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.