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Hi all! Just installed the M3 steering with paddle shifters yesterday. Yup, this is the same part as the one on a SMG-equipped M3. =)

First a little bit of background. What I had before was the "plain" M3 steering wheel, which was IMHO way better than the hard plastic 4-spoke stock one which I had previously. Also found the thickness of it lacking...

I tend to use Steptronic heavily even though the upshifts are slightly slower than in S-D, as I prefer a manual control of the gear-change, despite the learning feature of the auto-box. As such, I would say typically my modes of driving the car Step/S-D/D would be 80/15/5. But reading of Ferrari's F1 and Porsche's Tiptronic systems set me wonder if there's a way to change gears with both hands remaining on the steering wheel.

Which is why when I first read about the cracking piece of kit called SMG, I was naturally intrigued and wonder if it can be retrofitted onto my '00 328i. Alas, it was only an option on '02 325i/Ci and above (I think!)... :(

Unknown to me, Vincent (VPWSEAH on this forum and Alpina.nut here!) had somehow experimented and successfully retrofitted the wheel to enable the paddles to complement* the gear stick in Step mode. This is done via adding and altering some circuits inside (not sure about this actually...heh)

When the install was finally completed, I can't help but grin at the sight of this (can't really blame me!): :D



I dint know there was more to come... much more! Initially, we tested the paddle operations in confines of the CP and everything was working fine. But before I get onto the good part, here's an explanation of how the paddles work...

The paddles are labelled "-" on the LHS and "+" on the RHS. They are located directly behind the wheel and will rotate "along" with it when taking a corner. The light and wiper stalks are not obstructed by them btw.

The paddles will work only when the gearstick is nudged to the left, ie. S-D. Once in S-D, pull the "+" (a very slight action, as the movement of the paddles is at most 3mm at the tip) and it will go to the appropriate gear selection. Gear-change time is unchanged. As you probably can guess "-" drops a gear down as well. "R/N/P" are still selected via the gearstick. Now that we've got that out of the way...

Vincent asked whether there was any twisty routes nearby and I was quick to suggest Mount Faber and South Bouna Vista Road. Once on the opened road, even before reaching there, I was already playing around with the system.

IT BLOODY ROCKS!!! Now I can imagine myself being JPM or pretend I'm driving the M3! LOL... Imagine yourself driving down a straight doing 140kph in 4th. A corner looms ahead, step on the brakes drop the speed to 50 and click "-" twice in quick succesion. You're in 2nd and take the corner thru' the racing line... feed power through the bend (which haven't straighten out yet) and then upshift when the rev hits 6k... when the wheel is still being rotated. Well the above was just what I did a couple of times yesterday!

As Vincent said, the grin factor is a definite 11 (outta scale of 10!) and I can see the merits of the system. As I mentioned above, dropping 2 (or even 3) gears using the paddles is definitely easier/quicker than nudging the gearstick which has a long "throw" (can this be used for a auto stick? :p). Also it enables your hands to be on the wheels 100% of the time, so that you still retain steering feel and situational awareness of what the car is doing at THAT moment. Not to mention the pure "coolness" factor (okay, the purists would probably scoff at this, but what the heck!) of the whole thing...

At low speed turning, when the wheel is going to be rotated more than 120 deg, and if a gear-change is to be executed, the hands may not be able to reach behind and furthermore, the driver may be confused. But don't fret, the gearstick will come in handy now...

Bigger pic of the above and one more here.

I already enjoy my machine very much as it is... when I first got the keys 1.5 years ago... when I install my first mod... when I got the 18" M3s... it never fails to amaze me that even now, every single morning/evening, I so absolutely LOOK FORWARD to seeing and getting behind the wheel of my ride. And I can assure you that this paddle-shift retrofit will easily add to the driving pleasure by no small amount... :))

Cheers and thanks for reading! =)

*: For my case, "replace" is more suitable here! :p
 

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dude, something must have happened during the install

cuz your steering wheel is on the wrong side of teh car now.:lmao: ha, i know, lame joke... looks great
 

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Thanks Axl for the posting. ;)

A few interesting notes about working on a RHD, Euro E46.

1) The direction for shifting D to S-D is still the SAME! :yikes: But of course the bezel indicators are on the appropriate side.

2) There is a storage compartment under the headlight controls. I think this is standard on Euro models. I kinda like it. Why BMWNA does not include this? :dunno:

3) The manual steering wheel telescoping adjuster has a rubber sealing. Not sure if I am making sense here. On our US models, there is *nothing* between the lever and the lower steering column trim. That means when you lower the lever, you can stick a finger into the column trim. Now, you might ask, why would anyone do that? Cos there are *wires* there. Cutting some of them might disable the airbag system. Ok, I am letting out too much info here.:eek: But on this Euro model, there is a rubber sealing to prevent one from sticking a finger into the trim. There is also a rubber seal between this lower steering column trim and the foot well. Am I confusing everyone again? :( Will take pics if possible...

:)
 

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VinceTopasBlau3 said:

2) There is a storage compartment under the headlight controls. I think this is standard on Euro models. I kinda like it. Why BMWNA does not include this? :dunno:
Because our dashboards have to be sufficiently padded due to the tendency of Americans not to wear seatbelts :thumbdwn:
 

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nate328Ci said:


Because our dashboards have to be sufficiently padded due to the tendency of Americans not to wear seatbelts :thumbdwn:
This is correct. Take a look at Propellerhead's E39 euro dash retrofit to see this difference.
 

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I rented an e46 in Germany and liked that little comparment-- I think they call it a "Driver's side glove compartmnet" in the ETK. I sense another mod coming on... It looks like you cna retrofit it if you want but you'll have to cut into your dash.-- I wouldn't want to screw that up since the dash is all 1 peice (all of the parts that have the textured rough feel) so you'd have to replace the whole thing if you messed it up.:)
 

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Hmm...well, I like it but probably not to the extent of retrofitting one. You're right. One probably needs to cut into the dash. Besides, more moving parts might result in rattlings. :eek:

robg said:
I rented an e46 in Germany and liked that little comparment-- I think they call it a "Driver's side glove compartmnet" in the ETK. I sense another mod coming on... It looks like you cna retrofit it if you want but you'll have to cut into your dash.-- I wouldn't want to screw that up since the dash is all 1 peice (all of the parts that have the textured rough feel) so you'd have to replace the whole thing if you messed it up.:)
 

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Ah ha! Another SMG victim ! :D

Great write-up Axl.

As for the driver's side glove box, it sits very tight, so there's no room for rattles there. I find it very useful though, keeping my digital camera in it :)
 

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Ha! There you are ! :D

Hmm..you are getting me thinking to about the storage again.

Btw, I am planning to retrofit "matt graphite" interior trim. I realised that this trim is stock on some euro 318s or 320s. The only picture I have seen is in the parts accessories catalog on pg 50, picture 4. And I saw one E46 in parking lot today with the trim too. Like it very much. :) Have you come across any pictures?

Alex Baumann said:
Ah ha! Another SMG victim ! :D

Great write-up Axl.

As for the driver's side glove box, it sits very tight, so there's no room for rattles there. I find it very useful though, keeping my digital camera in it :)
 

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VinceTopasBlau3 said:
Have you come across any pictures?
Asking Alex da Picman for pix ? :D You'll get them soon :D

BTW, I drove by the dealer today, parked my car, got out and there was a brand new black B3 cab in front of me (no plates), drooled all over of course :)

*sigh*
 

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How much would you sell your old M3 wheel for? :)
 

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I am counting on you, Super Picman! :D I already have the part numbers for graphite matt. Just waiting to order them.

No need to "sigh" over the B3. Ask for keys and take it out for another day. ;) This time you probably won't come back with it. :lmao:

Wait a minute.. :confused: What do you mean you "drove by the dealer"? :p Is it intentional or unintentional? :D

Alex Baumann said:


Asking Alex da Picman for pix ? :D You'll get them soon :D

BTW, I drove by the dealer today, parked my car, got out and there was a brand new black B3 cab in front of me (no plates), drooled all over of course :)

*sigh*
 

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VinceTopasBlau3 said:
Wait a minute.. :confused: What do you mean you "drove by the dealer"? :p Is it intentional or unintentional? :D
just needed the new price lists ;) They have new prices since last week.

BTW, again, there's no facelift for coupe and cabriolet.
 

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Hey axl,

Nick got there first, but I would be VERY interested in your old m3 wheel too. If not, ill prob do the retrofit as well.
 

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Vince,

The only quality issue ive had with my car relates to that rubber seal you mension. The bloody thing keeps falling off after a few adjustments of the wheel. It is strange you dont get it in the US.
 

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ChetG said:
The bloody thing keeps falling off after a few adjustments of the wheel.
Exactly why we wouldn't get it. I can hear the whiners now. :D
 

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hi guys

i am new
I am looking to install the F1 switch shift gear change system, where can I get it? what is SMG and SSG?

need help plz

thanks
 
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