F10 M5: First M5 to have fully automatic transmission

15 Feb

By Matt McCarron

Motor Trend announced yesterday the upcoming F10 M5 will be the first M5 in the history of the motorsport division to have a fully automatic transmission, with manumatic controls. This might come as quite a shock to many BMW M enthusiasts, many of which thought the F10 M5 would be equipped with either BMW’s Duel Clutch Transmission (DCT) or an updated version of the Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG), the latter being featured on the E60 M5.

F10 M5 Winter Testing: Courtesy motorauthority.com

The announcement of the automatic-only transmission is only the latest in a series of changes and developments that will make the new M5 very different from its predecessors. All previous generations of the BMW M5 have featured manual transmissions. The E28, E34 and E39 M5’s were only offered with a traditional manual transmission. The most recent generation, the E60 was developed for use with the SMG. However, after BMW received numerous letters from the U.S., insisting the car have a manual option, BMW chose to acknowledge their customers and offered the car with the option. All European-spec E60 M5’s were SMG only vehicles. In addition to the automatic-only transmission, the F10 M5 will also be the first M5 to utilize forced-induction technology. The F10 M5 will be powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8.

These two changes, the automatic transmission and forced-induction engine have forced BMW M to take a considerable, calculated risk with the F10 M5. Since BMW M began to produce production vehicles in the early 1980’s, their cars have been associated with having certain characteristics that distinguished M cars from the competition. Namely being naturally aspirated high-revolution engines, and features, such as a manual transmission, allowing the driver to be as connected to the vehicle as possible.

In choosing to move away from naturally aspirated engines and manual transmissions BMW risks losing some of their clientele, but might be able to attract new customers in the process.  Is it possible for a company to change many aspects of their philosophy, and keep true to their overall mission? BMW enthusiasts, M owners and the automotive industry will just have to wait and see.

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