“SMG sucks” is something often seen on M3 boards. When I first got the M3, I kind of agreed with them.

But first, a digression - I am currently in Portland, OR. I’ve been here for about two weeks, and I have found a nice condo to rent. I also drove here. In the M3. In four days. Since then, I’ve been driving from my coworker’s house to work, a 20 minute commute. In this time, I’ve made a discovery.

I was wrong. They’re wrong. The problem is, people don’t ‘get’ what the design goal is.

One of the things that irritated me very, very much when I first got the M3 was how inconsistent the shifting was. What I have realized since then, is that is by design. For contrast, the SSG, which is the automated-manual gearbox in the non-M series, does the same thing, every single time:

  • Reduce torque at 1 of 2 rates (sport vs comfort)
  • Shift
  • Ramp torque back in at the same rate as removal

So you get a very consistent experience, with the exception of the 1-2 shift which is a little lazy in comfort mode. With SMG, the rate of acceleration of the engine, of the vehicle, the incline, throttle position, are all taken into account to not upset the chassis. So even if you have it on ‘Dynamics’ (the switch by the SMG gear lever) level 5, which is the fastest (with DSC on), if you’re only going 20 MPH and 10% throttle, it’s going to soften the torque ramp so that the shift is nearly unnoticeable. BUT, put the pedal to the floor, and it’s quick and efficient, and stable.

It also turns out that (at least in the code I’m looking at), there is more than just the transmission affected by the ‘Dynamics’ switch - the VANOS table is different for position 1 or 2 vs 3-6.

So I’ve come to like what it does, and once I get my head around how everything fits together a little better than where I am now (I’m going back and reviewing what I’ve written so far to try and fill in any gaps I left.), I’ll make it more easily configurable to choose what you want. More jerky, but consistent, or more smooth and stable (ie stock).

Maybe with a different perspective you may find that SMG does work pretty well, just not how you expected it to.