When BMW unveiled its 5,0-litre V10-powered M5 and M6, enthusiasts complained that the Munich-brand should have fitted the models with traditional manual - not only SMG - transmissions. However, BMW has had a rethink . . . thanks to the Yanks.

When BMW unveiled its 5,0-litre V10-powered M5 and M6, enthusiasts complained that the Munich-brand should have fitted the models with traditional manual - not only SMG - transmissions. However, BMW has had a rethink... thanks to the Yanks.
The latest model in BMW's M-division line-up, the M6, was launched in Spain recently. A driving impression of the 373 kW beast will appear in the upcoming June issue of CAR - on sale Monday 23rd. Click here for an M6-related story.
Last year, at the world launch of the M5, BMW executives said the company would offer just the high-tech adaptive seven-speed SMG gearbox on the M5 because it was "sportier" than a manual transmission, reported. The AMG-division of Mercedes-Benz shares BMW's position on the matter and offers only Speedtronic adaptable automatic transmissions on its models, including the twin-turbocharged 6,0-litre V12 SL65 AMG.
It was also argued that the development of a heavy-duty (yet user-friendly) manual transmission for BMW's F1-inspired engine, which produces peak power at 7 750 r/min and 520 N.m of torque at 6 100 r/min, was too costly and there were doubts about its reliability in frequent stop-start urban driving situations.
However, it was recently reported that a six-speed manual transmission will eventually be offered on M5 models in North America. The reason? Because Ulrich Bruhnke, the executive in charge of BMW's M Division, said a "hard-core community" of buyers in North America preferred a manual transmission.
"The US is our largest single market, where about 50 percent of our production goes," he said. "If we see the opportunity to generate additional sales, we will respond."
The M5 is due to be launched in North America - and South Africa - very soon, but only with SMG transmissions. The manual will join the American line-up in late 2006 or early 2007.
Bruhnke was quoted as saying that no decision had been made on whether the M5 will get a manual transmission in European or other markets.
The seven-speed SMG-fitted M5 is claimed to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 4,7 seconds, flashing past 200 km/h in 15 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. Is a manual transmission really necessary? You tell us . . .