I've had both a 2002 M3 with traditional manual transmission and a 2004 M3 with SMG. I have driven manual transmission cars for many years. In addition to my SMG M3, I also drive a 1991 Porsche 964 turbo Ruf BTR conversion; a 2002 996 turbo with a number of modifications and a Mitsubishi Evo VIII RS, all with manual transmissions. I give this listing only for purposes of establishing that I like high performance cars with manual transmissions. Having said that, I must say that I really look forward to driving my SMG M3. To those who suggest that SMG takes no skill to drive well, I would suggest they have probably never driven one or they don't drive them as well as they think they do. SMG is VERY entertaining and it permits, in my view, an even deeper dgree of appreciation for other aspects of the car. It allows for haigher concentration on other aspects of the drive, for example. I typically do not use the auto shift function. I seem to favor S5 or S6. The transmission shifts fast, it downshifts perfectly, if and when you as the driver both choose the proper time to shift and properly control the throttle. By the way, Audi's DSG works even better in my opinion, but that's a whole other topic. Bottom line, different strokes for different folks. For me, I want SMG III on my E60 M5, a 6-speed manual with the high RPM characteristics of the M5 wouldn't be nearly as interesting...to me.