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      05-15-2010, 01:56 AM   #1
Moo
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Thumbs up Car & Driver: 2011 135i DCT First Drive Review - 4.6s / 13.2s (estimated)

2011 BMW 135i DCT - First Drive Review
A dual-clutch automated manual brings virility to BMW’s potent 135i.

BY STEVE SILER
May 2010

BMW’s 135i coupe and convertible may not look much different for 2011, but with a new turbocharged inline-six engine and a newly available dual-clutch automated manual transmission, the 2011 135i certainly feels different. We came to this conclusion following our first opportunity to sample the new 135i on the roads around New Jersey Motorsports Park, as well as on its “Lightning” track, during BMW’s recent 2011 model rollout.

On paper, the differences are slight. Cosmetic and interior changes are more or less limited to reshuffled option packages. While the single-turbo N55 replaces the award-winning N54 twin-turbo motor in all 135s, its output figures are technically the same as those of the N54: 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, with peak torque now occurring 200 rpm sooner. (We say “technically the same” because it has been our longtime suspicion that the N54 is actually 20 to 30 hp more powerful than BMW claims and it’s possible that the N55’s ratings are not similarly underestimated.) The dual-clutch transmission is the same DCT-branded gearbox offered in the Z4. It replaces the 135i’s optional six-speed automatic and costs $200 more, while a six-speed manual is still the standard transmission option; the 128i continues with the choice of six-speed manual or traditional automatic.

Credit the Transmission More Than the Engine

The close-ratio, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox feels far better than the conventional autobox it replaces, which itself was a swell-enough automatic. By virtue of its conventionality, however, the auto couldn’t deliver an almost uninterrupted stream of torque to the rear wheels as does the DCT. The outgoing slushbox was also hamstrung by its artful but clumsy-to-use optional shift “paddles,” which required a push for downshifts and a pull for upshifts. The DCT comes with honest-to-goodness, pull-only steering-wheel paddles–downshift on the left, upshift on the right–that make far easier work of changing gears during high-intensity driving.

We generally prefer the driver involvement of traditional manual transmissions, especially when they’re as good as the ones offered on most BMW models. In the case of the 135i, the fitment of the DCT may close the preference gap for some, and will very likely improve acceleration times. The difference in character between the N54 and N55 seems minimal, at least in this application, but it’s the DCT’s quick shifts that improve the experience, keeping the engine in the power better than the automatic was able to. We expect that the DCT will bring 0-to-60-mph times down by a tenth or two compared to manual-equipped 135s, into the mid-four-second range. The quickest 135i we’ve tested, a manual-equipped coupe, took only 4.7 seconds to reach 60, while a three-pedal convertible completed the task in 4.9.

As expected, the convertible feels both heavier and slightly less nimble in spirited driving, though we could hardly characterize it as sloppy. That said, we don’t expect too many 135i convertible owners to head to the track in their cars, so that’s a relatively moot point. Convertible buyers want convertibles, and this one continues to require very few sacrifices as compared to the coupe.

So the good news is that the switch from twin- to single-turbo six hasn’t affected the 135i’s character noticeably. As long as BMW’s output claims are on the up and up, performance should improve, too—we’ll wait for a formal test session to confirm that. Those who would have chosen the automatic last year will be happy with the dual-clutch upgrade. The better news is that the three-pedal manual is still available—at least for now. Let’s keep it that way, okay BMW?

Specifications


VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe or convertible

BASE PRICE: $38,500–42,800

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979 cc
Power (SAE net): 300 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 300 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 104.7 in Length: 172.2 in
Width: 68.8 in Height: 55.4 in
Curb weight (mfr’s est): 3450–3700 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 13.2 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 130–150 mph

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA city/highway driving: 18/25 mpg

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...t_drive_review
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      05-15-2010, 02:47 AM   #2
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Looks good. Still nothing official yet...right? Still glad I choose the "Year One of the One"...2008 FTW!
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      05-15-2010, 07:34 AM   #3
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I guess the only way we will know about the engine ratings/suspicions is wait till they drive a 6MT car so the trans is not part of the equation OR WHEN WE HAVE DYNOS.
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      05-15-2010, 09:01 AM   #4
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C&D has always been a bit optimistic when it comes to acceleration times. For instance, they tested the 135i 'vert from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, whereas Insideline tested it at 5.5 seconds. Even factoring in various conditions (tires, weight of driver, transmission, temperature, etc), that's a pretty significant difference.
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      05-15-2010, 09:09 AM   #5
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what i find the most interesting is the article's slant: that BMW's DCT is a replacement for the steptronic, similar to Porsche's PDK replacing tiptronic.
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      05-15-2010, 09:54 AM   #6
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Lets remember that the times listed in that article are Estimates, not actual testing.
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      05-15-2010, 10:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emtrey View Post
I guess the only way we will know about the engine ratings/suspicions is wait till they drive a 6MT car so the trans is not part of the equation OR WHEN WE HAVE DYNOS.

There are already N55 dynos out there. The output is nearly identical to the N54.
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      05-15-2010, 10:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pDz View Post
what i find the most interesting is the article's slant: that BMW's DCT is a replacement for the steptronic, similar to Porsche's PDK replacing tiptronic.

That's the proper route IMO. The DCT offers all the advantages of the auto, with better efficiency and feel.
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      05-15-2010, 10:29 AM   #9
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i actually feel sorry for the prev gen slushbox owners. This DCT is a dramatic improvement. Leaning towards an AW DCT purchase.
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      05-15-2010, 10:44 AM   #10
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4.7 0-60, low 13's in the 1/4 mile, 150mph top speed, Smooth reliable shifing. Dont feel sorry for us. In fact, we should feel sorry for you. TBD as your listed car and wishing one day you might have one. But from what we all know these wishers often dont get what they're wishing for on forums. You keep wishing, we'll keep driving..........fast.
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      05-15-2010, 11:05 AM   #11
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I'm interested to see that the fuel economy ratings of 18/25 appear to be the same as for the N54. I thought this engine was supposed to improve fuel economy?

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      05-15-2010, 11:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kioko12 View Post
C&D has always been a bit optimistic when it comes to acceleration times. For instance, they tested the 135i 'vert from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, whereas Insideline tested it at 5.5 seconds. Even factoring in various conditions (tires, weight of driver, transmission, temperature, etc), that's a pretty significant difference.

Insideline also clocked a 5.0 second 0-60 time when they pitted it against the 335i and the E46 M3.




And 5.1 seconds when they put it against the 370Z,





Where the hell did you get 5.5 seconds from?
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      05-15-2010, 01:00 PM   #13
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Big difference is IL's "official" times are without the 1-foot rollout, C&D's times are with it. That in itself typically accounts for .2 to .3 of the difference.
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      05-15-2010, 01:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Where the hell did you get 5.5 seconds from?
Notice the key word vert. 300 lb makes a bit of a difference.
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      05-15-2010, 01:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Big difference is IL's "official" times are without the 1-foot rollout, C&D's times are with it. That in itself typically accounts for .2 to .3 of the difference.
+1.
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      05-15-2010, 02:06 PM   #16
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Lol, don't feel sorry for AT's.....

.1 or .2 of a second oh god what will I do now.

and gas mileage? whatever, I drove freeway this morning on cruise control and got anywhere from 28-38 at any given time @ 75

no doubt dct is nice though. enjoy
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      05-15-2010, 02:13 PM   #17
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You guys crack me up. Before the N55's hit, it was "BMW underates the N54 engines, and their 0-60 times. Our cars are supercars"

Now it's.. "These are just estimates... C&D always is optimistic... they use rollout"

DCT is cool, and I would have gotten it in an instant... With that said, I am thrilled with my car, and it's a beast. Rock on.
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      05-15-2010, 02:18 PM   #18
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Is there any info on whether the dct transmission has less parasitic loss than the automatic?
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      05-15-2010, 02:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roundel View Post
i actually feel sorry for the prev gen slushbox owners. This DCT is a dramatic improvement. Leaning towards an AW DCT purchase.
Why would you? The STEPs are marginally quicker than the MT's.. The DCT may be marginally quicker than the STEP.

Using that same logic, do you regret your MT purchase being that the STEP is prob .1-.2 quicker?

You do not buy MT or a STEP for the difference in .1-.2 seconds... you buy it to fit your needs. MT typically enjoy being more connected with the driving experience. AT guys, may not like the idea of rowing their own boat, or may simply do not know how to drive a MT in a spirited manner, heel to toe shifting etc etc.

I can drive MT to get from point a to b. I'm not going to stall or grind gears... To me MT seems like a chore... others love it. Am I confident I can drive in a spirited manner and achieve results anywhere close to the STEP... not at all.

to each their own.
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      05-15-2010, 02:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSM Bimmer View Post
Is there any info on whether the dct transmission has less parasitic loss than the automatic?

It does. It should be right in line with the manual as far as drivetrain losses go.
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      05-15-2010, 05:00 PM   #21
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I wish the OP actually read the article before posting this. Those numbers are estimates people. Let's not get into a N54 vs. N55 battle!
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      05-15-2010, 05:19 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlickShift View Post
I wish the OP actually read the article before posting this. Those numbers are estimates people. Let's not get into a N54 vs. N55 battle!

if 0-60mph times really mattered to people, they'd all retrofit limited slip differentials, too.

straightline speed has simply never been a BMW forte.

if you want pure straightline speed time and time again, i'd go 2011 mustang GT.

car & driver also applies a correction factor given testing conditions at the time. edmunds.com does not do this. it's just too difficult to compare different testing methods against one another. it all has to be in the same group, on the same surface, the same driver with the same method.
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