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General BMW
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  #1  
Old 01-03-2002, 12:07 AM
Jim in Oregon Jim in Oregon is offline
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Life with SMG after 750 miles....

Let me preface this by first saying I have driven manual transmission cars now for 36 years. I am a hater of automatics because they take away control from the driver. Of course, driving around town in my 92 Toyota Paseo automatic or my wife's 2001 Honda Civic automatic I don't have to worry about shifting and that is good in stop and go traffic.

Enter SMG....

I chose SMG on my M3 because I am a techno-freak. I love new electronic gadgets. I was so excited years ago when I installed my first garage door opener I nearly wet my pants. How could I have lived without it? The same goes for remote controls, gameboys, PS2, calculators, and computers. I was very happy working with DOS and 64K RAM. Then came these little pictures that you click on and Windows is born. Wow.

The same thing can be said of the automobile. We are entering a whole new generation of transmissions. We have ABS, DBC, DSC, CBC....the list goes on and on. Now we have SMG: a manual transmission with no clutch pedal. Is it an automatic or a manual? Well......

After 750 miles of all types of driving, I'm hooked on it. It offers the best of both worlds. I can still control the shifts and I can control the speed of the shifts. I can do perfect heel & toes. I can release the clutch perfectly every time....well almost perfectly every time. So what's not to like. I decided to first list the bad of the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

The Bad

Not all shifts are perfect. It's quite easy to trick the system. If you have a constant pedal pressure as you downshift, ask the car to downshift, and then back off on the pedal, the car will heel and toe incorrectly, sending the revs much higher than needed. It also will "ride the clutch" sometimes on an upshift causing revs to be too high and making one feel like a novice. When you come to a stop, the car will automatically downshift to first ONLY if the car has come fully to a stop, otherwise it stays in 2nd and again rides the clutch getting you moving.

It's not perfect by any means....but it is good....and fun.

The Good

In the higher shift modes (S5 in particular) with a heavy foot will give you such a rush. The upshifts and downshifts are flawless. This is what SMG is all about. It's definitely designed for the track and fast, hard cornering driving. I can't wait to test it out on the track. The paddles feel perfect, you concentrate on the turns, and the shifts come naturally....all without your hands leaving the steering wheel.

The Ugly

Not really much here. The auto modes are OK. A1 with 2nd gear starts are slow. A4 and A5 don't shift unless the car is above 5000 rpm. Downshifts take forever in A1, A2, A3. My wife drove in A3 and loved it. A3 is probably the best overall auto mode. The shifts come unexpectedly and the power drops off for the shifts. When the car shifts in auto, the best description is the feeling of a car when you hit the rev limiter...all of a sudden, the car seems to stall, the shift is made, and the power is back up. Definitely not your torque converter automatic.

Finally

I love SMG. It takes some getting used to and I'm still learning. It has its good points and bad points. The system is far from perfect but it's pretty close. On the track it's probably almost perfect. Around town, it's fine.

The feeling of SMG is almost identical to a manual transmission. You can actually feel the clutch engaging when you start off except your left foot didn't do it. It does engage perfectly, everytime....something I never been able to do in 36 years.

Thanks for reading my ramblings...ultimately, it's the individual's choice: manual tranny or SMG. For me, it'll be SMG.


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  #2  
Old 01-03-2002, 12:18 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Wow. Great write-up.

I too am a techno geek and I am dying for SMG II on my next new BMW. I want it for the track, and for the traffic. I also want it because it sounds fun!

Understanding that there is still a clutch involved... can it shift as smoothly as a slushbox, or is there still a gap (or dead period) when the clutch is taken in?

Maybe I can ask it better... if your wife was blindfolded, could she tell it was SMG II over Steptronic, or are they pretty close on full AUTO mode?

Enjoy!
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2002, 12:27 AM
Imola Ed Imola Ed is offline
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Excellent review!

Thanks! Hearing raves about SMG keeps putting me on the fence. Damn! I keep changing my mind. I hate BMW for this!
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2002, 01:09 AM
Jim in Oregon Jim in Oregon is offline
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In auto mode:

The length of time to shift is depended upon throttle position and speed. If you barely give it throttle it will be slow shifting...power drop, clutch in, shift, clutch out, power back. Very abrupt...like a very bad torque converter auto. Definitely not steptronic.

If you increase pedal position and speed, the whole shifting process is smooth, just like steptronic.

The S versions are identical to the auto, the only difference is YOU get to choose when to make the shifts.
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2002, 01:17 AM
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Kaz Kaz is offline
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Thanks for the writeup, JIO.

I saw my first SMGII ///M3 (there was also a 'used' Imola 6MT on the lot) at one of the local dealers earlier today (prominently displayed at the entrance to the showroom with a +$15,000 sticker in the window; still, I guarantee it will be gone next week the way bimmers sell here), and the floorshifter area and paddles are definitely more subtle in person compared to the way they scream "I AM SMGII!" in photographs. In fact, I had to look for a few seconds to even see the paddles; my eye kept falling to the signal stalk. Anyhow...

I think a test drive now, at least at this dealer, woulda been out of the question, but after all I've read to date, it's definitely something I'd like to try before my next purchase. I'm in the "torcons-suck" camp more than anything else, with the "shift-it-yourself" a very close second (i.e. I would consider a clutchpacked CVT but not a 'shift-it-'yourself'' slushbox), and so far it sounds like something I would really like.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-2002, 06:26 AM
Chipster Chipster is offline
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KAZ,

Which dealer has the car on display?
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2002, 07:05 AM
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Re: Life with SMG after 750 miles....

Quote:
Originally posted by Jim in Oregon


I love SMG. It takes some getting used to and I'm still learning. It has its good points and bad points. The system is far from perfect but it's pretty close. On the track it's probably almost perfect. Around town, it's fine.


How is it in heavy traffic, or parallel parking, or on steep hills? I've heard that the computer clutch is not so good in these situations, but I'd be interested in your first hand experiences.
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  #8  
Old 01-03-2002, 08:55 AM
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LilEccentricJ LilEccentricJ is offline
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Please excuse me this morning… I’m in rare form, blurred vision, a headache and I have a meeting to get ready for that I am not looking forward to.

On the 6sp or SMGII vote, well… I would like to now change my vote to 6sp. Don’t get me wrong, Jim, that was a great write-up and you didn’t dissuade me by your presentation of the system. It sounds like it does exactly what it was designed to do. I am just reminded at how pissed off I get when computers try to think for me. And if it was up to me to “learn” how the system shifted under all conditions so that it would “act” consistent then I might as well just get a 6sp and work the clutch. At least that way, It would be my fault for bad inconsistent shifts… not the computer.

Seriously, thank you for the write-up… You potentially saved me money and aggravation sometime in the future.
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2002, 10:17 AM
jeffxjet jeffxjet is offline
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I agree with LilE...I like the concept of SMG and think it would be a cool gee-whiz toy, and perfectly suited for track driving. I, however, have never been on a track(and if anyone lives near Dallas is going and wants to invite me along I'll be more than happy to go and bring my car) and don't plan on doing much track driving over the life of the car. Therefore, the SMG would not be perfect for me and I would also get the 6sp for around town driving. Just my .02 Good write up though Jim, thanks for the 411.
Jeff
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  #10  
Old 01-03-2002, 10:31 AM
Akakubi Akakubi is offline
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Jim, great review....

Can't wait to see it run on the track...
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  #11  
Old 01-03-2002, 11:06 AM
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Kaz Kaz is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chipster
KAZ,

Which dealer has the car on display?
This was at Irvine BMW. I was only there because I had dinner across the street.
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  #12  
Old 07-01-2005, 06:24 PM
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gbelton gbelton is offline
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Thumbs up If I Were SMG III

Hey Bmer Friends:

I have jump right out of 6MT to SMG II and I cannot wait for SMG III. I have also drivent the Audi DSG and I would agree that the automode is much better, though I rarely drive in this mode.

SMG II does have it quirks but nothing that we haven't all experienced in a 5MT or 6MT; HELLO. Having the computer work for you, with you is a good thing and I can truly appreciate those who feel they'd rather loose control themselves or what have you BUT...

...We allow the computer (have no choice), to manage many of the luxuries we enjoy today, shall I name a few... DSC, DTC, ATC, EDC, and so on... You all know the list and I don't have to go through them all. It is about personal taste and I have a taste for SMG II.

Now if I were SMG III I would be a kick ass M6 enjoying the pleasure of the true driving machine.

Thanks for listening... Oh, I drive 645Cic SMG 05'

-Gman
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  #13  
Old 07-01-2005, 10:04 PM
gmlav8r gmlav8r is offline
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I'm a M3 SMG Luver now. The only problem I had with it at a track was that I would instinctively forget to down shift. I was thinking I was in an AUTO. My Brain: No Clutch Pedal = Automatic Transmission. Not anymore!!!
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  #14  
Old 07-02-2005, 12:50 PM
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tierfreund tierfreund is offline
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You´re experience is an exact mirror of my observations. After 60K miles I loved my SMG dearly.
Unfortunately SMG is not (yet) available on the E90 I have on order.
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