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08-21-2001, 12:49 PM
Has anyone read a road test of the SMG II? Plenty of info out there that it is coming and describing how it works, but I have seen nothing critiquing how it actually drives and feels. Jeff

08-21-2001, 01:30 PM
I can tell you from my own experience that while it is much more fun than an automatic it is still boring to drive with compared with a regular manual. A car like an M3 should be driven with a regular manual. I would love to have something like smg in my wife's lexus ls430 to make it bearable to drive, so in a luxury car it would be a good choice. In the M3 it is incredibly boring when compared with a regular stick shift.

08-21-2001, 01:39 PM
Hey, real sports car drivers modulate their own brakes, so make sure to pull the ABS fuse.

Same for DSC - we don't need no computers helping us steer.

Oh, and did you know real racers from the good old days had levers to manually control spark advance and mixture on their engines - constant adjustments needed to generate good thrust in both the straights and corners - Get rid of that EFI computer and do it like a _real_ driver.

And wait, what's this? You're using those sissy dual-cone synchronizers in the gearbox? You can shift without double clutching and grinding if you want? Blasphemy! Straight cut gears and no synchros is the only _real_ way to drive a sports car...

See how silly it gets as we travel the path you're on? You're entitled to your opinion, but don't apply it to everyone lest we simply pick an earlier technology era and make fun of all the new things that _you_ are using in the name of progress.

Back In The Saddle
08-21-2001, 01:39 PM

(e) Animboy
08-21-2001, 01:44 PM

08-21-2001, 01:45 PM

08-21-2001, 01:51 PM
there's a link in the E46 M3 FAQ:

08-21-2001, 01:51 PM
You guys need to relax. The guy is entitled to his opinion. Note the statement "<i>from my own experience</i>". It's funny how if someone says they like the system no one complains, but god forbid someone doesn't like it they're treated like a leper. What's even more hilarious are all you guys who defend SMG but have never driven the system.

08-21-2001, 01:55 PM
He's not putting it out as his opinion - he's declaring that all M3's should be driven with a stick.

I'd be fine if he said _he_ prefers the stick over the SMG. But he's taken the line that stick is fundamentally superior for all _real_ drivers of M3's, and there I disagree. Both transmissions are worthy, and one need look no further than F1 to see race drivers doing it the SMG way.

I'm not defending SMG, nor attacking the stick. I am pointing out how silly it is to declare that the "old" way to do something in a car is the "right" way - and my examples stand up very well thank you.

08-21-2001, 02:05 PM
Read the posts from Andreas and Lordy, they make statements like "SMG is more fun than stick" but we all know they are referring to their opinion. No one flames them for the same use of language. The original post from 'jkingston' asked for "critiquing how it actually drives and feels" and cliff gave his critique.

08-21-2001, 02:13 PM
My reason for bringing up this topic is because I want to hear all opinions of SMG but the problem is that people who don't like it will be persuaded not to post their opinions for fear of being flamed. Let's just try and be objective here so that we can get a fair evaluation of the SMG from all people.

08-21-2001, 02:23 PM
Dear StoneWalk,

Your comparisons are unreasonable. A car with ABS brakes is technically better than a car without. The ABS brakes in my car can do things that I can't possibly replicate with my own right foot. Same goes for DSC, traction control, etcetas. These things unquestionably add value to a car since they provide some practical benefit that is impossible to achieve without them.

Conversely SMG, or any other automatic transmission, is not equivalent to ABS and DSC. There is no advantage to SMG compared to a manual transmisison, except that it is easier to drive for those that can't drive stick. Manual transmissions are still around because they are more efficient and provide more pleasure to experienced drivers than automatics. Thus, manual transmissions are not "earlier technology", nor are they outdated.


08-21-2001, 02:24 PM

08-21-2001, 02:27 PM

I guess you can make all your shifts in 0.08 seconds.

I guess you have never mis-matched revs while downshifting.

I guess you never let the car roll back even a bit when on a hill.

I guess you always double clutch when downshifting.

Seems like a stretch to me. Even the best drivers cannot do this 100% of the time. The way I look at it is simple. If a manually operated clutch was so great then F1 drivers would still use it and I highly doubt that they would lack the skill to do so if it were possible.

08-21-2001, 02:30 PM
I am sorry Jay but I have a problem when you say "There is no advantage to SMG compared to a manual transmisison" when in fact you are wrong. An SMG transmission is faster and will always be faster than any driver rowing through the gears. It provides the confidence of knowing that every gear change will be done perfectly, and every downshift matched. A driver's confidence in a car directly relates do how well that car will perform. ABS is another confidence increasing tool that every race team uses if they can (meaning no rules against it).


08-21-2001, 02:31 PM
The point is some people (myself) like driving stick because it just feels more sporty. I might not shift as quickly as I'd like, but every now and them I get it right and it feels like I am part of the car. Guaranteed I could drive faster with SMG...but if I wanted faster I'd just ride my motorcycle.

08-21-2001, 02:40 PM

Thanks for your reply.

I do not believe that SMG is better (read faster) than manual. But we will have to wait for some instrumented acceleration tests to see.

I agree that SMG may increase the confidence of some drivers. Personally, I feel confident with manual, but I have years of experience driving stick.

My honest suggestion is that you increase your "confidence" with manual transmissions through practice. You won't regret the time you spend learning to shift well.


08-21-2001, 02:51 PM
nor write that my opinion is valid for everybody. What ever I say represents MY opinion and MY experience. Read the FAQ or my posts carefully and you'll see.

What's the problem anyway ? All I do is providing information to those who ARE INTERESTED. Nobody is forced to read and/or agree with my statements.


08-21-2001, 02:53 PM
Well -- let's see, my dealer called and offered me an October time slot that he can't fill. Seems the SMG II won't be available till November. I'll just hang on to my December slot and will order the $2700 SMG II option. Now, should it be the Cabrio or the Coupe???

08-21-2001, 02:56 PM
Cab and coupes are allocated seperately, so if you have an "October slot" at your dealer, then one assumes that must be an allocation, and if so, it cannot be converted from coupe to cab at your whim. It's either one or the other already.

08-21-2001, 03:10 PM
I said in my post that we all know you are referring to your opinion and nothing more. We understand your comments as just that, your opinion. The problem is that people who post their opinions disliking SMG using identical language as you get accused of making statements that are broad based. All im saying is that people with don't like SMG should be treated with the same respect as those who like it. Otherwise all we'll see is a one sided discussion because no one who dislikes SMG will post for fear of getting flamed.

08-21-2001, 03:11 PM
Well in my situation I can order whichever (for the December slot remember?). So which should it be???

08-21-2001, 03:18 PM
uhhh... sorry, Jason ! I misunderstood this one :-/

Everybody is free to express their opinion - of course ! What I don't like are post that are (obviously) lacking fundamental knowledge...


08-21-2001, 03:21 PM
I can't tell you what car you'll like.

I will tell you that cars for December delivery have not been allocated yet. You don't have a slot. You have a dealer telling you that he'll give you some kind of December allocation if/when he gets it.

08-21-2001, 03:21 PM
ABS is an _excellent_ comparison to SMG.

When ABS first came out, the systems were a bit less advanced, and a highly skilled driver could out-brake an ABS system at least some of the time, depending on the surface and the contour of the road in question. ABS made braking more consistent, took the job of modulating the brake off the driver's hands so that his attention could be more focused on other matters, and over time ABS became more refined and was soon accepted as generally superior and thus desireable even on very high performance machines.

I can specifically recall in the early ABS years that several exotic cars stayed with traditional brakes, preferring to leave things "up to the driver skill" rather than introducing automation. In time, this vanished, and now you would be considered nuts to not offer ABS on a high performance car since it has risen to the point where it plain old _is_ better. The Viper is was one of the last to finally pick up ABS, and if you read reviews before/after acquiring ABS, it's performance took a big step up in the braking department. But the original reason for the Viper to not have ABS was that it was "impure" - that real mens cars didn't have such crutches.

Look at the similarity to SMG. We're in the relatively early years of SMG, just hitting the second generation. The SMG takes clutch control out of the hands of the driver so that he can focus on other things (sound familiar yet?). The first generation SMG system was slightly inferior to a well trained driver with a stick. SMG-II appears to be about as good as the top drivers, better than most of us. SMG makes shifting more consistent (ding - more similarities!).

Your claim that SMG is uniformly inferior to a manual is nonsense. Are you able to retard engine timing just right to ease the power off between upshifts (faster than can be done with the throttle?). Can you double clutch and perfectly rev match your downshifts every time? I thought you said you were better than the SMG?

I think all your focus is on 0-60 times in the magazines as the measure of how "good" the SMG system is. Drag racing is not what SMG is for - if that is your only need, then you're looking at the wrong car anyway.

But the ABS - SMG comparison is spot on. If you'd like, I can pull up early abs tests where debates raged over whether a good driver could beat ABS, if he could do it repeatedly, and if ABS was better than the average driver or not, just like we do today, and with the same sets of people clamouring for a series of 60-0 braking tests as the only way to settle the question when in fact ABS is at its best when both braking _and_ turning.

08-21-2001, 03:33 PM
Well you see my situation is a little different. I'm in Germany and the "dealer" is directly associated with the factory -- so the Decemver slot is a lock -- besides what about my $5000 deposit?? ;-)

08-21-2001, 04:01 PM
When a car is allocated, it has a position on the factory assembly schedule, and is assigned a VIN. This is only done about one month in advance no matter where the order is coming from.

You may have a dealer who can order you a cab or coupe in December, but you do not have an allocation slot for it at the factory nor do you have a VIN.

It's mostly semantics, but the goal is to have everyone using the same terms to mean the same things - otherwise people will be using you as an example of December allocations happening today, which is nonsense.

08-21-2001, 04:43 PM
EXACTLY RIGHT!!! When your dealer gets its allocations, they are for the upcoming month. Your dealer can't know in August what he/she will get in December and when you have a slot, you would have to choose coupe or cab. You do not get to pick after you get your production info!

08-21-2001, 05:22 PM
Wow! what a lot of stuff... I'm for the last comments, everyone provide their own opinion as just that, and as much objective info as practical - as for me, I've driven the original SMG, and would probably take that over a stick, so it's easy - SMG II - btw, the original SMG was fitted to some 75% of M3s after intro at a cost of over $4000, so our buds in Germany voted with their cash -

08-21-2001, 05:43 PM
Your whole rant about efficiency isn't really that interesting. Many people just find the stick shift MORE FUN, is that such a big deal? Why does this upset so many?

Adding onto your ABS rant ill throw in the topic of DSC. Can you prevent skids better than the DSC system? Are you as consistent as the DSC? No. So why do many of us turn it off when we are performance driving? Because it's more FUN! Sure we can skid and crash easier than with DSC on just as we can without ABS. But we enjoy spinning the tires and getting the car sideways. Sure it's not an efficient driving practice but we enjoy it. If someone is looking for the most efficient means to drive, their best bet is to hire a driver and get chauffeured around.

So back to the origins of this, this is all in debate of peoples personal preference to a transmission. The fact is that many people find it more exciting and fun to drive the manual over SMG. It doesn't mean that the system is bad and that your choice is wrong. New technology doesn't = more fun for everyone. As soon as everyone understands that, these ridiculous rants can stop. Some people just like using a manual vs. SMG just as others like manual control over the skids by disabling DSC.

Mr. Grinch
08-21-2001, 05:47 PM
How to put this politely? Jay, do your research.

The comparison is ENTIRELY valid.

"A car with ABS brakes is technically better than a car without. The ABS brakes in my car can do things that I can't possibly replicate with my own right foot."

False. ABS is only better at some things. Standard brakes are better at other things. Locking the brakes results in shorter stopping distances on some surfaces, such as gravel or snow. ABS can't lock the brakes, so it is impossible to achieve the same stopping distances as standard brakes on those surfaces.

ABS gets credit for ability to turn under maximum braking. However, it ABS is incapable of maximum braking on the surfaces described above. Further more, I _can_ brake an turn at near maximum braking... I consider myself good at it. Just like some people can't drive stick... some can't brake.

"There is no advantage to SMG compared to a manual transmisison, except that it is easier to drive for those that can't drive stick. Manual transmissions are still around because they are more efficient and provide more pleasure to experienced drivers than automatics"

False Again. SMG has many features that make it safer. Keeping your hands on the steering wheel. Controling clutch engagement on a down shift so that the wheels don't slip and loose traction, which is the EXACT SAME GOAL of ABS. Perfect hill starts. Disengaging clutch in a emergency braking maneuver, to regain traction and avoid engine stalling, again, proven safety in F1, regains traction and control, just like ABS.

Furthermore, SMG is still a standard transmission, and more efficient than an automatic. Mentioning SMG in the same sentence as automatic implies that you don't know the difference between a torque convertor and a clutch.

Let's face it, you seem to think you're hot sh*t just because you can work a clutch pedal, but you can't work the brake pedal beside it.

Mr. Grinch
08-21-2001, 05:52 PM

08-21-2001, 05:56 PM

i agree, God forbid you don't like something BMW has to offer...or you express your opinion ...and lets not all forget, 90% of
these cars are driven in the street, NOT the gibe me a break when i here, "oh, this does that in 0.000008's...

i think the technology is amazing and think its great that BMW offers this option (SMG II)...but ultimately, driving in the streets
and shifting gears is allot of fun, i enjoy engaging the clutch and shifting, that's what i enjoy..."i" want to shift gears, when i roll
up to a red stop light, "i" want to put the clutch in...if i was racing on a track, then yes i would probably go with the SMG...but im

i think we can all agree on one thing, the M3 is a great performer!

good luck all!

08-21-2001, 05:57 PM
Everyone has their own definition of fun, and using a clutch can certainly qualify.

But you'll notice that despite there also being "fun" in panic stops for some folks, there's not really an off switch for the ABS on most cars (short of pulling the fuse). So we're into a grey area there.

I just don't like the absolute statements on _either_ side. I don't agree with "all M3's _should_ be driven with a regular manual" as was posted here. I also would not agree with someone saying "no one should order an M3 with a stick". Saying that _you_ happen to enjoy the stick, or the SMG is great. Claiming that _everyone_ should share your values is not OK. Nor is claiming that SMG offers no added value - just like ABS can do things most drivers can't, SMG can do things most drivers can't. That has no bearing on fun, which is obviously a personal preference, and one which I fully endorse! :)

But each time I see someone sneer that an SMG driver should have just trained himself at driving a stick better, well I get to sneer back that he should disable his ABS and go work on his threshold braking skills. Fair is fair.

Mr. Grinch
08-21-2001, 06:12 PM
this argument comes up, it's always started by a stick driver bashing SMG as a worthless toy for people who don't know how to drive stick. Every time, it's a stick fan saying that SMG should not exist on M3. It's a (few) stick fans telling the world that not just themselves, but nobody else can have fun without stick.

It's not the SMG fans who are saying to stop production of stick boxes. It's not the SMG fans who are saying you can't have fun with stick. It's not the SMG fans who are claiming they can do better than stick. It's not the SMG fans telling anyone else that they should not get stick. All SMG fans are claiming is that they like SMG, they find it good, and they find it fun. Exactly what you said, Jason. Why should they apologize for defending their choice? They aren't the ones who are going around saying anyone who got stick made a bad choice.

This post isn't directed at yourself Jason, but to the few who feel threatened by the fact that others have chosen differently. If you read my posts on the topic, every time I've said that after driving with someone who drives stick very well, I can understand the attraction to it, and I can understand why taking that away would reduce their fun, like hot air balloon without any hot air. But that doesn't mean the SMG people don't have as much fun, focusing more on driving, passing, turning, lines, braking. If driving is about pushing a pedal and a stick while matching revs, you can go buy a skoda. To suggest that other's can't enjoy driving as much without it, despite all the other variables there are to enjoy, suggests that the person either a) can't accept that people's likes and dislikes are different than their own or b) are very narrow minded and insecure.

I fully respect people's main reason for wanting stick, in that it's more fun, and it's their preference, or that they are more capable with stick. Other reasons like reliability concerns are equally valid. But it is an absolute mistake to state claims like those Jay made, saying it has no advantages save for those who can't drive stick, and then back it up with false and incomplete information. The fact is, the comparison to ABS / DSC is completely valid, and it's quite clear he has no qualms about himself driving with those aids. He's someone who can't drive without ABS, yet he's quite prepared to bash any SMG fan calling them "someone who can't drive without stick".

Mr. Grinch
08-21-2001, 06:19 PM
Andreas and Lordy aren't going around saying "Stick drivers are doomed" or judging other people's driving abilities by what transmission they chose.

Jay made the comment SMG is for those who can't drive stick. Clearly a comment on both the transmission and the people who drive it.

It seems quite a clear-cut difference to me.

08-21-2001, 06:34 PM
I don't disagree at all with that. Jay's statement "<i>There is no advantage to SMG compared to a manual transmisison, except that it is easier to drive for those that can't drive stick</i>" isn't true. I don't disagree that the SMG can do things more efficiently and consistently than a human. Disagreeing with that would be as silly as saying computers don't help any of us and all US businesses/government should go back to pen and paper. I just didn't find cliff's post offensive in the same nature. I understood his comment about the M3 w/manual as him stating his preference but I could be wrong. Hopefully he can reply here and clarify more what the intent of his comments were.

08-21-2001, 06:47 PM
No that's not true, the argument comes from both sides. I've seen many a post also where someone says they enjoy manual more and were met with flames that new technology is absolutely better and the only way to go is SMG. Those same people would argue that SMG is more fun (amusing since they haven't even driven it) than stick. How do you argue with someone on what they find more fun? I agree with everything you said but add that there are people who make ridiculous claims from both sides of the debate.

What I think is important is to allow those very few who have actually driven the system (cliff, Andreas, Lordy and BenFR) to express their opinions without flames. I want to hear both opinions of SMG but at this current environment I think people won't bother because of the accompanying flames. I would just like to see a more objective attitude from everyone, both SMG and manual fans. Otherwise the discussion becomes one-sided and useless.

08-21-2001, 06:48 PM
I'm not defending Jay, I don't agree with his comments.

Mr. Grinch
08-21-2001, 08:34 PM

08-21-2001, 09:47 PM
You have it exacltly right. Jeff said that he has "seen nothing critiquing how it actually drives and feels" so I gave my impression about how it drives and feels. My impression is just that, my impression. Some people may think that driving a school bus is more rewarding and sporty than driving an M3 or ferrari. I would tend to go with the M3 or ferrari for a sporty car, but if they enjoy driving the school bus more there is nothing I can do to stop them. I don't think I would be out of line saying something like "based on my experience people should drive a M3 rather then a school bus". Yes, there would be some people who would disagree, but that would be my critique about how the vehicals compare.
It is the same with this SMG vs regular manual debate. In my opinion, a bently should be driven with an automatic b/c it is meant to be a car that you sit in and get pampered in while driving. Everything in a car like a bently should make the driver forget that he's driving a car and make it feel like he's laying in bed. I also have the opinion that a sports car should be driven with a regular manual. Despite comments from others to the contrary, I do not find SMG rewarding to drive and I find that it greatly takes away my driving pleasure. I just can't enjoy working the SMG system. I felt like I was playing a video game when I drove with it. The only reason I could see getting it would be if you drove in stop and go traffic on a regular basis, but the problem with that is if you drive in stop and go traffic on a regular basis why are you getting a sports car?
I understand that there are those who disagree and I don't have any problem with that. I do have a problem with them shutting out those that do not share their point of view, or putting up websites devoted to telling people that have no experience in the matter that SMG is definitely better and there is no reason to get a manual. If these people want to post their point of view, that's fine, but if someone asks "I have never heard of SMG, is that the right thing for me?" you should not direct them to your website or faq and pass it off as some objective, clear cut answer to their question.
I hope this sets aside any confusion any of you may have about the nature of my previous post

08-22-2001, 01:03 AM
This is one incredible thread here.

I do really wonder, how many of all of you "EXPERTS" on SMG did actually ever drive a M3 with SMG??? If we would get that number straight then there could possibly be a smarter way to discuss the topic. And by "actually drive an M3 with SMG", I do mean what I say because there are many posts also in other threads about the topic of people claiming they did drive it, where I do find it very hard to believe that this is a fact.

Fact is: there are people who like stick (enjoy it) and there are people who like SMG (have fun with it guys). Each one has his very own reasons for liking whatever option he chose. Where I think most of you here are FOS is the fact, that close to none of you have had the chance to thoroughly test the SMG-box, but brags around here how much better or worse one or the other option is.

A further point in my own opinion is, that to test an SMG, it is not enough to take the car for a spin around the block. Even an extended drive in the hills still leaves questions open. Me for a fact, I drive an E36 M3 with SMG since 3 years and it took me a couple of days or even weeks after I bought it to fully get to enjoy it and also to get the best out of it. But now I do love it and I patiently (grrrr...) waiting for my E46 with SMGII. I actually told the dealer "never mind if you forget any other option that I put into my order, as long as the SMG is on the list".

So enough said (or almost). With SMG it is like with every new technological evolution. When it first appears, people are scared of it, taking them out of some routine. Eventually however, I firmly believe that in 10 years or so, with a sports car like an M3, there will not be such a discussion, as it will be the way most of the manufacturers will go.

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