No More Dual-Clutch Transmissions in BMWs, With Manuals Soon to Follow

Makers of the “Ultimate Driving Machine” have ditched the DCT

BMW car driving fast on side of mountain
What does this mean for the much-loved manual gearbox?
BMW/Uwe Fischer

There was a time when hearing a car had a dual-clutch transmission was something to brag about. Reserved for the most exciting sports cars, the dual-clutch would be fitted with cars that needed its gears to shift at fractions of a second, much quicker than a standard automatic and far faster than a mere mortal with a manual. 

These days, however, automatic gearboxes have evolved to the point where they’re just as fast, if not faster, than the DCT — and BMW is done with them. 

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In speaking to Top Gear, Dirk Hacker, Head of Development at BMW M stated “the double clutch, from BMW M’s point of view these days, it’s gone.” He went on to say that the discussion came around the M5 sport sedan and that the decision to leave DCT behind and go with an automatic was “not only because of cost, but also because of comfort. Because we got a lot of reactions about maneuvering, parking, no rolling if you leave the pedal and so on.”

Hacker says beyond being more customer-friendly, the 8-speed automatic that BMW currently fits in the super-sporty 543-horsepower M4 CSL performs better than a DCT on top of that. “It’s faster shifting and on the other side, we also use this automatic in the new M4 GTR race car,” Hacker said.

So what does that mean for the much-loved manual gearbox? For now, it’s safe in the current M2, which has a ways to go before fading out. After that, it’s anyone’s guess, but Hacker hints that its days are numbered. “It’s now manual or automatic, and automatic electrified for the future.”

This is in line with BMWs increasing moves into electrification. Current vehicles like the i4, i7 and iX are proving to embody all of what people expect from a Bimmer, so the loss of a manual might be acceptable so long as these satisfy their branding as “The Ultimate Driving Machines.”

Manual gearboxes have long been under threat, so it’s not much of a surprise to learn that rowing your own gears in a BMW will soon be a thing of the past. Manufacturers like Toyota, in the meantime, have hopes that they can keep the manual alive in an EV world, albeit more in spirit than in actual function.

As for the DCT, it currently lives on as an important component in vehicles like Porsche, where it’s known as the Porsche Doppel Kupplungs getriebe or PDK while sibling brand Audi has its S-Tronic double-clutch in use. With that said, these are also brands making big leaps into the world of electricity, so while the DCT kicks on for now, it, along transmissions as a whole, could be going the way of the engine starting crank sooner than we think.

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