Manual vs. steptronic

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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:


I don't know what evidence you have for that statement. I've always been of the opinion that auto trannies are one thing that GM does pretty well.
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Really? GM were way off the mark with introducing electronic control and multi speeds. Even Vauxhall and Opel who are owned by GM went to a different maker for a 4 speed in the '80s. Jaguar - before being owned by Ford - swapped to ZF after using GM for ages. Rolls too. BMW for some reason known only to themselves fitted 4 speed GM boxes to the E39 for US only - the rest of the world got the ZF 5 speed.
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For those of us in the USA, what's an E39?
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Oh, puhleaze. There are plenty of us in the USA that know perfectly well what an E39 is. Even us non-BMW drivers ;-)
It's the predecessor to the current model 5 series...
/daytripper '00 s4 6spd
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daytripper wrote:

We've also have heard of google. 8)

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You read this BMW group but have to ask?
It's the factory designation for the last generation 5 Series.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Of course, you UK guys could really play with us US heads by saying: "L-reg E39 528i" or some such.
FloydR
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Hmm... My "US" E46 has a GM-made 5-speed auto. Are you sure the E39 got a 4-speed? Me thinks you're mistaken.
Anyway, I will concede that GM trannies have not been "state of the art" in the last decade, but that doesn't make them unreliable (or "crap", as was asserted).
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The '96 -99 528 used the GM 4L30E, whereas BMW introduced the ZF 5HP18 on the E34 525 and continued with it in the Euro spec E39 6 cylinder models. It wasn't until 2000 that GM produced a 5 speed. Like nearly 10 years later. And if you've driven the two versions the five speed is simply light years ahead of the 4.

I wouldn't say the GM 180 as fitted to my 'other' car from the '80s is an example of a long lived transmission. It works well enough, though.
'Crap' really meant in relation to others. GM used to be the market leader in autos as well they might with such strong home sales. Hence the likes of Rolls Royce etc using them - and cost wasn't the object here. If the lead had subsequently been taken - like with so much else - by a third world country offering cheap prices through low labour costs then so be it - but it wasn't, but Germany.
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wrote:

Didn't they buy out Borg-Warner?
Anyway whilst the US were first to go for large scale adoption of auto boxes. In the US and UK most boxes remained three speed until very late on for instance an early 80's Rover 3500SD1 had either a five speed manual or a basic three speed auto, where top had the same ratio as 4th (25mph / 1krpm) in the manual and peak torque was < 100kmph. An equivalent 7 series of the time had a four speed auto with top at ~33mph/1krpm.
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My manual gearbox broke before my clutch wore out on my E36. That was at about 160k miles. I know some earlier BMW auto boxes had a limited life without proper maintenance, but in my BMW ownership the auto is ahead :-)
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Autos don't have a traditional clutch that wears out, no slave clylinder, no throwout bearing. In terms of durability I'd say they're pretty equal all in.
I drive a steptronic and a manual and around town the auto is great - foot down and off you go, no waiting for gear changes which on my car aren't very nice. I can't remember the last time I used the steptronic function. It's only when I'm "racing" somewhere that I might put it into sport first, then decide when to change up or down then back into auto again.
The biggest "issue" is that of the torque converter - in a manual the engine rpm is directly related to the cars speed so in twisty corners etc you get better control than the auto unless you're at high enough rpm to lock up the torque converter.
I grew up driving both autos and sticks so I'm not quite as biased as some others on here. If you like the auto now, then get one.
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I too have driven both for a very long time - although when I learnt to drive autos were somewhat of a rarity in the UK. But since I'm fascinated by things mechanical I'm fascinated by autos. They may seem mundane to those brought up on them - but not to me. I look at each development - CVT, DSG etc - and think now is the answer to the efficiency issue with a torque convertor transmission. But am always disappointed with them in some way. Then 'they' improve the conventional auto.
I still enjoy driving a good manual under some conditions. But not everyday. And a good manual to me is still a four speed - no 5 or 6 I've driven has a perfect selector mechanism due to the extra plane. My ideal is a four with electrically operated overdrive. ;-)
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London SW

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Yup. My brother has a Stag which has probably the same box and overdrive.

Easily prevented these days, though.

Wish I could say the same about his Stag. But to be fair it was bought as a project car. Not sure what the projected finish date is, though.

I'm rather uncertain which layout of many I dislike least. ;-)
The best box I ever had by far was funnily enough in a van. A GM Vauxhall Viva HA dating from the '60s. Just like operating a well engineered light switch. Wonder where things went wrong?
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I'm not sure what a torque converter is exactly, I"ll look it up.
But if you're in sport mode, won't it keep the gear you're in unless you're at incredibly high rpms or low rpms? ie you can downshift before a corner and keep it in that gear all the way through...wouldn't that have the same effect of having your speed proportional to rpms?
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It's like a fluid clutch and until the revs reach a certain point (usually 2k-2.5k rpm) the engine and gears aren't directly linked. that's why in an auto when you put your foot down you hear the engine revs increase before the car's speed increases.
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I have a manual E30 325 and an auto E46 330. Both are good but if I had to chose it would be the manual. The auto is better (smoother) for the passenger. Interestingly Alpina only offered only auto for the E46. The auto boxes are very good but if you really enjoy driving for maximum involvement and control go for the manual.
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I've seen quite a few "complaints" about these new "automated manuals"
1) You loose gear after about 10mins in a queue - Just sense really - you are clutch slipping and should be in neutral!
2)reversing slowly up into a parking space /problems with too many/too few revs - for this I've not had or seen a reasonable answer
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The Steptronic is a conventional auto - but with slightly more sophisticated manual over-ride of the gear selection.
You're thinking of an SMG or DSG box.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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