2009 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW M3: I Really Like M DCT, But --

December 10, 2009

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In the summer of 2008, I spent a week driving a 2008 BMW M3 convertible with BMW's M DCT seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. The M3 convertible is too heavy to be taken seriously as a Motorsport division plaything, but that automated manual gearbox is good, very good, and maybe my favorite of all the twin-clutch transmissions I've tried.

In traffic, the M DCT was almost as smooth as an automatic, and there even seems to be a slight "creep" factor programmed in for parallel parking. But on back roads, where you really should be spending most of your time with any M3, the transmission almost takes your breath away with the quickness, sharpness and border-line violence of its gearchanges.

So why I do drive around in our 2009 M3 sedan, working the rubbery linkage of its six-speed manual gearbox, thinking to myself, "Well, if I had to choose, I'd take the conventional six-speed..."?

Answer: Because I am stupid. And have too much pride. I insist on doing my own shifting, even if I'm not as quick or as smooth. I want to be slower through the canyon and around the road course.

(In all seriousness, though, M DCT shouldn't be your choice if you're wanting to be the quickest out of the hole. If you read our test, you'll remember that its launch control is tricky to use and deactivates itself as soon as the clutches get hot. You'll get a harder launch with the regular six-speed.)

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,489 miles

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