In Reply to: 89-93 5 spd manual vs auto?How well do they shift posted by JD on January 26, 2000 at 15:40:54:
You'll have to just drive them both. I have owned automatic and manual Volvos and BMW's. I have owned 2 e28 series cars with 5 speeds and they were both very positive and robust. I do not participate in any club events or driving schools. I do drive quite spiritedly. They both were notchy in first gear when cold until I switched to REDLINE, after that they were both very smooth. The shifter bushings and various parts do begin to wear after time resulting in vague (rowing) shift patterns. This is easily repaired and enhanced with a short shift kit and the replacement of the various parts that do wear. The clutch seems to be bullet proof, as all the clutches in my bimmers lasted 110,000 miles or longer before needing replacement.
The automatic: When I had to replace my last BMW, all I could find was the auto (4 speed auto with lockup torque converter, non electronic). I had heard all the horor stories but bought it anyway as the car was absolutely beautiful and well maintained. I converted the ATF fluid to Mobil 1 synthetic right away. The transmission is very smoothe and responsive. It does give up some in performance but not enough to matter to me. The rest of the car is just as responsive, comfortable, and enjoyable (bordering on fun) as the stick equiped car. I almost enjoy being able to drink coffee or OJ on the way to work without the 'excitement' of doing the same with the stick. The 535 cars had the electronic tranny which is both good and bad (more electronics), the later automatic boxes are adaptive to your driving style. If you are agressive so are they. Quarter mile times and top speeds are closer to the stick in these models. You can also 'chip' the tranny just as you would the ecu. I have not heard much about performance gain with the chip.
I live in Atlanta and Chattanooga and often remember how much fun it is to drive a stick in Chattanooga (mountain roads in early morning), then I remember what a burden it can be in Atlanta traffic. Maybe a good sequencial automatic is the answer for me. Hmmmm, that means digging deep into my pockets. After having both, I want both. I do not beleive that either is problematic (my experience), look for good service records including the transmission and dif servicing.
89 525ia 164,000 and shifting smooooooooothe