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540i auto vs. manual -long- (archive)

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Posted by Norm on January 28, 2000 at 23:26:28:

Considering buying 540i sport (6spd) but got confused after visiting (re: 1998 model):

First, before I start - I know the decision is all mine and I should really drive both to see for myself. But I'd really appreciate opinions of those who have experience already to help me decide.

Quote1: "The 540i that competed in our last comparison test suffered from a balky six-speed manual transmission. The clutch was constantly slipping between first and second gears, and it generally made our lives a driving hell in urban corridors. Nevertheless, we were impressed by the rest of the car enough to forgive this one transgression (or transmission, in this case). Still, the thought in the back of everyone's mind was, "How would an automatic perform?" Now we know. The 540i's automatic transmission is simply better than its manual counterpart. That statement is difficult to comprehend until one drives them both, but it's true."

Quote2: "Devotees of the manual transmission and believers in its importance to sporting driving should clutch their chests, gasp deeply and sit down hard. We absolutely despised the 540iís six-speed manual. OK, take a deep breath, and weíll explain. In West Los Angeles, the car was virtually impossible to drive smoothly. Clean launches that didnít snap passengersí necks or require excessive slipping of the clutch proved elusive. Modulating the clutch to ensure a smooth shift from first gear into second stymied our test drivers. But once in third gear, the BMW behaved in a more characteristically composed manner."

So do you guys who have driven both manual and automatic agree? For automatic, would steptronic be a better choice? Or maybe they fixed this "problem" in '99,'00' models?

Any opinions greatly appreciated!

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