Re-evaluating BMW's SMG Transmission in 2023

I recently spent a weekend driving a BMW E46 M3 (yes, again), but this time it was a little different: this one was equipped the oft-derided, frequently mocked, resale-value-poisoning Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG).

A slow-shifting paddle-shift gearbox with Pentium-age processing power must be even worse to drive today... right? Or maybe it's a revelation: an electro-hydraulic gem of analog wizardry, perfectly-matched to the M3's raspy inline-six.

You can read my in-depth impressions over on FCP Euro:
Rediscovering The BMW SMG Transmission: A Hidden Gem or Obsolete Relic?


  • Thanks for your insight and appreciate the comment! It’s definitely a unique gearbox, and I’m glad to have had the experience with it.

    Kevin McCauley
  • I enjoyed your article about SMG transmissions! Believe it or not, BMW put them in regular 325i’s. Not sure how many but I know of one 2004 model. My now wife had it when we started dating. When I first rode it in she was flicking the shifter constantly. I wondered, what the hell?? As I got to know her and the car ( l did a lot of work on that needy thing) I actually liked it. Once I realized you have to drive it like you would a 3 pedal manual the experience improved. We rarely drove it in auto mode because of the jerkiness. On hills I would hold the brake with my left foot to give it time to let the clutch out. At about 150k miles the engine started drinking oil so we ditched it.

    Brad Kuller

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