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Steptronic Transmission

3127 Views 29 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  jetstream23
Well, just picked me up a 2002 330xi which is an automatic and has the steptronic transmission. I never used the steptronic before, so looking for some guidance. I also never drove a manual before.

Thoughts appreciated..

Mike
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Did you get an owner's manual? Should be plenty of info there. If not, you can get a pdf for your car on the BMW NA site via the Owner's Circle area.

Welcome to the fest....:)
Honestly, the steptronic is pretty boring compared to manual, but it's not bad as far as slushboxes go.

I've driven manuals all my life, until I got my 530iA 3 years ago. I got the Steptronic becuase I was driving in stop-go traffic more frequently. I thought the sport manual mode would be a reasonable substitute, but it's not even close. I even got the Dinan transmission software to make it more responsive and shift at higher rev points, but it still never came close to the experience and response of driving a manual. In the end I hardly ever used the manual shift mode, although I always use the Sport mode.

It'll be a moot point for me soon once my M3 arrives. Then I'll be learning to get comfortable with SMG II.

Bottom line is, it's a good GM transmission, but it's still a an Auto. Don't expect anything more than that.
fullcombat said:
Well, just picked me up a 2002 330xi which is an automatic and has the steptronic transmission. I never used the steptronic before, so looking for some guidance. I also never drove a manual before.

Thoughts appreciated..

Mike
Thanks guys for the feedback. I do have the owners manual and it does make reference to this, but at first glace it did not get into a lot of detail on its use.

This is a great forum - lots of great information. :thumbup:

Regards,

Mike
I absolutely love my Steptronic, and I think it's a blast. The only thing I would say is: Don't be afraid to use it! i.e. instead of what most people do (simply put it in drive and don't touch it until parking), don't be afraid to use the manual/sport shift mode and go back and forth from right to left. I love sport mode, but find myself manually ticking up or down quite frequently. Also a neat trick I learned in sport mode is to quickly tap on the accelerator (and let go) to downshift, without even touching the shift knob. The gear will hold until you hit the accelerator again and it needs to upshift. Really cool; try it!

--J.
fullcombat said:
Well, just picked me up a 2002 330xi which is an automatic and has the steptronic transmission. I never used the steptronic before, so looking for some guidance. I also never drove a manual before.

Thoughts appreciated..

Mike
I'm with him.....it aint a manual, but it's a lot of fun. You can "double clutch" once you get the hang of it.

Also - you have a 330, so I dont think you have a "GM" tranz....

.
JonathanIT said:
I absolutely love my Steptronic, and I think it's a blast. The only thing I would say is: Don't be afraid to use it! i.e. instead of what most people do (simply put it in drive and don't touch it until parking), don't be afraid to use the manual/sport shift mode and go back and forth from right to left. I love sport mode, but find myself manually ticking up or down quite frequently. Also a neat trick I learned in sport mode is to quickly tap on the accelerator (and let go) to downshift, without even touching the shift knob. The gear will hold until you hit the accelerator again and it needs to upshift. Really cool; try it!

--J.
Also another neat trick with the Steps... To get the fastest acceleration possible (somebody correct me if I'm wrong), put the car into 1st gear from a stop. Now you don't need to touch the shifter at all, just keep accelearting. Right before the car hits redline it will upshift automatically. This way you get to stretch the max RPMs at each gear.

And if you're not used to choosing your own gears, only go into first from a stop - you should never really downshift into 1st while moving (BMW prefers to start in 2nd gear if you notice). It's also a great thing to have if you see a cop and want to slow down without slamming the brakes and calling attentiont oyourself. Just tap down a gear or two and the car's transmission will pull you slower.

Enjoy it - I know you will.
That makes me so mad :mad: !! i hate it when cops ruin a perfectly good drive. really kills the mood.
BMW4phillygirl said:
That copper ruined a perfectly good drive down PCH tonight... :(
I agree the Step isn't bad. In manual mode its fun to cruise around in 3rd gear around 3500 rpm's with the windows down and the stereo off listening to the ZHP exhaust sing to you. Then if you happen to have a friend nodding off in the passenger seat just give the accelerator a quick pop and watch him get whiplash !
I think all the E39/E46 steptronics are GM. But that's a good thing because they are very good transmissions.

Nevetheless, I'll never get a step again. It was just too boring after driving manuals for so long.
Frank Rizzo said:
I'm with him.....it aint a manual, but it's a lot of fun. You can "double clutch" once you get the hang of it.

Also - you have a 330, so I dont think you have a "GM" tranz....

.
You guys are about half-right. All the AWD E46's use GM's. The 325/330 RWD step all are ZF trannies, starting around 2001. I believe the 323/328 RWD used GM's also I believe.
dwette said:
I think all the E39/E46 steptronics are GM. But that's a good thing because they are very good transmissions.

Nevetheless, I'll never get a step again. It was just too boring after driving manuals for so long.
Thanks again all...some good interaction and feedback here. For someone who never really drove manual before, it will take a little getting used to on when to shift..but I'll get the hang of it...

Mike
Mike -

I drove a manual from 1969 until 2002, but now we live in the hills, and with traffic what it is, an automatic is more practical.

While the Steptronic is not even close to what you'd experience with a manual transmission, I like it...and I use its three modes dependng on the circumstances. D for normal stuff, SD keeps me from running away going downhill (having to use the brakes), and 'manual' mode just for fun.

Enjoy your car.
Hey Jonathan, I agree! I use the sport mode in tight freeway traffic (!) because I like to stay right on the bumper of that guy in front of me so no one can cut in. It helps to have that little extra bit of pop in the gas pedal. Also love dropping down from 5 to 4 for the same reason when I just need to jam. It's not often that I will just use "D", unless the Mrs. is along :angel:
JonathanIT said:
I absolutely love my Steptronic, and I think it's a blast. The only thing I would say is: Don't be afraid to use it! i.e. instead of what most people do (simply put it in drive and don't touch it until parking), don't be afraid to use the manual/sport shift mode and go back and forth from right to left. I love sport mode, but find myself manually ticking up or down quite frequently. Also a neat trick I learned in sport mode is to quickly tap on the accelerator (and let go) to downshift, without even touching the shift knob. The gear will hold until you hit the accelerator again and it needs to upshift. Really cool; try it!

--J.
the step is pretty good for stop and go traffic...still nothing compared to a manual. am used to driving my dad's m3 roadster once and awhile with its manual transmission...then my 325 with step is just 'eh..'' compared to it...but it handles a little better than his :) still wish i had a clutch though... :confused:
this might be a dumb question...what exactly is sport mode? i have the steptronic too...is it another term for putting it in the steptronic mode?
BMW4phillygirl said:
I have an '01, and my steptronic is backwards compared to yours. In my car, you push forward to go up, and pull backwards to go down. In '02's and later, you pull back to go up and push forward to go down... it's really easy though, if you want to drive in manual, but it hardly feels anything close to MT. I've done it maybe twice in my car. But, I always drive in sport mode. You just have to get used to pulling the shift gear out of sport when you're putting the car in park and turning off the ignition...
I guess you are calling it that... "sport mode" to me is when you flick the shift lever to the left and leave it, letting the transmission shift by itself ("s/m" comes up on the transmission readout). Then, pushing it up or down changes it to "manual" mode until it is flicked back to the right (to "Drive").

cdebnil said:
this might be a dumb question...what exactly is sport mode? i have the steptronic too...is it another term for putting it in the steptronic mode?
icemanjs4 said:
And if you're not used to choosing your own gears, only go into first from a stop - you should never really downshift into 1st while moving (BMW prefers to start in 2nd gear if you notice).
I have not heard this before... can you elaborate and tell me why you should never "downshift into 1st while moving?" I do it frequently. :dunno:

--J.
can't get hang of manual...yet

Like the original poster of this thread, I've been driving automatics all of my life and am currently trying to learn the manual mode on my Steptronic.

I still can't master when to shift. From what I understand, you're supposed to upshift (i.e. M1-->M2-->M3-->M4) based on how the engine sounds. But it sounds like I'm getting too much revs for the gear that I'm in. And just so I'm clear on the lingo, one "downshifts" (i.e. M3-->2-->1) whenever one needs to accelerate like a bat-out-of-hell, right?

I apologize for the most rudimentary nature of this question; but I want to get the most out of my ZHP and mastering the manual Step, I've been told, is the way to go.

I would appreciate any advice or insights.

Thanks in advance.

Attachments

Ok guys here's a quick primer on shifting basics. For normal accelearation (feel free to chime in and correct me people), you want to accelerate to roughly 3000 RPMs before you upshift. If you go much past 3000, the engine will get louder, the car will pull hard, and you will use up a lot of gas. This is especially true if you ARENT accelerating hard, but rather doing a gradual acceleration. You don't want to just sit there cruising at 5000 RPMS. Of course in a BMW that's often what you do if you try to shift based on sound cuz the engines are pretty quiet. If you want to accelerate faster, then you can start shifting higher in the RPMs. But don't forget, you'r probably pushing the gas pedal a lot further down, so the RPMs come at you quick. Then you can shift at 5000 RPMs or higher.

As for fist gear, its primary purpose in life is to get the car moving from a stop, or to assist you in launching with ridiculous 0-60 times. 2nd is the utility acceleration gear, and 3rd is the power gear. Downshifting: If you notice that you are at fairly low RPMS (ie less than 3K), and you downshift, the car will kind of buck suddenly unless you are giving it some gas at the time,. without applying gas (ie to accelerate quicker), the car will pull it self slower. IT will almost feel like you applied the brakes. For this reason I can't imagine ever downshifting into 1st. It would almost pull the car to a complete stop, or it would force your RPMs to go really high, forcing an upshift to 2nd moments later.

As mentioned before, for fastest acceleartion, put the car in Step Mode, downshift to 1st at a stop. When the light turns green, step on the gas hard and smooth. It will accelerate quickly all the way to redline, then automatically upshift to the next gear so as not to break the engine. You can proceed through all of the gears this way (though after 3rd gear - in this manner - you will surely be braking the law) :)

Enjoy
JonathanIT said:
II have not heard this before... can you elaborate and tell me why you should never "downshift into 1st while moving?" I do it frequently. :dunno:
--J.
The automatics are fairly different from the manuals, with different gearing and different effects when you shift. You can drop into 1st while moving with a Step (though really, keep it under 10mph if you do this) and it won't lurch as hard as you would in a manny. Also, keep in mind the Step can cruise yet be responsive without bogging the engine at a lower rpm speed than the manual (the slush). A 3.0-liter auto can be responsive from 1500 to 2000 rpm, whereas with the manual, I like to stay in the 2500 range for cruising.

I'm also not sure of the value in trying to rev-match downshift with Step. I suppose you can practice on timing it just right, but with an automatic, would you stress the tranny by trying to rev-match? When you step on the gas, you spin up the fluid and the greater the difference between flywheel speed and drivetrain speed, you get more torque multiplication acting on the gearset while it's reconfiguring itself. :dunno: The lurch from the Steptronic downshift is much more subdued than in a manny anyway.
icemanjs4 said:
As for fist gear, its primary purpose in life is to get the car moving from a stop, or to assist you in launching with ridiculous 0-60 times. 2nd is the utility acceleration gear, and 3rd is the power gear. Downshifting: If you notice that you are at fairly low RPMS (ie less than 3K), and you downshift, the car will kind of buck suddenly unless you are giving it some gas at the time,. without applying gas (ie to accelerate quicker), the car will pull it self slower. IT will almost feel like you applied the brakes. For this reason I can't imagine ever downshifting into 1st. It would almost pull the car to a complete stop, or it would force your RPMs to go really high, forcing an upshift to 2nd moments later.
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