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      06-15-2012, 12:42 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Car and Driver Article on 2012 DCT/Automatic

Repost from the F20 / European Hatchback Forum...sorry if this is a repeat.
(I posted in wrong forum)

Feb 2012 Article in Car and Driver about the 335is (2 door coupe) with the DCT was very interesting and I was wondering if any of the DCT/automatic fans had any comments. I know this is a 3-series, but there seems to be a lot more passion about the DCT and sportiness with 1-series fans. In addition, it is somewhat rare to order the manual transmission in the 335i. Seems like many 1-series drivers prefer the MT.

So...the highlights of the article...and what was interesting to me:

Page 49:
---------------
"335is test car was equipped with the optional 7-speed DCT automatic that is also offered in the M3 (and 135i). This gearbox has proven more problematic for track work than the aforementioned 335i's traditional manual."

"The steering wheel paddles sometimes did not follow through on a command."

"A transmission can't be the only culprit for a car's disappointing performance. Actually, it was the only complaint of the two drivers who drove the 335is."

"We would choose the standard manual if it were our money. And maybe that would improve the BMW's lap time. It would certainly increase the fun quotient."
-------------
The automatic/DCT seemed ok to me, although I'm more biased to the MT. But I do agree that the paddle shifters are kind of a novelty item (they certainly are in my current car and the 135i's I've test driven).

But (in regards to the article) does anyone think that the automatic/DCT does has the "fun quotient" of the MT? Car and Driver didn't really seem to like the DCT at all, both in terms of performance and the driving experience.

And for those "track people" (which I am not) even though the DCT is faster 0-60, according to Car and Driver it is slower overall around a lap, which would seem to be more important overall?

Anyway, just wanted to share...I liked the article and the opinion and comments they provided.
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      06-15-2012, 07:57 AM   #2
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I drove a M3 with DCT in a 2 day M school. It never failed to shift when I hit a paddle. I see no reason for it to make you slower on the track. I did not like it because both my cars are manuals. I was not always in the gear I wanted/needed to be in with the DCT but that happens to me some with the manual too. I tend to shift based upon what I hear and the rpm I use on the track is much higher than what I use in daily driving.

My guess is the issue was with the unfamilar test driver, not the car. But I've also read reports of DCTs doing funny things so maybe it was the programming of the transmission. DCTs are realtively new so it is credible they could act funny sometimes.

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      06-15-2012, 08:39 AM   #3
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I think that, like all (?) dual-clutch transmissions, the DCT pre-selects the next gear (up or down) based on many factors. If the pre-selected gear isn't the one that's ultimately requested by the driver (the transmission has predicted an upshift and the driver requests a downshift, for example), there can be a perceptible lag in the shift. I think this is where people start to notice misbehaving shift paddles or laggy transmission behavior, particularly in regards to downshifts. I've owned a couple cars with dual-clutch transmissions and driven many more, including BMWs, and they've all exhibited some of the same behaviors with some worse than others. Just my $.02!
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      06-15-2012, 11:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimD View Post
I drove a M3 with DCT in a 2 day M school. It never failed to shift when I hit a paddle. I see no reason for it to make you slower on the track. I did not like it because both my cars are manuals. I was not always in the gear I wanted/needed to be in with the DCT but that happens to me some with the manual too. I tend to shift based upon what I hear and the rpm I use on the track is much higher than what I use in daily driving.

My guess is the issue was with the unfamilar test driver, not the car. But I've also read reports of DCTs doing funny things so maybe it was the programming of the transmission. DCTs are realtively new so it is credible they could act funny sometimes.

Jim
It would seem that there was something wrong with that particular DCT.
C&D have reviewed other dual clutch trannies and really liked them, such as the GTI or Porsche's. So, I don't think they don't like dual clutch trannies, they just didn't like that particular DCT. Since it performed as they said, I can see why they wouldn't want it. Also, it doesn't seem to be an honest assessment on their part. As professional testers they should know that from time to time they can get a bad one. So judging the DCT based on a faulty unit doesn't impress me as a very "professional" assessment.
Just say'in.
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      06-15-2012, 11:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AW128i View Post
I think that, like all (?) dual-clutch transmissions, the DCT pre-selects the next gear (up or down) based on many factors. If the pre-selected gear isn't the one that's ultimately requested by the driver (the transmission has predicted an upshift and the driver requests a downshift, for example), there can be a perceptible lag in the shift. I think this is where people start to notice misbehaving shift paddles or laggy transmission behavior, particularly in regards to downshifts. I've owned a couple cars with dual-clutch transmissions and driven many more, including BMWs, and they've all exhibited some of the same behaviors with some worse than others. Just my $.02!
I see your point, and I agree.
In my test driving of DSG GTI's, the overall performance of the DSG is excellent. But, I too noticed that in certain circumstances the trans "logic" is not what is logical to me. This also happens with torque converter automatics that have manual mode.
I've found that to achieve best trans performance, and to be in the exact gear you want to be in, you have to drive the trans in FULL manual mode.
If you drive in auto or sport mode, and then override it from time to time with manual input, that is where the miscommunication seems to happen.
In auto mode the trans works by it's own logic mode. If you interrupt that logic with manual input there can be some odd behavior.

Maybe this happens more to drivers who come from MT preference and chose a manual capable AT. I know for me I find using the AT may be partially may fault as I need to decide if I want to do the gear selection ALL the time or just part of the time. Seems I tend to use the AT in a 'mixed' mode between auto and manual.

My next BMW is the new 335i and I chose the new 8spd sport AT.
I'm still questioning that decision, but am really intrigued by how fast and smooth this new ZF AT is, so I chose it. I'm not 100% on that decision as I keep flip flopping in my mind as to whether I will like it or not.
I still have a few weeks before it's built, so I can still change to MT.

Maybe I should go a do a couple more test drives with the sport AT and take a bit more time with it. Very rarely do I drive in heavy traffic. My commute is mostly clear traffic. So stop and go traffic isn't part of making my decision.
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      06-16-2012, 06:59 AM   #6
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If you are used to driving a manual and just jump into a DCT for a quick test drive then I can guarantee that you will not like it. You really need to learn how to use the DCT just like you learnt how to use a manual. It takes a while to get used to the DCT so unless the testers were very familiar with driving a DCT then I'm not surprised they didn't warm to it.
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      06-16-2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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I don't give C&D a lot of credibility. I can only think of one objective track performance hindrance with the DCT. The DCT will upshift at redline whether you want it to or not. It has been said that some drivers make a habit of going around a turn at redline. If that was the tester's style, he would not like the DCT. The driver should know well enough to upshift before the transmission does it for him. The gears are so closely spaced and the power band so broad that it would not impede forward motion at less than full throttle. A real pro squeezes the most out of what is there. Automotive journalists are not real pro's. They are guys who own Hondas, write well, and take instructions from editors who want to sell more magazines.

My transmission has never failed to respond to an input. Not being a track guy, I can't speak from personal experience on that, but the DCT blows everything away on the street. I drove a loaded 2011 535i M-Sport loaner with a MT-6 for 3 days. I loved everything about the car except for the MT. If you live in a city and want to be working the clutch and shift lever through traffic, be my guest.

Automotive journalists can have wildly varying opinions. Jeremy Clarkson and Auto Spies thought the 135i was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Automobile magazine thought it was an overpowered small car. Some testers think the interior trim looks cheap. What were they expecting, a 5 series?
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      06-16-2012, 12:39 PM   #8
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in ferraris you can preselect your next gear by holding the lever down - it selects it and the next time you shift, you get a direct match as opposed to up/down mixed up.

not sure if bmw has that option
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      06-16-2012, 07:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AW128i View Post
I think that, like all (?) dual-clutch transmissions, the DCT pre-selects the next gear (up or down) based on many factors. If the pre-selected gear isn't the one that's ultimately requested by the driver (the transmission has predicted an upshift and the driver requests a downshift, for example), there can be a perceptible lag in the shift. I think this is where people start to notice misbehaving shift paddles or laggy transmission behavior, particularly in regards to downshifts. I've owned a couple cars with dual-clutch transmissions and driven many more, including BMWs, and they've all exhibited some of the same behaviors with some worse than others. Just my $.02!
Thats absolutely correct, I have a DCT on (now) my wife's Golf TDI and it sometimes gets a bit confused, resulting in a about 1 sec hesitation, for the reason above!
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      06-17-2012, 12:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diver View Post
I don't give C&D a lot of credibility. I can only think of one objective track performance hindrance with the DCT. The DCT will upshift at redline whether you want it to or not. It has been said that some drivers make a habit of going around a turn at redline. If that was the tester's style, he would not like the DCT. The driver should know well enough to upshift before the transmission does it for him. The gears are so closely spaced and the power band so broad that it would not impede forward motion at less than full throttle. A real pro squeezes the most out of what is there. Automotive journalists are not real pro's. They are guys who own Hondas, write well, and take instructions from editors who want to sell more magazines.

My transmission has never failed to respond to an input. Not being a track guy, I can't speak from personal experience on that, but the DCT blows everything away on the street. I drove a loaded 2011 535i M-Sport loaner with a MT-6 for 3 days. I loved everything about the car except for the MT. If you live in a city and want to be working the clutch and shift lever through traffic, be my guest.

Automotive journalists can have wildly varying opinions. Jeremy Clarkson and Auto Spies thought the 135i was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Automobile magazine thought it was an overpowered small car. Some testers think the interior trim looks cheap. What were they expecting, a 5 series?
Automotive journalists do have varying opinions on cars, because they are car guys, and like everyone else they have their own likes and dislikes.

As far as not being "pros", I disagree. They are "professional auto testers and reviewers". That is their job, and that's why they do day in and day out.
I wouldn't confuse them with "pro" racers, because overall that's not what they are. Some of them may have been racers are various levels of expertise.
Still, they test cars for a living and drive many many more cars than any of us do. They have a much greater level of experience by which to make car comparisons, as such their opinions have validity.

But, that doesn't mean they can't make mistakes, and I think they did on this one for the reasons I mentioned.
Lots of people don't like auto journalists and auto mags.
I don't know why. Without them the majority of those who call themselves "auto enthusiasts" would have nowhere to get all that automotive information from.
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      06-17-2012, 01:10 PM   #11
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98% of the time, DCT/Auto are for those who do not know how to properly drive a MT or feel confident enough to drive it through all driving conditions.
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      06-17-2012, 02:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg View Post
98% of the time, DCT/Auto are for those who do not know how to properly drive a MT or feel confident enough to drive it through all driving conditions.
That is an ignorant comment. I for instance can drive a manual very well. I was a driving skills coach for almost 4 years and have won my regions solo autox class for the season in a manual car but now drive the dct. I can drive manuals at a very high level but doing so is not what I enjoy per say. I like hard acceleration, going around a turn on or past the level of traction, trying to improve my time and many other things but shifting with a cluth peddle was never something I enjoyed. Just something I needed to do to enjoy the other things. I did hate it in the stop and go traffic I face every workday. Now with the DCT, I can do what I enjoy and don't have to think about other things.

The truth is, if you are used to the dct and know what you are doing it does not hold you back on the track and will probably make you faster. Just because someone drives a dct does not mean they can't drive a manual and they may very well be a better driver then the person in the manual. The industry is changing and it seems like most of the higher end sports cars and now coming with a 7speed. I take a little pride in being able to pull off a rev matched heal toe downshift but now I don't need to. Not needing to in no way makes me a worse driver.
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      06-17-2012, 02:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg View Post
98% of the time, DCT/Auto are for those who do not know how to properly drive a MT or feel confident enough to drive it through all driving conditions.
Absolute nonsense.

I have DCT by choice, the majority of my previous BMWs (and many other cars as well) were manuals; and I have no problems with them. The poster above said it better than I can, so I will leave it at that.

Think before you post.
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      06-17-2012, 04:29 PM   #14
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The DCT in the M3 is much better on the track than the one found in the regular cars (135i, Z4, 335is). I've had a bunch of track time with a dct and stick 135i, and a DCT and stick M3.

The 135i DCT is ok, but I'll still keep the manual as it's more direct and I did experience delays in shifting with the 135i DCT.

For the M3 the DCT is spot on, always shifted quickly and never left me hanging. It's faster around the track with the DCT as well.

I own a 6 speed m3 (formerly a 6 speed 135i) and while it's good, I think the DCT is the better option for a track car (i'm just a cheap bastard so I didn't get it) where as on the 135i, the 6MT makes for a better track car.
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      06-17-2012, 05:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clovef View Post
That is an ignorant comment. I for instance can drive a manual very well. I was a driving skills coach for almost 4 years and have won my regions solo autox class for the season in a manual car but now drive the dct. I can drive manuals at a very high level but doing so is not what I enjoy per say. I like hard acceleration, going around a turn on or past the level of traction, trying to improve my time and many other things but shifting with a cluth peddle was never something I enjoyed. Just something I needed to do to enjoy the other things. I did hate it in the stop and go traffic I face every workday. Now with the DCT, I can do what I enjoy and don't have to think about other things.

The truth is, if you are used to the dct and know what you are doing it does not hold you back on the track and will probably make you faster. Just because someone drives a dct does not mean they can't drive a manual and they may very well be a better driver then the person in the manual. The industry is changing and it seems like most of the higher end sports cars and now coming with a 7speed. I take a little pride in being able to pull off a rev matched heal toe downshift but now I don't need to. Not needing to in no way makes me a worse driver.
With all due respect, how many members on this board do you actually believe are/were professional driving instructors? Then reread my original statement and retract what you just stated...
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      06-17-2012, 05:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg
98% of the time, DCT/Auto are for those who do not know how to properly drive a MT or feel confident enough to drive it through all driving conditions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg
With all due respect, how many members on this board do you actually believe are/were professional driving instructors? Then reread my original statement and retract what you just stated...
It's still BS, bwsteg. Even most of the manual owners who post on this board disagree with you, for example agreeing that heavy traffic is a "valid" reason to own a DCT in their view. But even if you had included that stipulation it would still be argumentative nonsense.

If you really want to confront people, you'll do so from a tiny minority. The percentage of manual buyers has become so small that it clearly no longer reflects "performance buyers" -- since most performance buyers are now buying automatics of some flavor or another.
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      06-17-2012, 05:42 PM   #17
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This article suggests the percentage is even smaller:
http://autos.aol.com/article/stick-shift-love-affair/

Quote:
A quick check of vehicles for sale on AOL Autos tells a similar story. Of the 4,391,747 vehicles recently listed for sale, only 241,560 -- or 5.5% -- came with a manual.
Clearly either way it's a much smaller number than the number of people who buy cars for their performance.
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      06-17-2012, 05:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pangloss View Post


This article suggests the percentage is even smaller:
http://autos.aol.com/article/stick-shift-love-affair/



Clearly either way it's a much smaller number than the number of people who buy cars for their performance.
Wait a minute, are you trying to validate that most vehicles sold in the United States are automatic? I am not sure where we misunderstood each other but this was never the topic of discussion, nor did I choose to make it as.
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      06-17-2012, 07:00 PM   #19
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      06-18-2012, 12:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg View Post
Wait a minute, are you trying to validate that most vehicles sold in the United States are automatic? I am not sure where we misunderstood each other but this was never the topic of discussion, nor did I choose to make it as.
No, you just insulted people who buy automatics with the following factually-stated opinion, for which you offered no evidence:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg
98% of the time, DCT/Auto are for those who do not know how to properly drive a MT or feel confident enough to drive it through all driving conditions.
Not sure how that's any better, exactly. Anyway, I added a little perspective that put your post in the correct light.
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      06-18-2012, 07:31 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwsteg View Post
98% of the time, DCT/Auto are for those who do not know how to properly drive a MT or feel confident enough to drive it through all driving conditions.
Complete and utter BS pal!
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      06-18-2012, 01:14 PM   #22
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Strange review.. Driving the DCT is amazing, not a second of lag and it's never mis-shifted once. Maybe it's different at extremely high revs, but in general - absolutely no issues or complaints.
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