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Fun Video: Fifth Gear- 135i vs. Cayman

Discussion in 'E81/E82/E87/E88 (2004-present)' started by 330indy1, Apr 4, 2008.

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    Yeah, but when you're just putzing..

    you have to put the starbucks in the cup holder to shift with a manual!;)

    But the trends are undeniable. We're at the crossover point where the newer trannies are better with the computer switching the gears. The point about liking the manual lever and engagement is just saying that one isn't ready for the change yet, and thats fine.

    You want REAL engagment? Take the synchros out of the manual box and go back to double clutching! ;) It really is personal preference....

    Matt
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    Brian A

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    A line has been crossed

    I disagree its "just saying that one isn't ready for the change yet." I am not sure where it was, but I feel somewhere back there, a line was crossed.

    The line was drawn long after synchromesh but probably before Dynamic Stability Control. We'll all have our differing opinions where the line was, but I think it can convincingly be argued that something is gone from modern cars.

    Sure, there is something thrilling about how a Double-Clutch Transmission can shift gears in 0.03 seconds. Likewise, for a few runs, using Launch Control to blast from 0 to 60 mph is thrilling. It is amazing to imagine the massive data flow through the fiber optic data bus during that 4 second scramble. After those first few times though, it must become clear it's just the computer accelerating the car; not the driver.

    For me, there is nothing more exhilarating than a perfectly executed 3-2 heel-and-toe downshift while "putzing" around a street corner in my E30. There is something tangible about it; speed, judgment, dexterity and machine all perfectly coordinated at a simple act. The act "consumes me" in that I am involved in it to my full capacity. There is a commitment to the act as well; I can screw things up. Maybe that's it; it is too "easy" in a modern car. No risk of blowing the engine with a DCT.

    Perhaps the line also relates to the loss of a tangible mechanical connection to the vehicle. There is some sort of primordial appeal of something overtly mechanical. It is not an "old person" versus "young person" or "technophile" versus "Luddite" thing. It isn't "just saying that one isn't ready for the change yet." It is human nature to want to make tools and have control over them. There is a palpable joy to figuring out how a shift linkage or throttle valve works. The joy comes from a feeling of control, of understanding and of knowledge of something in the face of a complex world.

    Where I am going with this logic is that I worry that the mechanisms of modern cars are too intangible to ever have that primordial appeal. That may be the line. Modern cars are four wheel computers. I use computers all day long. To a large degree, they are intangible; incomprehensible. I go to my car to escape computers; not to worship at their altar.

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    But you gotta admit..

    that's it's a very subjective definition of "the line that has been crossed". Your post, while eloquant and one that I basically agree with most of, also is placing the act of doing some of the things in driving above the value of increased performance. That's a fine position to hold, as many do, but it's far from an objective truth about driving or racing. It's just the way you like it and want it to be, and that's OK. But no where have a read that the one sole definition of "enthusiast driving" REQUIRES that one use a manual and hell toe.

    I think a lot of this is basically personal sweet spot. I'm sure that those that are just getting thier drivers licences while driving in the folks paddle shifters will think differently than we do, just as my uncle really though that the only real transmissions required double clutching.

    The nature of cars will change, maybe drastically, but the basic pleasure of driving will only change on the margin. At least that's how I see it.

    FWIW, as I learn more and more about the technical sophistication and prowess of the more modern systems (think the 3 liter twin turbo engine could ever run without grenading without the use of computer control?), I find myself wanting a bugeye sprite or 50s Alpha for vintage racing.

    Matt
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    Bimmerdan

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    I'm not convinced the line has actually been crossed yet but it's definitely coming into view! I love driving my 2002 for all the reasons Brian stated...there's something about being involved with, and in total control of, all the mechanical functions in the car...it's very rewarding. I think the line you are referring to involves a lot more than just the transmission though. The same could be said for power steering (we're letting the car do the work instead of our forearms), and for ABS brakes (again, the car is doing what we used to have to do ourselves), and for traction control. Each one of those has removed a little of our direct involvement with, and control over, the car but I'm glad to have to them because they make the car safer (and faster). I don't see that big a difference between these features and an automatic transmission. Now when they start forcing us to buy cars that automatically follow the sensors in the road so that you don't even touch the wheel....THAT'S stepping over the line!!
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    az3579

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    Well some things have become more of a necessity over the times and some things are just plain unnecessary.

    For example: how would you like to live in a city without power steering? I'm sure you'd rather just walk. ABS? That's really quite unnecessary. If you can stop on a track using nothing but threshold braking (and the help of a brake booster), then surely you can stop on a street without locking up. Some of the things have become items that we shouldn't be without, but things like Active Steering, Hill Descent Control, Lane Departure Control (or whatever it's called) are just toys and nothing more. I'd say a manual gearbox that has a user-operated clutch is still on the right side of the pond no matter how technologically advanced it is. If we had kept the options list the same on the current models as we did on the E36 for example, then the car would be sooo much cheaper and still be a good buy despite its prospective "lack" of technology.


    It's all the public's fault, really. Everyone's being pitched the "technology is good" and "you can't live without technology" lines and because of this, people are ignoring the basics of a car. Those who say "I just want a car to get me from A to B" and liars. If they weren't, then they'd be driving the cheapest Hyundai you can buy.




    Now that you think about it, even that car is loaded with technology... aaaaack.
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    Bimmerdan

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    I think some of it comes down to what you want and expect out of your car. When I'm on the track, I have no need for power steering, I turn the traction control off and I definitely have three pedals! When I'm commuting in really heavy traffic every day, I would prefer power steering, an automatic and I'll leave the traction control on (just in case).

    The vast majority of the motoring public won't even have a clue what threshold baking is so I'm very happy that most of them have ABS, traction control and every other electro-nanny there is because it protects me from their total lack of driving skill. You're absolutely right about it being the public's fault but for the car manufacturers it comes down to simple business...supply and demand.

    I do think a lot of BMW owners, including a lot of club members (I know because I've met them) do just buy the car to get from A to B. They still want to get from A to B in style and comfort but they will never track their car, they will never autocross it and in a lot of cases, they don't even drive "spiritedly". They buy the BMW instead of the Hyundai because they can (and there are still a lot of people buying them strictly as status symbols!). That's good for BMW but it will continue to feed the need for them to supply more and more gadgets in the cars.

    Enthusiasts can only hope that they will continue to pay attention to our little niche in the world and keep offering quick, nimble cars with manual transmissions and traction control that can be turned off.
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    az3579

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    The following is my opinion and is destined to not sit right with many of you, particularly those who purchased some of the models mentioned. I apologize but it's a stone I have to get off my chest.


    The thing about BMW that I've noticed is that they are getting a bit farther away from what they supposedly do best. Take the 3 series for example. The new 3-series has gotten so much heavier and so much more bloated that it is just becoming the same thing as every other car on the road. They have made some unmistakably "follow the crowd" decisions with their new model. Remember every other 3-series? Window switches were in the center console. Before the introduction of the Z4, they all had the proper circle instrument gauges and the center controls for radio and heating/air conditioning were angled toward the driver. These things made them unique to BMW and catered to more a niche market of people who enjoyed driving. At the time, the luxury was just a plus side as not many other cars were as luxurious as a BMW (or a Mercedes). Before the E46, the sight of a BMW was a rarer sight. Not rare, but rarer than your average Camry. Now, with the design aspect and sales angle BMW has taken, they want to appeal to more and more people. That's fine, but the problem with this is that to me, it seems they're diluting a particularly sporting company. I nearly cried when they introduced an SUV, the very thing we've got way too many of. Then another SUV. What I most fear now is them making a minivan, the very pinnacle of "just make anything that sells" and is the most atrocious thing I can think of.

    This mindset is just rediculous in my eyes. This mindset is the very reason they don't want to bring the fantastic 4-pot diesels and other great cars to our lineup, just because they think it won't sell. I understand that it's a company whose sole intention is the make money, but in my opinion, they were doing fine before making these "appeal to the masses" decisions.


    I fear that soon, not only will all BMWs be boats on wheels but they will become your typical family car that just any teenager can buy and rice out like your run-of-the-mill Honda Civic. The claim "I've got a Toyota Camry" is not spectacular because a Camry does not provide the appeal to enthusiasts because it has no "enthusiastic" qualities. Great on gas, cheap to maintain, will run forever. Where's the fun? Where's the sense that the car is something you can cooperate with when negotiating tricky corners on a track, in a city when the lights are about to go red, or trying to pull off a spectacular arrival at a particular function? These are things you can pull off in a BMW without crashing and maintaining that sense of balance. I fear that soon, these qualities will be gone and "every day" will be something you associate the roundel with.

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    Going further off topic...

    Well, I wonder how BMWs goal of doubling sales will affect the product offerings....

    Also, why not make a real drivers car, deconteted. no power windows or seats. Drop a lot of the power accessories. Drop some sound insulation and on and on. If there were a CSL version of the 1, that would scream! And the funny thing is, every time Porsche or BMW does this, they sell for MORE than the fully contented car!

    but this is every car makers dillema. Make the enthusiast niche car and not sell many (basically screw the shareholder and corporate growth) or "sell out" to make cars that sell in volume to the masses that really undermines the core enthusiasts that helped make the brand what it is. Really, there's no right answer.

    If you look at the Porsche Ceyanne, sure it's a sporty tubby overweight SUV that guzzles gas and really does surprisingly well in a "sports" role. And it mints money so that Porsche can make about a million variants of the 911. Is that a win win?

    And what to make of the X6? ;)

    Matt
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    330indy1

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    it is simply why I bought the z4M... it's as basic as they come these days.
    but not cheap.
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    az3579

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    Precisely. Instead of making these "special" models, they should just allow the option to remove these extras when ordering the car. Since they have to specially make these "CSL" models, they feel they reserve the right to jack up the price because they performed "more labor" to make the car as light and as lean as it is. Instead of looking at it like that, they need to look at it as though they save the labor by not putting these things in. Jacking up the price is pretty much an excuse on their part.

    Other car manufacturers just call that a basic car with no options, which it really is.

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    So true...

    I don't like hardtops with sunroofs (moonroofs?) cause I have a true ragtop in the garage. But I can't even order a 1 series without it! All the weight of that option is in just the wrong place!

    I could get my Mini without the sunroof. Saved 80 lbs right at the top of the car. Tipped the scales at 2613lbs too. Wouldn't it be nice if one could have a one series at that weight? That would be close to supercar power to weight ratio....

    Matt
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    Brian A

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    We are irrelevant

    I just returned from a business trip to Bimmerdan's fine city (Houston). There was a big conference in the city and (almost) not a hotel room or rental car was to be had. Avis gave me a free upgrade to a ragtop V6 Mustang (and I slept on the outskirts of town).

    The Mustang plowed, plowed, plowed. I don't think it was just that the Ford lawyers removed the front sway bar. The car didn't sway that badly; it just WOULD NOT turn. If I applied throttle, to at least bring the rear end around a little, an e-nanny would instantly cut power. Yeesh. Howz a guy to find fun ‘round George Bush Airport?

    Why the comments on the Mustang? Because Ford knows how to make it handle better. They have a lot of great chassis dynamics specialists. They could design - or copy - a better configuration than what they are selling. I am sure the reason they sell it configured the way they do is because, like for BMW, 99% of the their market doesn't care (or probably can't even tell) that it understeers massively. Zero to sixty time and top speed are all that John or Jane Q. Public cares about in terms of performance. That and how many horsepower it has, I suppose.

    Enthusiast drivers: we are irrelevant. I return to my original premise that the best enthusiast's cars have already been built.
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    az3579

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    As the great Jeremy Clarkson would agree, it's because it's American. :D
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    Brian A

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    I confess and repent

    Confession:
    I have never driven a 1 series so I must admit the comments in my prior post today are based on beliefs about what a car "should be" like. I guess I have just proven Dr O's point. I've driven a Z4 and didn't like it because you have to go too fast before it felt fast; my E30 feels like it is going fast, in a good way, at a civil 70 mph. Civil is good.

    Repentance:
    I will not disparage new cars again even though I think they are bad (oops; didn't make it to the end of the sentence). BMWs ARE drivers cars; the Mustang proves that. There no question that the new 135tii would blow the doors off of my rattley old E30 any way you tested it, as probably would any one of AZ's beloved Hyundais for that matter. New cars are incredibly competent. Mind bogglingly competent in fact.

    Since this thread started with a video clip; can anyone find the Top Gear clip (circa 2000-ish) where Vicki Butler-Henderson (an accomplished racer) flips out as she gets a ride in the two-seat Jaguar Formula 1 demo car?
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    az3579

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    Well... I've got the entire "new" Top Gear series starting from Season 1 all the way to Season 10. Don't have the "old" Top Gear though... sorry. :(

    Dr Obnxs guest

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    Well....

    I drove the Bullitt Mustang on the street, and was underimpressed. I drove it on a track and was surprised at it's competence.

    The new Challenger has a short-long dual A-arm front suspension, with a multi-link rear IRS.... Chassis is stiff and despite it's weight, it handles well. The american companies are starting to come around.

    If you want a Mustang that handles, go to Griggs.... http://gr40cars.com/models/gr40st.php

    Matt
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    Bimmerdan

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    Hey Brian, were you here for the OTC?

    Unfortunately, I think your post pretty well sums it up. The enthusiasts sector makes up such a small percentage of the overall market for most car companies that it doesn't make good fiscal sense for them to cater to it to any degree. For a company like Porsche though, the enthusiasts make up a much larger percentage of their market so they simply can't be ignored.
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    Brian A

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    Chacun à son gout.

    Nope was not in Houston for OTC, but learned just how big it is (18,000 attendees!!!)

    I am back! (Arrived last night.). Believe it or not; got a Sebring convertible this time. I'm downtown, so its unlikely I will find a safe place to safely run the car like the Mustang.

    Some categories of enthusiasts DO matter very much to the car manufacturers. They are the (deep pocketed) enthusiasts who love The State of The Art in speed, acceleration, general technology and appearance. They matter because they buy a new car every time the technology changes (i.e. every year).

    The enthusiasts that don't matter are the people (like myself) who enjoy the frugality of keeping an old car going, the hands-on tweaking with after market parts and tuners and even living within the constraints imposed by a certain vintage (manual shifting is not optimal considering how much better a computer can do it). Another category of enthusiast that don't matter are those who love Concours and clean car competitions (baffling to me). The bottom line is that we all find joy in different places. To each his own taste
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    330indy1

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    fed up

    New gen bimmers are about fast as well as quick. Unfortunately they're heavy also. What eats me up about the 1 is it weighs what my e46 weighs. That's progress?
    The autobahn breeding lends itself to the exec. express approach... hence the capable automatics. The 5, 6 and 7 series' are fast yet tranquil.... same with the 'x35' cars. Smooth and serene. and deceptive. The older cars let you feel the speed a bit more, as do the M's for the most part. Of course the monster torque in the newer engines also disguises the heft.
    A sub- 3000 lb. car with new gen. tech (engine/suspension) and less isolation would be a hit with enthusiasts (like us) but would it be commercially successful? This question reinforces the point that a 2002 today might not make it. :(
    Wouldn't it be great if the car manufacturers went 'lightweight' as the new trend (perhaps instead of hybrid) while maintaining safety, and made that part of their green pursuit??
    I don't see how the weight and toxicity of batteries is such a great thing.
    OK, I'll take a Starbucks break from the soapbox...

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