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      04-08-2014, 09:22 AM   #1
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Thumbs down Steptronic 135i Track Day

Hey Guys,

I had a track day yesterday (not in the 1M). I have yet to drive the 1M on the track. I took a friends 135i out for a spin and it was my first experience with a Steptronic. And it sucked! I couldn't trust the car at all. And I had no Idea what gear I was in. I felt disconnected. Then if you mashed the gas it would automatically down shift and it was very unnerving. Yea the car was faster than my 993 but I don't know if I could ever get used to an "automatic". When I drive the 1M on the street I can feel the limits in my seat. This was not the case with the Steptronic again I felt disconnected and don't think I'll ever buy an "Automatic" ever!

What do you guys think? I've herd that this is faster and is the future of motorsport. But for me no thank you.
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      04-08-2014, 09:25 AM   #2
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On paper as a bottom line matter, ATs will always rip off shifts more quickly and with more precision than an MT. Nothing new to report there, they dominate the strip and there’s a reason for that. But of course, they can’t come close to replicating the feel or involvement of a manual. As ATs go the HP21 is quite good. But for outright driver involvement, no of course it’s not in the same ballpark as a manual.
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      04-08-2014, 09:35 AM   #3
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The steptronic tranny in the 08-10 135i is a French made 6-spd as opposed to the ZF 6-spd in the 3 series and it's a bad transmission. 2011+ model year 135i's have the 7-spd DCT, which IMO is miles better.

As much as I like the DCT, the reason I bought 135i is to have fun and the 6-spd manual makes it that much more fun, so I bought a manual.
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      04-08-2014, 10:13 AM   #4
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I deeply appreciate a good manual, and I commend BMW for giving us the option.
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      04-08-2014, 10:36 AM   #5
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Real OEM shows the same AT for the 08 335i as the 08 135i, GA6HP19Z and a quick check of the plate confirmed that.

I've had both a 08 335 at and now a 08 135i at and can say they both function the same.

What I've learned is that the AT is far too complex to be able to write it off after just one experience. There are a number of factors that can effect performance.

First, the AT has an adaptation feature that causes it to adjust it's shift points in relation to your driving. It helps to reset it prior to going from daily driving to track use.

The AT needs it's fluid's refreshed every 50K mi. Old fluid makes the shifts slow and clunky, fresh fluid makes a huge difference.

And finally, Alpina has a fantastic AT flash which really transforms the AT.

On the down side, the AT also contributes to high oil and water temps so added cooling is a must.

Set up properly I think it actually drives very well on the track. It's very controllable in manual mode and has flawless gear change.

All in all, the AT is a fantastic piece of equipment considering it's dual purpose.
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      04-08-2014, 12:13 PM   #6
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Why not put it into manual mode and use the paddles?
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      04-08-2014, 12:16 PM   #7
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Steptronic is way too unresponsive for track use. I have a steptronic and it helps me through traffic. That is all it is really good for.

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      04-08-2014, 12:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uberschnell View Post
Real OEM shows the same AT for the 08 335i as the 08 135i, GA6HP19Z and a quick check of the plate confirmed that.
My bad sir, this stupid review has wrong information about the transmission.
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      04-08-2014, 12:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinTurboed View Post
My bad sir, this stupid review has wrong information about the transmission.
Its a 6HP19 thats made in France.

The same transmission is in the Alpina B3, thats why we can get the Alpina transmission software to work with a regular 135 (its very nice)

As far as automatics go its the best one that ive ever used. I honestly dont see the point in the extra complication of a DTC because of it. Also the DTC is heavier, the 6HP19 was only 10 pounds heavier than the manual option if my 135 catalog from 2008 is to be believed.




Ohh and about that article. That author sucked, thats why they sacked him.
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      04-08-2014, 01:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenVert View Post
Its a 6HP19 thats made in France.

Ohh and about that article. That author sucked, thats why they sacked him.
Wait, now I am confused. The guy above me said the transmission in the 135i is a ZF 6-spd (GA6HP19Z). Different transmissions for US and other parts of the world?

And that author definitely does suck, good thing they sacked him.
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      04-08-2014, 02:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinTurboed View Post
Wait, now I am confused. The guy above me said the transmission in the 135i is a ZF 6-spd (GA6HP19Z). Different transmissions for US and other parts of the world?

And that author definitely does suck, good thing they sacked him.
I’m not sure where it manufactured but it is a ZF, not Getrag, and the exact same nomenclature as the ZF transmission found on the 08 335i, GA6HP19Z. USA configuration.

Costs about twice as much as the AT on the 128i
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      04-08-2014, 02:43 PM   #12
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Add the Alpina TCU flash and a set of M3 paddle shifters and the old steptronic isn't too bad, although no automatic can replace the connection you have with the car that a manual provides. Unfortunately I haven't had my 135i on the track, but with the Alpina tune and the M3 paddles it shifts great on the street.
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      04-08-2014, 02:54 PM   #13
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Let’s just clear this up quickly. EVERY N54 powered E8x, E9x, and E6X use the same ZF sourced HP19/21 transmission unless it is a DCT iS. There are absolutely, positively no differences in terms of the relevant hardware (tq converter, mechatronics, TCU interaction with the DME, valve body, etc etc). The E8x 28I uses a GM sourced AT, and that particular piece is made in France. It has nothing to do with the ZF units that are mated to N54s.

PS 19/21 is just nomenclature, they are the same transmission. The HP26 is the higher torque version that got tossed into the 35D. We’ve looked into a swap but the bellhousings don’t match up IIRC.
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      04-08-2014, 03:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinTurboed View Post
Wait, now I am confused. The guy above me said the transmission in the 135i is a ZF 6-spd (GA6HP19Z). Different transmissions for US and other parts of the world?

And that author definitely does suck, good thing they sacked him.
No theyre all the same 6HP19 transmission. Theyre just sourced from a french plant in some cars (Like my 08)
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      04-08-2014, 03:44 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 135Pats View Post
Let’s just clear this up quickly. EVERY N54 powered E8x, E9x, and E6X use the same ZF sourced HP19/21 transmission unless it is a DCT iS. There are absolutely, positively no differences in terms of the relevant hardware (tq converter, mechatronics, TCU interaction with the DME, valve body, etc etc). The E8x 28I uses a GM sourced AT, and that particular piece is made in France. It has nothing to do with the ZF units that are mated to N54s.

PS 19/21 is just nomenclature, they are the same transmission. The HP26 is the higher torque version that got tossed into the 35D. We’ve looked into a swap but the bellhousings don’t match up IIRC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenVert View Post
No theyre all the same 6HP19 transmission. Theyre just sourced from a french plant in some cars (Like my 08)
Thanks for clearing that up!
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      04-09-2014, 11:51 AM   #16
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Quote:
Why not put it into manual mode and use the paddles?
I was using the paddles. It was my first experience on the track using the flappy paddles.

I'm still astonished on how disconnected I felt.

I've driven all types of cars on the track at speed. All were manual shift. No problems front wheel drive, all wheel and some rear wheel.
I've never been as uncomfortable at speed as I was in this car. Call me old school but manual is where its at.
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      04-09-2014, 12:34 PM   #17
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Just to avoid another Step vs DCT vs 6MT thread, I'll just say that if you are used to a 1M and then jump into a 135i with Step, I have a feeling there are a lot more variables contributing to your discomfort than just the transmission... Not exactly an even comparison, particularly on a race track (I'm taking the liberty of assuming the 135i was relatively stock and not some LSD'd, wide body, M3 bits converted frankenseries).
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      04-10-2014, 09:21 AM   #18
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Quote:
Just to avoid another Step vs DCT vs 6MT thread, I'll just say that if you are used to a 1M and then jump into a 135i with Step, I have a feeling there are a lot more variables contributing to your discomfort than just the transmission... Not exactly an even comparison, particularly on a race track (I'm taking the liberty of assuming the 135i was relatively stock and not some LSD'd, wide body, M3 bits converted frankenseries).
Yes Bone Stock. Not sure if that also contributed to my discomfort. I've driven unmod'd cars on the track before with no problem.
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      04-10-2014, 09:38 AM   #19
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I've tracked my car a few times with the steptronic transmission without any problems. It's fast and shifts very well for an automatic transmission without any heating issues.

With respect to it downshifting, you probably were engaging the "kick-down." It's after the point of WOT on the gas pedal. If you drive it enough, it becomes natural to know exactly where WOT is and the car will and should not downshift on its own unless your revs are not high enough.
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