree with us if you like, but your replies make it seem like you're not even reading what we've written, and are just hell bent on calling SMG an "automatic" because somehow that makes you feel better. Maybe you want SMG to be associated with those negative connotations that come with the word "automatic?"
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  #36  
Old 05-18-2007, 12:47 PM
sdbrandon sdbrandon is offline
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I think there are three issues here.

1. Folks are applying what used to be the standard litmus test for determining whether or not a car is an automatic or manual. Hence the clutch or torque converter.

2. Folks have fallen for marketing hype, buzz, whatever you want to call it to convince you that a computer controlled tranny can be an automatic or manual by using the obsolete ltimus test. Hence the clutch or torque converter.

3. They have convinced people that pushing a button on a steering wheel is shifting the car manually. If this is true, from a driver perspective what is the difference being in step mode?

Regardless of what BMW or anyone rag says, the issue here is not parts, but operation. Either tranny relies on a computer to automate the shifting. We should focus on the defination of the word automatic.

So apply some common sense folks and stop listening to marketing hype. No one buys it.

Otherwise I would be here telling you that the Toyota Prius with a CVT transmission is really a manual. You see, it has no gears, and no shifting is required. Essentially you are in the same gear all the time. So is it a manual that never shifts? It has no torque converter or clutch? Huh? Well, what do you say now?
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  #37  
Old 05-18-2007, 12:55 PM
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I say "call it what it is" as defined by function.

If it's a manual trans, call it a manual trans (or "stick-shift" if you prefer).

If it's a trans with no way to shift manually or to modulate the engine-to-gearbox connexion, call it an automatic trans.

If it is a blend of both, call it a semi-automatic trans or just use the name of the technology used, such as SMG, DSG, CVT, or "propulsion spell" --- whatever.

Why say: "It's neither fish nor fowl, but it's more like fish than fowl, so we'll call it a fish."?
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  #38  
Old 05-18-2007, 01:50 PM
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These are always fun discussions to read.

All I can say is that I drove the SMG II M3 and I really liked it. Perhaps you could respond and say "I could stick a set of paddles on a Camry and you couldn't tell the difference" and I guess that's where the bits get sticky....

What it comes down to for me is the ability to communicate with the vehicle my next move and have it be ready to respond. It is a combination of being engaged with the process of driving and with the availability of power and sometimes, the lack of power. Sometimes you just want to stay in a higher gear and go up a few mph.

As transmission technologies advance and change much of this sense of being connected to the vehicle may wane. for the time being, people like what they like. Deriding someone else choice is being judgmental and as such isn't very nice. The best you can do is to offer up the facts and let people decide for themselves what they want to do. There are plenty of choices out there, the way we help each other is to provide the information which will allow us to select those choices that best suit our particular need.

Gasoline? Diesel? Hybrid? - Depends on what you need
FWD, AWD, RWD? - Depends on what you need
Automatic, Manual, DSG, SMG - What do you want? What do you need? What do you like?

That's my 2 cents on it anyway.
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  #39  
Old 05-20-2007, 03:34 PM
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DSG, would be cool.

I think though that they should call DSG, SMG, and F1 Transmissions "Semi-Automatic", or "Automatic Clutch" transmissions as they differ greatly from "Auto-Stick" Manual Selectable Automatics which have Torque Converters.

I do thing the DSG will eventually replace the Automatic Transmission altogether (when pricing of them goes down).
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  #40  
Old 05-25-2007, 12:19 PM
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From reading your posts, sounds to me like most of you do not actually own a car with SMG transmission.

SMG is not an automatic transmission, by definition as well as in practice.

1) An automatic transmission shift gears automatically, not at will, based on a pre-programmed piece of software or electronic circuit signals. An SMG wil NEVER shift gears for you unless you ask kit to. SMG is pretty much a Formula 1 style transmission, are you guys saying that F1 cars have an automatic transmission?

If you've driven an SMG you would know right away that it acts exactly like a car with a cluth *pedal*, meaning, if you don't mash the gas pedal in a linear fashion, wether fast or slow, yet linear, the car will jump and hesitate, just like it would with a clutch *pedal*.

The failure was not because of the automatic mis-understanding, the failure is that M3 purists or car purists in general prefer to have a clutch pedal in order to modulate it as they see fit.

I personally own an M3 with SMG II and I am a purist, for example I would never buy a front engine Porsche or a Ferrari that isn't red or modify a piece of art such as the M3, I believe engineers spent years of research that I am not willing to touch, catch my drift? However the SMG is a masterpiece of mechnical engineering, it drives wonderful if you learn how to drive it, if you don't know how to drive it, please change lanes (but don't take too long while pressing the clutch pedal) if you see us in your rear view mirror
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  #41  
Old 05-25-2007, 02:12 PM
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Exactly! With a foot-operated clutch I can modulate the engagement as I see fit, not as the computer sees fit. To me, that is the critical diffefence between manual and automatic.
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  #42  
Old 05-25-2007, 02:41 PM
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My climate control is manual too. You see I have to push buttons too.
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  #43  
Old 05-27-2007, 10:05 PM
jetstream23 jetstream23 is offline
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I guess it's just weird that all the race cars in the world are now automatics! Indy, NASCAR, etc.
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  #44  
Old 05-27-2007, 10:07 PM
jetstream23 jetstream23 is offline
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I agree, 3 pedals is the only true manual! And I know many of you are looking for the next M3 without power steering because power steering is for girls!
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  #45  
Old 05-27-2007, 10:52 PM
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I guess it's just weird that all the race cars in the world are now automatics! Indy, NASCAR, etc.
Not weird at all; the semi-automatics are faster and racing is about being the fastest, not about being the most fun to drive. Semi-automatic transmissions are very effective, and they are well-suited to some drivers. Just don't call them manual transmissions, please.
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  #46  
Old 05-28-2007, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Clevenger View Post
Just don't call them manual transmissions, please.
But don't call them 'automatic' neither please!
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  #47  
Old 05-28-2007, 12:55 PM
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I think we're getting somewhere! How about 'semi-automatic'?
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  #48  
Old 05-29-2007, 12:03 AM
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I think we're getting somewhere! How about 'semi-automatic'?
Yes, we're making progress. How about "mostly manual" ?
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  #49  
Old 05-29-2007, 01:36 AM
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Actually, I prefer to call things by their proper names --- in this case, Manual, SMG, & Automatic. But it doesn't matter all that much what one calls it, for "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Or as the Bard of Hibbing, MN once said: "You are right from your side and I am right from mine. We're both just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind."
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  #50  
Old 05-29-2007, 07:33 AM
joema joema is offline
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SMG-type transmissions are often described as "semi-automatic transmissions". However they're also often called clutchless manual, or automated manual transmissions. There's no governing body that polices proper terminology in this area, the important thing is using the term that best conveys the idea to your audience. The audience can vary, hence the need to vary the description.

Describing an SMG simply as "an automatic transmission", while technically correct in some details, conveys the wrong idea for most people.

There is no simple answer that is (a) concise, (b) accurate, and (c) conveys the idea to most people. The reason is SMG/DSG have new operational characteristics that don't map perfectly to most people's expectations of how a transmission behaves.

For an automotive enthusiast audience, just saying SMG, DSG, DCT, semi-automatic transmission, etc, is sufficient. They'll generally know what that means.

For a broader audience (e.g, your mother gets in your new SMGII-equipped e46 M3 and asks "is it automatic or manual?"), it's more difficult. There's almost no way in a single word or short phrase to convey the characteristics.

Possibly DSG tuned for passenger car service and in full automatic mode could be called "an automatic", as the external behavior is fairly close to a conventional torque converter automatic. However to an enthusiast, you'd probably describe it as "DSG", or "twin clutch semiautomatic with fully automatic mode", etc.

What the upcoming M-DCT will be like, we don't yet know. If SMGIII is any guide, it will probably have numerous automatic and manual-sequential modes of varying agressiveness. In the most agressive "sport" mode, it will probably be very different from a "tiptronic"-style automatic.

I think most enthusiast's objections to paddle-shifted semi-automatics stem from earlier poor experiences with tiptronic-style automatics. In those the manual shift mode is often sluggish, the transmission is frequently shifts by itself despite the manual mode. E.g, you generally can't bounce it off the rev limiter, and often it will auto-downshift at full throttle.

If in max sport mode, M-DCT shifts instantly, lets me hit the rev limiter, and only shifts when I command, that's a lot closer to manual-type driver involvement.
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