Oh boy! I was going to leave this one alone and come back in three weeks with a “scientific” test. But I’ll try to address the topic of the BMW six-speed manual transmission based on my recent M2 driving experience. Some of you might be aware of the Throttle House review with the six-speed manual G87 M2. If you haven’t seen it, here are the main points. James (and Thomas at some point) was having some issues with power at low rpms. He was driving in 2nd gear, slowed down to 18 mph and then went full throttle. Apparently, there was a lack of adequate power there. Next, he was driving at 30 mph and shifted into 4th gear while pushing the pedal to the metal. He once again claimed, and showed in the video, that there wasn’t enough power to accelerate quicker.
Of course, that sparked an endless post on Bimmerpost (no pun intended) and some of that feedback was shared with me as well. Now I don’t have the power band charts for the S58 in the G87 M2, but I did ask BMW M for that data to compare it against the very same engine in the M3/M4. Yet, I do recall a conversation with a BMW engineer who said that, of course, the power delivery and transmission tuning is software adjusted in the M2 to reflect the car’s character and size. Unfortunately, I didn’t drill enough into that information because I didn’t foresee any major implications.
The good ol’ six-speed manual
I revisited my driving footage – available here – to determine if I encountered any power-related difficulties with the six-speed manual. I distinctly recall conversing with a journalist from a mainstream car outlet the previous night, who commented on how effortless it was to operate the manual and how it was not a significant concern during both daily driving and cornering. But I don’t recall anything weird being said about this six-speed manual other than its typical character.
So this one use case where my vast experience behind the wheel of BMW cars might have stopped me from paying more attention to the gearing. What do I mean by that? Well, this is the very same six-speed manual that I’ve been enjoying in my 1M, then in the F87 M2, followed by the G80/G82 M3/M4, and now in the G87 M2. Of course, it has been slightly refined over time – mostly software tuning – but its DNA has not changed, in my opinion.
The six-speed manual gearbox in question has a stiff and rubbery feel, which takes several drives to become accustomed to. Its clutch has a high engagement point, and during initial use, it can result in rough and jerky shifts in lower gears. Moreover, the gear ratios are high, particularly in first gear, which I feel could be shorter to facilitate quicker shifts into second gear. Over time, I have realized that to obtain smooth shifting from this six-speed manual, I must hold the clutch at the grab point for a few milliseconds longer with no throttle input. Furthermore, the engine revs in first gear are not optimal for the second gear, rendering first gear useless in many situations. Therefore, I mostly shift immediately into second gear. Also for some reason, every time I drove a manual BMW after it was broken in, let’s say in a future test drive after the initial launch, I felt that clutch engagement and travel was better. Placebo effect? Not sure.
However, these are lessons that I have internalized, and they come to mind every time I operate a manual BMW. So it’s possible when I drove the manual G87 M2, my brain was already trained to account for these alleged shortcomings. But in this case, I have not felt at anytime that the car was lagging, also possibly because I was constantly down-shifting to be ready to floor the pedal.
In the end, my review highlighted my excitement for the manual M2. Not necessarily because it’s a better or worse transmission than the 8-speed automatic, but mostly because it’s more engaging, even in its own quirky way. Additionally, as I said, this is the last M2 of its kind and most likely, the last manual M car.
Plan of action for next M2 review
With that being said, here is the plan to test the Throttle House theory. In the next few weeks, I will drive again a six-speed manual G87 M2, but paired with an 1M, an F87 M2 Competition and an M4 manual. I’ll make a point to replicate exactly the Throttle House scenario and record that on camera. Of course, I’ll take notes as well and share them in a future article.
I hope this provides some clarification in response to some inquiries. Several forum members insinuated a possible conspiracy among media outlets to avoid covering the matter because, and I quote, “the media is flown there, wined and dined, and they don’t wanna be uninvited from the next event.” Far from the truth and my personal experience is that BMW has never asked me to change my reviews nor was I questioned about the negative tone, yet objective tone in some articles.
I believe any company, whether in the automotive industry or not, would appreciate receiving honest feedback and reviews from the media. It demonstrates respect and provides valuable insights into whether the product has met its objectives, or if improvements are necessary.
P.S. We’re planning a podcast with Throttle House in the near future (at my request) and we will tackle this topic as well. James and Thomas are fantastic content creators, experienced reviewers and drivers, and I can’t wait to hear their thoughts on cars in general. This is not damage control though. I was planning on inviting them for a long time, but since we drove the M2 and XM together, it would be fun to compare notes.