• Apr 14, 2008
Are transmissions a new battlefront in the war for customers amongst high end brands? Mercedes has been doing seven ratios for a little while, and Lexus has a new 8-cogger on offer, too. BMW's not content to be trailing with just 6 speeds, so the new 7-series (F01) will reportedly ship with an 8-speed automatic transmission. If high fuel prices and tightening emissions and consumption requirements manage to snuff out our recent horsepower battles, gear ratios are all we'll have left.

BMW's 8-speed fits in the same space as the old 6-speed, and is said to be smoother and more efficient than the outgoing gearbox. Perhaps more important than the greater ratio spread and increased fuel economy that the new transmission will bring is the shifter moves back to the console (cue choir of heavenly angels). Expect the new 8-speed and its modular design to wind up in many BMW vehicles after its initial launch in the upcoming 7-series.

[Source: Bimmerfile, Photo: Bimmerfile]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Will they stop with these freaking automatics? Slush boxes should be dead now that DSGs exist. BMW get with the programme!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I totally agree. If possible, would all car makers please give up the obsolete slush box. Nissan managed to put DSG into the torqueful GT-R. I really don't see how BMW isn't putting DSG into the next 7..... and every BMW.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Since they usually show up only in higher-performance models right now, DSGs aren't widespread enough for automatic transmissions to be considered obsolete yet. Give them time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If anything, the double clutches should 'die'

        You have limited ratio spread with double clutch transmissions.
        and it is still a manual transmission, and if the computer mispredicts a gear transition, or a gear isn't pre-selected, it isn't any faster than automatics.


        Stop calling automatics 'slush boxes'
        Lockup torque converter took care of one part of that pejorative, the removal of overrunning clutches took care of the other part.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What the deuce! Is this a semi-truck or a car?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oh, and the 7-series already had the shifter on the column (cue angels).

      Everyone else should follow. They should have followed a long time ago. Unless you're tracking your car, you don't need a console shifter, and track cars will migrate toward paddles anyway.

      Let's reclaim that wasted console space (and probably turn it over for cupholders, sadly).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Audi might just come up with a 9-speed for the next A8, ya never know.
        • 6 Years Ago
        http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/mb/MaschElem/e-automat.php?druck

        7.5:1 ratio spread.
        If the axle ratio is left unchanged, that new 1st gear would be 18% shorter.
        THAT could make for some seriously necksnapping launches!
        • 6 Years Ago
        actually, Audi has been allowing journalists to drive an S5 fitted with a 7 speed DSG. It should replace conventional autos across their line very soon.
      • 6 Years Ago
      How does the weight of an 8-speed compare with a six-speed? Is this another step in the porkification of the modern automobile?
        • 6 Years Ago
        speaking of efficiency, i'm surprised that whenever a new transmission (i'm talking about the lexus 7 speed, mercedes 7 speed, bmw 7 speed and now 8 speed) is introduced, it is always put in a gasoline car (if i'm not mistaken i've only seen 6 gears in a diesel)... wouldn't there be greater benefit if implemented in a diesel? if so, why always in a gas car? the only one i can think of is that the gas engines are more up-market so that is where the innovations go first.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No, the Germans are getting on the supercruise bandwagon. [I hope]

        Lets say 6th gear (1:1) is 30mph / 1k
        In a little car like the BMW 135i, 150mph@5000 is no problem (other than 10mpg) 165mph@5500 is do-able (stock, even 168 mph@5600 is probably a realistic top speed)

        So lets say you aren't doing a top speed run, then what.
        7th & 8th gear (0.84 & 0.67) 36mph / 1K, 45mph / 1K

        Lets see if you can get 25mpg@100mph (just a tick over 2200 rpm) in 8th. and then up that to see if you can get 15mpg@150mph.
        and you are probably drag limited (stock) to 155mph in 8th gear
        • 6 Years Ago
        True, the article says that with fuel consumption becoming important, the only thing we have left is gear ratios.

        Yeah, and WEIGHT. I'm guessing this weighs even more. It may make back its weight in efficiency, but there are a lot of other parts left to lighten.
      • 6 Years Ago
      love those 4 speed toyotas, scions, chevys, etc
      • 6 Years Ago
      How about putting a 6-spd manual in the F01 7-series?
        • 6 Years Ago
        DSG's aren't quite right for ultra luxry cars, they still aren't as smooth as slushboxes.

        Diminishing returns don't matter in the world of ultra luxury, its about bragging rights.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The technical world is in agreement that 6 speeds marks the point of diminishing returns, yes? I remember a report stating that after 6, fuel economy ekes up by less than 1%.

      Doesn't Mercedes' 7-speeder already trip on its own dumb ass in daily driving?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I respectfully disagree.
      In a barge like a 7 series Bimmer or an S Class Benz, a stick of any type makes little sense. People do not by the big German sedans because they are performance stars. They buy them because they are status symbols. I would venture that almost all, if not all, S Class and 7 series sold are slushboxes.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If you're talking about new 7 series and S-classes, you are correct, at least in America. The current gen of both are sold with auto only; if you want a manual, you have to go to Audi's A8/S8.
      • 6 Years Ago
      With all the issues surrounding CVT (a concept that I love) it almost makes sense to make an eight speed automatic.
      • 6 Years Ago
      4-Speed Auto FTW!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, but in the false paradigm of the 4 speed auto, what do you favor?
        close ratios, or wide ratio spread.
        Say GM's 4L80: 2.482, 1.482, 1, 0.75 (3.3 ratio spread)
        or GM's 4L60: 3.059, 1.625, 1, 0.696 (4.4 ratio spread)

        One way you are lacking ratio spread, the other it is like jumping off the rim of the Grand Canyon when you shift.

        (yes I know, the 4L80 is really a 3 speed + overdrive)
      • 6 Years Ago
      all this one-upmanship is getting ridiculous. reminds me of that snl mach 3 razor parody. i think at one point they had a 12 blade razor. i think we're at 5 blades now. lol...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually the Gillette Fusion has 6 blades (one in the back) but I get your point.

        Back to the subject, can you imagine how long the shifter has to travel if it didn't have the manu-matic or the paddle shifters?
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