Since we have been discussing the F10 ///M5 and the possible transmission options here lately I thought I would formally address my opinion on the possibilities.
Let me first start off by stating we had heard for over a year from multiple sources, including the recent story by Motor Trend, that the ///M5 would come as an automatic only, automatic as in torque converter. This really wasn ‘t all that eye opening to us here as the X5/X6 ///M models feature the same engine and are only offered in a true automatic. No big deal. Then, we heard from BMW officials “Have faith that the next M5 won’t be equipped with an automatic transmission.” And yes, that is a direct quote, hence the use of quotations. We diligently began researching possible options, contacting transmission manufacturers that BMW currently uses as opposed to speculating on transmissions that are used in other vehicles as BMW has setup complex purchasing agreements already.
I quickly learned that both Getrag and ZF now have Dual Clutch Transmissions that would work with the speculated torque numbers of the V8 twin turbo in the ///M5. I was told by contacts at these manufacturers they are not able to discuss future products or divulge any information aside from there may be packaging and fitment issues with these DCTs in certain vehicles because of the size and shape of the transmission. At that point inquired about any other options that may be available and I learned that the 8HP (BMW ‘s current 8 Speed Auto) from ZF could be fitted with a wet clutch setup rather than a torque converter, seemingly offering the best of both worlds. I still have no sources that are definitively able to tell me what we will see in the next ///M5. There are countless manual options available although that does NOT change my opinion that the car should not have a manual as standard. (poll after the break)
Do I feel that the ///M5 should have an automatic only? You bet I do. If that is a DCT or a wet-clutch setup or even a top flight torque converter I am all for it with no questions or qualms. These options make sense from a performance standpoint and the “bahnstormer ” mentality of the car. We are not talking about an E39 here folks, the F10 is as big as a 7er from that time period and the buyers of these cars use them as luxury business haulers that offer the opportunity for a right foot pedal smash that garners conversation from back-seat drivers.
It has been hinted at from BMW officials (outside ///M) that in the North American market drivers desire more than speed, they want to be an integral part of the connection between the car and the road. Basically- some like to row their own gears and that is the reason the 550i is offered with a true manual. Why shouldn ‘t the ///M version of the 5er be similarly equipped? In my mind it is simple, business men don ‘t want to be stuck in traffic on a bridge shifting gears. For the few cars they could sell in a manual (the ///M5 is small volume compared to a 550i) the cost of development, as we have seen with the 1M, for a second transmission is high and that money could be used to develop something for all ///M5s. I would think that a Carbon Fiber trunk lid or hood would replace the transmission choice and people wouldn ‘t mind. What I can see happening is that the manual is offered but that development cost is passed on to the consumer, making the manual a COST option. The manuals sales numbers plummeted even further as I typed the last sentence.
I still love to row my own gears and wear my enthusiast badge everywhere I go, I just can ‘t compute how such a big car with enormous amounts of power and torque requires a manual gearbox. I do not see anyone not buying this car because of the fact it will not have a manual- In fact, I have recently visited several local dealers to inquire about this and they said they had people back out of there 1M deposits because the sportiest of BMW models was manual only. Again, why does the ///M5 need a manual option? Last time I checked Porsche didn ‘t put a manual in the Panamera Turbo, so if BMW puts one in the ///M5 do they regain the title of sportiest German manufacturer… I ‘d love to hear your take on this.