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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I test drove a GrandSport for the first time today in Southern Cal. And, well, I came away pretty disappointed and confused. First, it is in nearly every way a glorious car. I love the looks, the cockpit, the driving position, the ride, the glorious sound, and the sensational engine and its enormous pulling power. It's hard to imagine a more satisfying Coupe. At the risk of offending Porschefiles, I found it much more visceral and subjectively faster than the 911S (I know about the numbers.)

But . . . the cambiocorsa sequential transmission on the car I drove was, certainly by BMW standards, primitive to the point of my wondering if it was defective. I should say, in advance, that all the driving I did was in Sport Mode, and was under the supervision of a nervous sales rep. I've read the threads bemoaning the difficulty of launching the car from a stop, but I sort of assumed that it really wouldn't just sit there forever in first before deciding to move. Little old ladies in Civics were on the other side of the intersection before the GranSport started moving on out. Is the choice really to just sit there as it decides to move, or to stomp on it like a street racer to get its rear moving (with all the attendant drama of smoke and squeal?)

The downshifts, moreover, were molasses slow. The sequential in my BMW 550i seems to downshift twice as fast, while the downshifts in my previous 2003 M3 (in S5, not even in the most extreme S6 setting) seemed four times as fast. Is this just the way it is? If so, the transmission just seems incompetent to me. And with a technology that is certainly mature for both Ferrari and BMW, inexcusable. Tell me I'm missing something, that the sales rep just didn't know how to set it up or tell me what to do, or that there must have been something wrong, or that I just messed up. Or at least tell me that there is a new twenty-first century sequential in the pipeline.

If anyone in Southern Cal thinks I've got this wrong, I'd love a demonstration, and would gladly swap a little driving in my Z4 M Coupe (serious fun).

She's still a beauty, and the engine is fabulous, but . . .
 

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hmmm... I am not an expert but isnt the sequential on a BMW is an automatic and the cabiocorsa is a manual with an eletric clutch?

so far I havent been overtaken by an old lady in a ivic... maybe you guys have much faster grannies in the US than the ones here in Hong Kong. ;)
 

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the only thing that really can hinder the GRANsport going from a stop is the hill holder. even the MSP doesnt really interupt that much. we are not even talking about a hard launch.

i find the CC or DS gearbox to be a little finicky and you do need the proper input (rev, timing, throttle) to get a perfect upshift or downshift.

with a GS, the more you know the car, the better you will be able to extract its performance.

anyways, if little grannies are quicker getting across the intersection there is something wrong. i simply cannot understand how that can happen either.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Vincent said:
hmmm... I am not an expert but isnt the sequential on a BMW is an automatic and the cabiocorsa is a manual with an eletric clutch?

so far I havent been overtaken by an old lady in a ivic... maybe you guys have much faster grannies in the US than the ones here in Hong Kong. ;)
Vincent:

No, the BMW acronym SMG stands for sequential manual gearbox. It is a manual transmission with a clutch controlled by a microprocessor. It's not available on all BMWs, but is an option on all their M cars except for M Roadsters and M Coupes as well as others--like the 550i--in the line.
 

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I'd have to suspect there was something wrong with that box. You do have to cane it off the line and can give it a goodly amount of revs without appearing to be a boy racer.

There's no way I'd ever describe the downshifts as slow. Unless maybe you were close to redline in the previous gear. Doesn't sound like the case with a nervous sales person aboard.
 

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oh I thought you were referring to the normal +/- mode on the standard BMWs.

i did tried the SMG a few times (but never owned one with it) - on a M3 and the new M5 - I dont like it. I just it'sa very personal thing. I am never into launch control/rubber burning. So I dont mind the F1 being a bit "slow" on gearchange.

Actually, the SMG does remind me of the E-gear on the lambos. I know they are different stuff... but they just give me the same impression.
 

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You must be missing something cuz if there is something these cars have is a quick launch, watch this video...

http://www.sporttuned.com/watch.php?v_id=707

...the second car out of the gas station is me


Don't baby the gas pedal... you just need a little heavier foot, that's it.
Go have another test drive and try disingaging the MSP button for that you have to keep it pressed for a few seconds until the light goes on, then engage the SPORT button and with the car completely stopped and without touching the brake pedal push the gas pedal fast and as deep as it can go and hold on!!! I'll bet you will beat the old ladies to church by far... oh and if the sales rep is riding with you have him wear some pampers cuz hes gonna sh..t his pants


CAUTION: make sure you do the above when going out on a straight and empty street.

WARNING: not reccomended for those that suffer from back and neck injuries, have a heart condition or are pregnant.
 

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Something was wrong.

"Do you really have to have your foot on the brake, revving the car up, and then step off the break to have a reasonable start? Is the choice really to just sit there as it decides to move, or to stomp on it like a street racer to get its rear moving (with all the attendant drama of smoke and squeal?)"

Was the MSP on or off? That would retard the power to some/all the wheels if the car senses any impending wheel spin. Holding the brake pedal down while pressing the gas would certainly trick the car into thinking there was an adhession issue.

But still, I get any kind of launch I want without turning the MSP off. There seems to be lots of room for a variable acceleration with my CC. There was either something wrong with the car. Or, nervous salesman not withstanding, something un-smooth that was causing an issue. Producing smoke and squeal suggests that perhaps you were throwing the car around a litttle more than the car was designed for...the car is a GT, designed to be driven quickly but not with Viperesque drag characteristics.

My downshifts are instant ......... unless you're in 5th or 6th and downshifting just 1 gear, when there just isn't enough of a variation in revs to make much of a difference......but dropping 2 or 3 gears ......happens in less than a blink....you have quick fingers, right? You went "blip, blip, blip' with your left fingers faster than you can think, right? Or....maybe you did it four times from 6th? The computer is not going to respond if it would cause you to do a down-shift over-rev that would blow the motor.

There was something wrong. Having owned numerous Porsches (latest is a highly modified 911TT) I have to say that my CC gearbox is the thing I enjoy about my Coupe the most. I find myself taking the Coupe more often than the Porsche.
 

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CC send off

i have an 02 cc have been reading all the post about rocket launches never had one, i guess i am a slow leaner. i have had a wonderful time without 'smoking tires', just too old for all that youthful stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, it's starting to sound as if there is a good possibility of a clutch problem.

First, for anyone who hasn't driven the BMW SMGs at length, you should know that with some experience they become super driver's tools--off the line (no need for launch control) or in spirited driving either on the road or on the track. And, in all but the most aggressive mode, you learn how to make them upshift seamlessly. They're terrifically engineered, but need a little practice with throttle modulation on upshifts; as well as practice blipping throttle in less aggressive modes on downshifts. (This is why some folks who are new to them have issues with them.) The SMG in my 550i is a very genteel cousin of the SMG on M3s, 5s, and 6s, and just needs flicking the paddle and nothing else to do all it's told. But both versions of the SMG would--with say the pedal depressed at a reasonable rate a third to half way--make the slowest BMW leave the GranSport I drove a half a block behind--unless I wanted to stomp on the accelerator: which I just don't.

Now a couple more details:

When I stepped on the accelerator at the rate I would do in a Bimmer the car did not move at all until it reached something like 2,000 rpms, then it gradually found its way across intersections. So, the clutch was apparently not engaging at all then slipping seriously as the gear engaged. Conversely, when you step on a BMW SMG in first, the car simply goes. This is what struck me as bizarre. Is this normal? Is this just a matter of depressing the accelerator down further and faster?

What makes me think from all your responses that things were not as they should be was the response that downshifts are normally instantaneous. Believe me, no one would have thought these were instantaneous. To repeat, the fairly mild SMG on the 550i is easily twice as fast downshifting as was the CC on the GranSport I drove.

Not sure what to do next. I was, literally, just a breath away from a purchase. But not at the moment.
 

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jrb said:
Well, it's starting to sound as if there is a good possibility of a clutch problem.

First, for anyone who hasn't driven the BMW SMGs at length, you should know that with some experience they become super driver's tools--off the line (no need for launch control) or in spirited driving either on the road or on the track. And, in all but the most aggressive mode, you learn how to make them upshift seamlessly. They're terrifically engineered, but need a little practice with throttle modulation on upshifts; as well as practice blipping throttle in less aggressive modes on downshifts. (This is why some folks who are new to them have issues with them.)

Exactly. Thats why I take posts about problems with the CC in the automotive press with a grain of salt. You've GOT to spend some time with the box to get the most out of it.

Realize too that peak torque comes in above 4500 rpm and that the V-8 is comparatively slow revving. You've got to put your foot into it more than you're used to or would expect to have to in order to get it moving.

Go back with all these (and previous) thoughts in mind and give it another shot.
 

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I grew up with stick transmissions (Beetle, muscle car, and Dino) and was sure I'd have the CC down in a day or so. But it took me three weeks of in-town driving to really get comfortable with it - now I enjoy it - it has most of the control of a manual with most of the ease and shift speed of an auto.

My next step is to figure out how to drive it the car effectively when I whomp on it. That'll likely take a while and some very clear roads in first and second, learning how to deal with/without MSP. At least the tires are nearly silent when they slip...
 

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not a clutch issue

jrb said:
Well, it's starting to sound as if there is a good possibility of a clutch problem.
I'm not sure about that. Having just recently replaced my clutch, I'm extremely familiar with how it behaves as it gets to end of life.

-There is no slow degradation. Within a mile or so, it went from shifting fine to not engaging at all. The gears still went up and down, the clutch just didn't engage.

- There's a chance of the throw out bearing getting some dirt and somehow the shaft gets hung-up of something, but if this happened, it would just cause the clutch to not engage at all. You'd get plenty of revs, and most likely some smoke out the back, but it wouldn't affect the shifting

-There are parameters that can be set electronically to control the level of engagement of the clutch discs, but those adjustments have no affect on speed of shifts.

It took a week or so of telling myself outloud to keep my foot all the way down while shifting, and once you learn to not lift your foot like you would in a traditional car, you'll feel the car shifting fast enough.

Go back for a test drive. Shift above 4,000 RPM, keep your foot all the way down while shifting and into the next gear (foot down, pull up on lever, go into next gear, keep foot down until clutch is full engaged...you never lift).
 

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I checked, like most of my stoplight "starts" are under 1500rpm.

My CC's shifting seemed to have sped up as the car got through its break-in period..Or it may have been through my break-in period.

When I'm not in a hurry, I drive it like a conventional manual - accelerate through a gear, ease off, shift, ease back in. When I'm in a hurry, no need for accelerator liftoff at all... that transmission can really put the power down.
 

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A few other observations:

1) You can have the engagement point modified slightly. I had the dealer do this so that it engaged at a slightly lower RPM point.

2) The software seems to change to a much more aggressive shift rate when you shift above 5000 RPM. So, if you want fastest shifting, use Sport mode and let 'er rev.

3) Never, ever, ever rev the engine *and* hold the brake. Unlike a slushbox, there is no benefit or "windup". In fact, you will actually get a slower start and will toast the clutch.

- Rick
 

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Since I live in a hilly area and have a fairly steep driveway, I find the hill-holder feature convenient and functional. Maybe a little less convenient from a level stop, but with accumulated seat time, I can leave a stoplight normally without really thinking about it.

With continued practice, I can now do shifts as seamless as a Cadillac slushbox or brutal enough to wonder if I just blew up the transaxle.

For normal stopping, I've decided to let the computer do the downshifting while applying brakes instead of using downshifts to slow down the car.

However, quick manual downshifts at around freeways speed can still surprise me as in: nail the throttle, flick, flick two downshifts, and (mentally) try to keep with the explosive acceleration.

The only complaint as such - and it seems to be an industry wide philosophy - is that the computer will only downshift to second (unless one comes to a complete stop) and since it is such a heavy car I feel there is too much clutch slippage when putting around a parking lot - so obviously I will manually downshift to first.
 

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If you hold the brake and hit the gas, after a second or three you will get the CC light flashing and beeping from the car.

SMG has your +/- settings for how aggressive it shifts, whereas the Maser CC has normal/sport, but also how hard you are driving. Everything is drive by wire, and adaptive, so not only will it refine itself to your driving habits long term, but also short term, ie. how hard are you hitting the gas right now.

If you are at a stop and you lightly feather the gas, it is going to engage very slowly. It assumes you are trying to do something slow like park. If you have sport mode on, msp off, and you go from the brakes to the gas as fast as you can, it will spin the engine up to about 3000rpm and just drop the clutch. (obviously if you're going to do this - its at your own risk) These are the two extremes of engagement, but there are mappings for everything in between. If the car has been generally soft driven it will also take a few minutes to get used to an aggressive driver, so it may take a little while to get used to you.

I have only driven the various SMG revisions in the M3, and a 330, but have never been a big fan. I've never had it as a daily driver, but I've probably put 200-300 miles on them, and am still not entirely smooth with low speed transitions, and launching. The CC was easier for me to get the hang of right away, and after a few weeks, it became natural.

I definitely agree with Steeldream about the automotive press' oppinions on the CC box. I don't think many of these writers spend enough time with the car to really get used to the transmission.

- Mark
 

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maserati of minneapolis said:
If you hold the brake and hit the gas, after a second or three you will get the CC light flashing and beeping from the car.

Everything is drive by wire, and adaptive, so not only will it refine itself to your driving habits long term, but also short term, ie. how hard are you hitting the gas right now.

- Mark
Thanks for the info.
 

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SMG vs. F1

jrb said:
...the cambiocorsa sequential transmission on the car I drove was, certainly by BMW standards, primitive to the point of my wondering if it was defective...The downshifts, moreover, were molasses slow...
The two systems are essentually (mechanically) the same. Both consist of an electronic clutch and a high-pressure hydraulic shift actuator. I wouldn't give up on the maser just yet. There are many possibilities, it could have been the transimission, ECU or most importantly it just takes time to get used to. Quite frankly, I am not a big fan of the SMG's and hate the tiptronics but am sure many bimmer and porsche owners (excluding myself) would argue otherwise. I'll let you try my cars if you are not convinced, a side by side conperison of the 3 types of transmissions :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
H.

You might be my savior here. Send a PM and maybe we can arrange a driving session. I'd be happy to come to you, and we can bring both the Z4 M Coupe and the 550i for you to play with.

J.
 
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