2018 BMW M5 to Replace its DCT with a Traditional Automatic

We’ve know for some time that the 2018 BMW M5 will be the first without the option of a manual transmission. Now we know BMW is planning on replacing both transmissions. According to sources the 2018 M5 will also lose its DCT which will be replaced with the now ubiquitous ZF 8 Speed torque converter automatic.

Sources tell us that the new ZF 8 speed will be a new iteration of the unit which is available or standard on every rear wheel drive base BMW offered today.


Why the change? Power, cost and efficiency are the answers. The new M5’s torque output would have taxed the current DCT to its limit. Because of that BMW looked for replacements in a number of different transmissions. However the costs associated with mating a transmission to the new and highly complex xDrive system (standard on the M5) dictated that a versatile solution be used. Enter the revised ZF 8 Speed.

BMW will use a multi-plate wet clutch located in the gearbox on the output to the front driveshaft making the M5 the first all wheel drive M car ever produced. That link will provide a continuous variable split between front and rear axles, yet in M Dynamic mode, delivers 100% of drive to the rear wheels.

M5 Manual

That last bit is key for M purists. Yes the M5 can and will be a rear wheel drive car when called upon.

What about shift times and overall transmission performance? We won’t know details until the cars release this fall but we’ve heard that shift times are comparable to the old DCT. Perhaps even better the new transmission will reportedly have more ability to operate seamlessly in commuting and still feeling razor sharp in M Mode.

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  • Nick Dawson

    With four-wheel drive providing added traction off the line, the new M5’s 0-60mph is expected to dip well below that of its predecessor and at least match the 3.5sec of the new E63. That would make it 0.4sec quicker than the now discontinued M5 Competition Package and an 0.8sec improvement on the previous M5. Top speed will be restricted to 155mph, although an optional M Driver’s Package will raise that to 190mph.

    Details of the new M5’s chassis set-up remain under wraps, but engineers involved in its development have revealed to Autocar that it adopts a largely bespoke double wishbone (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension system, together with the new electro-mechanical steering that includes the active rear-steer function available on selected 5-Series models.

  • Nick Dawson

    And another thing – future BMW M cars will come with autonomous driving modes. According to BMW M boss, Frank van Meel, that’s not sacrilege, but simple common sense. “If cars go to autonomy, that goes for M too”, he says.

    However, he draws the line at tuning an autonomous M car to drive in maximum attack mode. “Anything is possible,” he says, “but you’ve still got to be a passenger, and that wouldn’t be comfortable.