October 04, 2010
The whole shift-by-wire thing has been slowly making its way into luxury cars over the past several years and I still can't get used to it. I'm talking about automatic shifters that aren't really connected to the transmission. Instead, they're just oversized toggle switches that send signals to the transmission computer to shift up or down.
In the BMW, the shifter doesn't actually move, you just bump it forward for reverse and pull it back for drive. For park, you push the button. After several hundred miles behind the wheel, I'm starting to get used to it, sort of.
Still, it's one of those things that seems complicated for no apparent reason. Sure, it makes for slightly more efficient packaging, but just how much room did BMW save with this design? There are other reasons too, but shouldn't something that you touch every time you get in the car have some sway over other less prominent features? I think so.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 1,298 miles