BMW fans miss Albert Biermann, that much isn’t a secret. During his watch, BMW M developed some genuinely incredible cars, such as the E92 M3 and 1 Series M. Biermann is now at Hyundai, where he helped turn both Hyundai and Genesis into great driving brands, but he left behind an incredible legacy at BMW M. One specific thing he was responsible for, and one that BMW fans adored, was actually the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which sadly is also now gone. In an old interview with MotoMan, Biermann dished on some of the secrets behind his time at BMW and the development of the DCT.
The BMW DCT wasn’t developed by Biermann or even by BMW. Instead, it was developed by Getrag, the German transmission maker. However, it was developed with input from Biermann and his team at BMW, to develop a specific DCT for the E93 M3 and beyond. In fact, BMW’s work with Getrag was so innovative that Ferrari actually began to follow, for the DCT in the 458 Italia.
When BMW M first debuted the DCT, fans were a bit apprehensive, due to the massive headache that was its previous flappy-paddle gearbox, the much-maligned SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox). The SMG was horrid; clunky, too slow to shift, dimwitted in automatic mode, and unreliable. It was absolutely hated by almost every BMW enthusiast. So when BMW said it was making a new fancy auto, fans groaned, fearing it would be another disaster. However, it wasn’t.
Instead, the BMW M DCT was one of the best transmission the brand ever put into production. In fact, looking back, it may be the best transmission ever fitted to a BMW. It featured one more gear than the old SMG—seven versus six—and another clutch. Not only were its shifts as rapid fire as BMW claimed but they were smooth. The DCT never felt choppy or cheap, like the SMG did. If you asked it to (by changing its software aggression), it would fire off shifts with snappy authority, making it feel faster and more exciting. But it was never sloppy. It was a sensational gearbox, one that fans wish was still around.
Rather than the DCT, modern M cars use a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. That’s right, the most violently exciting car BMW M currently makes—the M4 CSL—uses the same torque-converter slushbox as the 520d. Admittedly, it’s fine. It’s fast enough, silky smooth, and has brilliant shift logic and calibration. It works incredibly well but it lacks the fun and character of the DCT. So gone with Biermann is likely the best BMW M transmission ever.