My decision is certainly made far easier by only offering the SMG for the first model year. In a strange way, I am grateful to BMW deciding for me as I would need considerable therapy to deal with the psychological trauma of having to make this very difficult choice.
I was a 'you'll have to pry that manual out of my cold, dead hands' guy.
Now, with all the reviews, I'm willing to give the SMG III a try. I figure if I don't like it, I can trade in the car for a manual later. I sure as hell am not going to wait for another 2 years to get my M5!
No I actually have a non SMG E46 M3. I have spent a lot of time in SMG M3s both around town and on the track, and I find they system very good.
The only rough part of the SMG II system is the harshness under low or part throttle at medium speeds. It gets a little jerky, but nothing too bad. If the SMG III system is even better then I think its a no brainer.
Personally I think the biggest factor to driving an SMG car smoothly is the driver. You have to learn how to drive it, much like you have to learn how to drive a manual, or a true auto. Once you get used to the car and know how it is going to behave, it works great.
I am firmly in the SMGIII camp. The initial reports uniformly have complemented not only the system's quickness but also its notable improvement in smoothness over SMGII. Considering that the M5 was designed to work specifically with SMGIII, and that the automatic mode will provide welcome relief when fighting traffic (a significant bonus to you, me and everyone else who deals with DC roads), the choice for me gets easier all the time.
I must admit I am more interested in v3 of SMG after the reports. What I find especially interesting is more than one commentary about how fast the engine revs and how fast they fall. I believe in system optimization so I think this V10 might really be set up for SMG and not well suited to a stick shift. My criticism of SMG is that on public roads, where you are not driving at 10/10ths, and therefore there is more room to "goof-off" while driving that it will not be as entertaining as stick shift. I am with Wolverine in that a good strategy would be to get the SMG car now and if I felt the stick shift would make for more fun, then just get back on the list. The price of this would be either lease payments or depreciation- not a bad price to pay. I also can't believe I am saying this, but an added factor for some of us who are adding to the stable is that I have 2 stick shift cars now and maybe adding variety also has merit. All I know is when I am done typing this I am re-confirming with the dealer! I think the mechanicals of the M5 & M6 are very exciting!
I have a manual 330 and a SMG M3. Just by virtue of the gearbox I end up driving my 330 95% of the time. Hopefully the SMG III will be better than the SMG II on my M3. That and since my dad is the one actually getting the M5 and is an old timer who doesn't want to clutch.
After driving 3600km (2250miles) with my new M5 E60 my strong recommendation is SMG!!! The SMG is a huge part of the fun driving this car. I guess I shift 3 times more often than neccesary bcs it so fun. When you drive fast on small curvy roads you drive with both hands on the steering wheel which makes you a safer driver. It is also very easy to down shift before the curv begins.
The SMG makes the car safer if you on slippery roads (wet or winter) bcs if you down shift to a lower gear and the rear wheels starts to loose their grip the SMG automaticly opens the clutch.
When you down shift the engine automaticly revs up to be able to put in the gear at correct rpm- it sounds fantastic!
One thing is also sure - the six manual M5 will be slower in accelaration. No launch control, less gears means slower a slower car. If you have a six manual gearbox you will be beaten by the M5 SMG. Would you like that?
The SMG shifts gears faster than you will be able to do. And it makes no mistakes- no faulty gear change with engine damage as result.
It has an automatic mode to use when you want. For example in rush hour.
If you dont know what to choose: Drive SMG M5 before taken any decision. Come to Sweden and I will give you a test drive.
At the outset, let me say that I really enjoy pure-play manual transmissions: I have two highly modified Porsche turbos and they are great fun to drive. I had a manual (stick) in my 2002 E46 M3 and I loved it. But, as I was starting to plan for the SMG M5, I decided to trade my M3 for a new M3 with SMG so that I could get a better sense of SMG and also train myself on it. I've driven my 2004 SMG M3 for approximately 8 months now and I must say that I like it a great deal. In fact, I love the car. To drive a SMG car well (with smoothness) takes practice; it is a very nice alternative to the 6-speed stick manual. Based on my experience with both versions of the M3 and what I've read about SMG III on the M5, I can't wait. Bottom line, I would not even consider a stick with the E60 M5 given its power band and torque characteristics: No question, it just has to be SMG!
If I was in the financial position to own an M5 right now, I would take a look at the SMG, but would probably end up with a stick. SMG trannys are really slick, fun to listen to downshifts etc, but then again so is driving stick well. Would a stick be slower? Most likely, but then again the E60 is so ungodly fast anyway that I dont think I would have an issue with it.
If I had the money, I might be inclined to buy one with SMG, when I grew tired of it I would sell it for a very little depreciation hit, and then get what I wanted. I just dont see the fun in tapping paddles.
That car is just AWESOME!!! or maybe insane is a better word! Still a little bit shaky after a short trip in the new M5...... Thanks alot Gustav, you've made april the best month so far this year!! Nice meeting you and your friend in person too!
Did some higway runs to compare, did'nt stand a chance, that car just pulls away, an you can see the rear end go down for each gearshift, no matter what speed. **** I want one of those!
The exterior is looks very good, much better in real life than on pictures. The inside might take some getting used to with the e60 dash layout, but I liked it the moment I sat in the car, except for the empty space above the shifter.
I'm really looking forward to the full report and some videoclips
We speculated on the stick shifts gearing. Since its for the USA, isnt it possible they will gear it so 1st is still a torquey gear- the place I think you lose it is in the 7th gear. Now 6th has to be more of a compromise/ over drive gear. This really comes down to such a personal thing. I will say that I get such a great thrill when executing a perfect heel/toe downshift right before a bend. If it was going to be one car to do it all, Id want a stick shift. Its just more fun. Certainly not faster. Winning the stop light war is not important to me. If it is, I think the AMGs will be easier for most people- just plant your right foot whenever you wan it. With SMG, you still have to trigger launch control.