Following the announcement of the new BMW M3 Convertible earlier this week comes news of the carmaker’s first dual-clutch transmission, which is set to make a simultaneous debut in the M3 Coupe and Sedan as well as the drop-top. BMW has raised the bar by introducing a seven-speed version of the increasingly popular gearbox design, promising to deliver optimum gearshifts and faster acceleration (than the conventional six-speed manual), while at the same time reducing fuel consumption.
The gearbox is linked with the M3’s Drivelogic system and its eleven electronically controlled driving programs. There are five shift programs for automatic mode and six shift programs for manual mode including the revered launch control system. When in manual mode, the driver can either shift gears using the gearstick or by flicking a set of paddles located on the steering wheel. Right paddle to shift up and left paddle to shift down.
The M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic combines two gearbox components in a common housing but is no bigger than a conventional manual ‘box. The ‘heart’ of the new M double-clutch transmission in technical terms is formed by the two oil-cooled wet clutches. One of the two clutches is for the even (2, 4, 6), the other for the uneven (1, 3, 5, 7) gears and, in addition, for the reverse gear.
While driving, one of the two clutches is always closed, the other is open. When accelerating – and when shifting down – the clutches are activated in an alternating process, one after the other. When shifting gears, therefore, the first clutch opens just as the second clutch is closing.
First drives of the cars equipped with the new transmission aren’t scheduled until after the Geneva Motor launch next month, so we’ll have to wait until then to see the performance numbers of the new unit. But we think it’s safe to assume acceleration numbers will be a few tenths quicker than the current manual models.