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Roadshow Video Reviews
2009 BMW M3 Convertible DCTMaking up for past sins, BMW delivers a robotic gearbox you can love.
[ Car Speeding ] ^M00:00:02 >> Thank you BMW. Thank you for giving us an alternative to what I believe is the world's worst transmission, your SMG, replaced now with this, your DCT. Let's check its tech. You'll like it. ^M00:00:17 [ Car speeding ] ^M00:00:25 >> This DCT is BMW's second effort at a automated manual transmission. DCT is dual-clutch transmission. There are two clutches found in, kind of concentric plate at the output side of the engine and those drive two shafts of gears: Two, four and six around one shaft. One, three, five and seven -- it's a seven-speed, are on another shaft. As a result, the next gear is always ready and engaged waiting for its clutch to put it into power connection with the motor. That's the basic idea. ^M00:01:00 [ Car speeding ] ^M00:01:02 >> And unlike that previous BMW transmission, the SMG, this one does not feel like you're driving a box of rocks. It's quite smooth and visceral when you want it to be. It's all operated by this basically video game controller down here in the console. Over to the right is either drive or sport mode. The other shifting method is here on these paddles on the wheel. Now further modifying the shifting is this rocker switch, right here behind the controller. All the way to the left, one bar is the most comfortable, the least aggressive and really behaves like a very normal, modern automatic transmission. When you take it over here to the right, gives me five bars, still the automatic mode now, give in to the gas a little bit -- whoa! It takes off and go. I mean and then teaming up with those settings is the power button right here because we're on an M that lets you unleash a different level of aggressiveness out of the engine. ^M00:01:55 [ Car speeding ] ^M00:01:56 >> And when you're in the more aggressive setting and you go in manual, you get some great throttling by the vehicle. You know that automatic rev matching, throttle blipping stop. It makes you feel and sound like a much better driver than you are and I think one of the great values of this car. Can this car really be an everyday driver in traffic? Okay, here we are in the little [inaudible] of sunset, San Francisco, little streets, town environment, there's Bertolucci over my shoulder and now we're gonna do some stop and go. I'm in the most comfortable automatic mode right now. One bar in and there's none of this clunk-clunk-bok-bok that we've had in the SMG from BMW. It just feels basically like an automatic. The difference I'm noting is this, here I am in a stop, off the pedal, there's no creep. There's roll, but there's no creep. Now in stop and go bumper to bumper is where I hit this gearbox is gonna test your patience because just as soon as you step into it to try and get some engagement, which takes a second or so, you might needed to be back on the brake pedal because traffic stopped again. That's easy to do with an automatic, that's even easy to do, though tedious with a manual, but in this car, you're kind of delayed so much. It's kind of rubber-bandy feeling. In any event, manual or automatic, the shifts on this car are so fast and tight and clean. So what puts power into this gearbox: The 4-liter BMW V-8, the great 414 horsepower, 295 foot pounds of torque. The 0 to 60 on this car, the convertible with the DCT is 4.9 seconds. The same car with a manual is 5.1 seconds, so you pick up two-tenths by going with this gearbox, which brings the question, how much is this DCT worth? Yes it is a technological wonder and it's as good as an automatic or close enough in everyday driving, so that's nice. So we're down to one thing. When you're driving flat out, is it worth 2700 bucks to pick up two-tenths. ^M00:03:57 [ Car speeding ] ^M00:03:59 >> Okay, so as I told you, the DCT is about $2700 option, but you say, "Hey Cooley, I can't buy it alone, I got have a car wrapped around it, how much is that?" This guy is 65 base, that's the convertible M3. Our car is 75 because it adds a cool weather package -- you may or may not need, electronic dynamics control or on to a four-corners and the dreaded gas guzzler tax. And that 75 doesn't even start touching nav and audio options. So it can be a pricy small car, but with this top and this transmission, one of the trickiest.