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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Finally got my 330CI SMG - Review Added

I finally got my 330CI SMG two weeks after the original scheduled delivery date. I got it last Tuesday. Since I know the post is worthless without pics I waited until I was able to get a couple of coats of Zaino on before taking pics.

I love the SMG. I know it seems to have a bad rep in the press but for my needs its perfect. Driving in traffic is no longer a chore and I almost find myself looking for excuses to downshit since it is so easy. Cruising along in 6th, 3 clicks and 1 second later you are in 3rd and around the car in front. I dont think I could ever go back to a regular manual.

Anyway enough rambling. Here are a few pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
a couple more

a couple more pics
 

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Ex-Dictator
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Congrats Ivan ! :thumbup:

I think this is the first (non-M) E46 with SMG here on the board :D
 

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Smg

ivan308 said:
I finally got my 330CI SMG two weeks after the original scheduled delivery date. I got it last Tuesday. Since I know the post is worthless without pics I waited until I was able to get a couple of coats of Zaino on before taking pics.

I love the SMG. I know it seems to have a bad rep in the press but for my needs its perfect. Driving in traffic is no longer a chore and I almost find myself looking for excuses to downshit since it is so easy. Cruising along in 6th, 3 clicks and 1 second later you are in 3rd and around the car in front. I dont think I could ever go back to a regular manual.

Anyway enough rambling. Here are a few pics.

Congratulations on your new car! I am very curious about the SMG feature and would love to hear a full review after you've had some more time behind the wheel. Specifically regarding how it is in "auto" mode and how often are you really using it in manual. I have a 330 i with step and even though I like to downshift I find myself keeping it in sport auto mode 99% of the time just out of either laziness or habit. It almost seems a bit redundant to downshift with the lever when all I have to do is mash down on the gas.
 

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That's really cool lookin' ..... Congrats!!!

Glad you are finally able to enjoy it after those inordinate delays ... Did they tell you why it was not getting released from the VPC? Anyway, have fun driving.
 

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topspin627 said:
Specifically regarding how it is in "auto" mode and how often are you really using it in manual.
I've had an SMG for about 1 month now and trust me you won't want to be in auto mode unless you're in stop and go traffic or need to take a phone call. Once you get used to it you wont want to use auto ever.
 

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Chocaine said:
I've had an SMG for about 1 month now and trust me you won't want to be in auto mode unless you're in stop and go traffic or need to take a phone call. Once you get used to it you wont want to use auto ever.

I read that there is a difference between the smg systems in the M and other bmws. Do you find it 'lurchy" in auto or you just don't use it. I do mostly city type driving but wanted a bit more involvement than the step and thought that this might be a good alternative. What type of driving do you do? And how many miles do you put on a year. I 'm at about 15k.
 

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Chocaine said:
I've had an SMG for about 1 month now and trust me you won't want to be in auto mode unless you're in stop and go traffic or need to take a phone call. Once you get used to it you wont want to use auto ever.
Also, is it comfortable to use the paddles or do you mostly find you use the 'stick'?
 

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I'm not even past break-in yet but it can definitely be lurchy if you have sport off and don't lift the throttle. With sport on and a small lift you get fast shifts witrh a small jerk which I don't mind. But I could see how that if you are expecting a perfectly smooth automatic you would be dissapointed. Since you do mostly city driving I would have to say do a long test drive before making a decision because you could really end up not liking it and thereby be throwing away thousands of dollars. I almost always use the paddles and only use the stick when the paddles are in a weird position. They are so much fun to use, I just wish they were like the M3's(left is down and right is up) instead being push is down and pulll is up. For me and the driving I do(75% highway/little traffic) SMG is great, but definitely arrange a test drive if you are unsure.

Ivan: great looking car, any other thoughts on the transmission or car itself?
 

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Chocaine said:
I'm not even past break-in yet but it can definitely be lurchy if you have sport off and don't lift the throttle. With sport on and a small lift you get fast shifts witrh a small jerk which I don't mind. But I could see how that if you are expecting a perfectly smooth automatic you would be dissapointed. Since you do mostly city driving I would have to say do a long test drive before making a decision because you could really end up not liking it and thereby be throwing away thousands of dollars. I almost always use the paddles and only use the stick when the paddles are in a weird position. They are so much fun to use, I just wish they were like the M3's(left is down and right is up) instead being push is down and pulll is up. For me and the driving I do(75% highway/little traffic) SMG is great, but definitely arrange a test drive if you are unsure.

Ivan: great looking car, any other thoughts on the transmission or car itself?
Thanks for the input. I will try to take a long test drive as you suggest. I'm not sure how often the dealers get smg cars in for stock but I'll be on the lookout. Interesting that BMW is now offering the ZHP on the coupes but that ZHP does not offer SMG as an option. Only Auto or manual.
 

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ivan308 - very nice looking car !

I noticed from your photos that the rear bumper dosen't have the black stripe across the lower part. Did you have it painted to match, or are they coming from the factory that way now? If you had it done, how much did it run?
 

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Great looking car :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:


Quick question for the SMG'ers. I have yet to drive one, and understand how it works, but have some quick questions about it.

1 - At a stop, the car can drift with your foot off the gas. When the car is in motion, and you take your foot off the gas, does the engine still stay engaged? Are you able to use your engine to brake? While in motion, when is the engine not engaged (when the brake is applied?)?

2 - Many times in snow/ice situations, Ive used 2nd gear to get out of a parking space. Is there a way to start the car in 2nd as opposed to 1st?

3 - If you are getting in or out of a parking spot on a hill and you need to hold your position without drifting back, can you use both the gas and brake (lightly of course) to avoid drifting?



TIA :D
 

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I am planning on purchasing the 330ci in a couple of months, and am torn about what transmission I should order. Up to this point, all of my cars have been automatic. My experience in driving a manual is limited to those racing games at video arcades!

The difference in pricing between Steptronic and SMG is $250, which is pretty much negligible with a purchase this large. The SMG looks like it would be fun, but I probably would use the manual feature less than 20% of the time. If I predominately will be using the automatic features of whichever transmission I choose, would I be happier with a Steptronic or SMG? I am somewhat concerned about how the SMG drives -- I certainly don't want to be driving a jerky car 80% of the time.

Also, I realize the best thing to do is take a test drive. I am not entirely sure my dealership will even have an SMG to test, so I hope those of you here can provide some advice. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Answers

Ok I will do my best to answer all the questions with what I have experienced so far. Please note that I have only had the car for a week and it only has 300 miles so I am still running it in and doing my best to keep the revs under 4500rpm. At this point I have not experienced how the SMG shifts at WOW (Wide Open Throttle) most of the time shifting has occurred between 3000 and 4500+ rpm.

Ok first of all my impressions on auto mode. If you drive the car like you drive a regular automatic/steptronic upshifts will be slightly jerky especially the 1-2 shift, getting less jerky as you go from 2-3 3-4 etc. Basically imagine the way shifts felt the first time you drove a manual.
However if you learn to anticipate the shift and slightly lift off the throttle just before the shift it is much smoother. It also seems that when you lift off the throttle it will stimulate the SMG to perform an upshift. Downshifts on the other hand are smooooooothe, even smoother than a steptronic. If you go to WOT while in auto mode the car will downshift to which ever gear will give you maximum acceleration. I found this out on the highway when I was in 6th and floored it. In the blink of an eye it had downshifted to third and the revs had jumped to 5000. Needless to say I got off the throttle real quick. To summaries if you just want to mindlessly drive auto mode will be jerky however if you are willing to participate in the process it is possible to smooth things out quite considerably. Auto mode is great in heavy stop and go traffic

Next impressions of manual mode. This mode can also be jerky if you do not lift throttle during a shift. It is obviously easier to time the throttle lift in this mode since you are executing the shift. Even with only a weeks worth of seat time I have been able to get most shifts to the point where whey are barely perceptible to the passenger. 1-2 is still going to take a little more practice but all the rest are at least as good as a steptronic. Again downshifts are like butter. In manual mode when coming to a stop of slowing down you can either downshift yourself or you can just leave it and it will downshift for you as your speed drops. It downshifts only when appropriate ie: when you get down to a speed such that if you were to get back on the throttle the revs would be too low and the car would lug. When you come to a complete stop it will shift into first

So far I find myself in manual mode about 85% of the time. To those of you with steptronics that are considering the switch I think you will find yourself in manual mode more than you expect. With a step manual mode is kind a blah. Driving step in manual is not really that much better that a step in sport auto mode (I had a 528i step for a couple of years) Manual mode in the SMG is fun. Because of the lousy traffic that we have here in South Florida I was originally going to get another steptronic until I found out about the SMG. The SMG is the perfect compromise for me. All the fun of a manual without a clutch pedal.

At this point there is not that big a difference between sport and regular mode but then again I am still babying the car. The shifts in sport mode are a little quicker and in auto mode it holds the gear a little longer. So far I find myself preferring sport mode more than regular mode. You have to enable sport mode each time you start the car. Wonder how long before someone comes out with a hack to keep sport mode enabled as the default.

As far as the paddles I think this arrangement ie: being able to use either paddle to upshift or downshift is better than the arrangement in the M3 where one paddle upshifts and the other down shifts. With this arrangement it allows me to change gears up or down with either hand so even while on the phone or drinking the car can be driven in manual mode. Also should the need arise to change gear in the middle of a corner there is no need to worry about which paddle is which. Pull = upshift Push=downshift ...simple.

Couple of other comments.
As someone mentioned they have never drive a stick only racing games at arcades. The SMG is exactly like driving one of those arcade games.
The other thing is I find myself using 6th gear a lot more on this car than I did on the Boxster. On the Boxster and I am sure those with regular transmissions don’t get into 6th that often and spend more time in 5th or 4th due to the fact that since 6th is an overdrive acceleration in 6th at lower speeds is sluggish at best. With the SMG because it is so easy to change down I find myself in 6th gear even around town knowing that with a few clicks I can be in 3rd or 4th should I desire.
I know there is a lot of comparison between the SMG in the E46/Z4’s and the SMGII that is in the M3. Giving the M3 its due the SMGII will shift faster and has more modes to select from however the SMG in the E46/Z4’s is no slouch. The E46 SMG is a system supplied by Magneti/Marrelli who also supplies a similar (possibly the same system) to Ferrari, Maseratti and Alpha Romeo. According to what information that I have been able to find the E46 SMG shifts just as quickly (150ms) as the systems in the Ferrari 360 and even in the new Enzo. Not bad company to be in .

Now I will try and answer some specific questions:
Yes you can use the engine to engine brake. The engine/clutch is not disengaged until you come to a complete stop. You maintain full control just like in a manual

Yes can start off in 2nd should you wish

On a slight grade it is possible to hold the car in position however you have to continuously go on and off throttle almost rocking the car in place. On throttle the car will move forward, off throttle it will roll back. The system is incredibly sensitive to throttle inputs. When at a stop the slightest throttle input will get the car moving forward with zero lag time. Not quite sure how the system monitors clutch disengagement but it feels like it has the ability to hold the clutch a fraction of an inch off the pressure plate because take up is instantaneous. Anything more than a slight grade and the hand brake is required. Also not sure how good it is for clutch life expectancy to do the rocking thing.


Yes the back strip I had custom painted. $120


Hopefully this long post answers most questions however if there are more please feel free to ask.
 

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ivan308 said:
Now I will try and answer some specific questions:
Yes you can use the engine to engine brake. The engine/clutch is not disengaged until you come to a complete stop. You maintain full control just like in a manual

So if you are at speed (lets just say 40 mph or so) and your rolling up to a light in a couple hundred feet, when your press the brake, the engine is still engaged :dunno: ? I would hope that the engine would stay engaged when you let off the gas, but would disengage at some point when the brake is applied over the course of the 40-0 mph.
 

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i test drove a Z4 3.0 SMG few months back. Sport mode and aggressive driving are jerky, but if you drive conservatively, it's very smooth. I like how it always rev match every shift.
 

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Regarding starting on an incline, my M3 allows you to tell it you are starting on an incline by pulling the '-' lever and holding for 2 secs. It then increases the RPM and allows the car to stay still on an incline with no brake and no rolling for a couple seconds while you transition from brake to gas. Doesn't the SMG on the 330 have a similar feature?
 

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SMG- Ivan

Great data on SMG. You mention that Step was a bit boring and I agree. How and why do you feel that SMG is more involving? Do you feel it will grow "old" and you will just put it in 'auto' mode and in effect have a less efficient auto. I really am considering this option and appreciate that there are only a few non M smgs out there.
 

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topspin 627 - Driving a SMG is more comparable to driving a manual than a step. Yes in a step in 'manual mode' you have some control over which gear the car is in however there is a delay between when you tell it to shift and it actually shifts plus there is the general slushiness (for a better) of the control and interaction- I guess that is why we call it a slush box.
I guess you need to consider why you are considering purchasing an automatic. If it is because you are lazy and don’t have real interest in having control of the car and are buying a BMW just because it is a BMW then a step is for you (all said tongue in cheek). If however you are buying the car because it is the Ultimate DRIVING Machine and have an interest in performance or tracktime/racing and the main reason you are considering an auto is because of sucky commute traffic then I believe the SMG is a much better choice.
I will go out on a limb and say in the next couple of years that anybody that visits these boards (BMW enthusiasts) that would normally have considered an automatic will opt for the SMG instead.

CBlkM3 - Hill assist is only a feature on the M3 SMGII not on the E46/Z4 SMG

ajt819 - After your question I did some more testing on your coast down situation. I am unable to tell what the car does when the brake is applied during coast down however I believe that the clutch stays engaged because as I said when the rpms drop too low it will downshift automatically and you can see and feel the gear change. Why would you want the clutch to be disengaged ? From what I remember of driving classes you never want to coast with the car in neutral/clutch disengage because at that point you do not have full control of the vehicle ?
 
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