For over a decade, we’ve watched performance automakers ditch manual transmissions for automatic or dual-clutch transmissions for performance reasons. There’s no question, automatics can shift far, far faster than humans can with manuals. It’s not even close, actually. Or is it? Car and Driver recently tested the BMW M2 Competition with both a manual and a DCT and their 0-60 mph times were actually faster with the manual. Huh?

It doesn’t make any sense at first. BMW’s DCT is typically much faster than any manually-equipped Bimmer. So how could the all-new M2 Competition actually be quicker with a manual? The answer is apparently all in the launch. Which is even more unusual.

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Typically, dual-clutch gearboxes like BMW’s DCT are excellent at launching cars. Advanced launch control systems and uber-fast shifting automated clutches are superb at putting the exact amount of power down to the wheels to ensure the best possible launch. However, it seems BMW’s DCT has a hard time launching the M2 Competition as well as the previous M2, due to its extra wallop of torque. It’s still quick, getting from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat, but C&D was able to improve on that time with careful clutch modulation.

With the manual-equipped car, C&D was able to record a 3.9-second 0-60 mph time. That’s only one tenth of a second faster than the DCT car but that one tenth is a huge triumph for a manual gearbox and the driver. It seems as if careful launching with an actual clutch pedal is actually a bit more efficient at putting power down than the DCT’s brain.

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Before you go celebrating the return of the manual gearbox, understand that this is a very unusual case and might not even be repeatable in other circumstances. Still, it’s fun to see a rare win for the three-pedal box.

[Source: Car and Driver]