Time for another manual vs. DCT competition.
For years we've been told over and over again that high-tech dual-clutch transmissions are better in nearly every way over manuals. In general, the sales figures accurately reflect this, but BMW M has stated on record a few times that it'll keep offering manuals as long as there's a market. Turns out the US is its best market for manual customers. As for performance, DCTs offer superior numbers against a human being rowing their own gears. But under certain circumstances, man can beat machine.
That's exactly what Car and Driver learned during its recent comparison test between a manual and DCT-equipped BMW M2 Competition. Turns out the six-speed manual M2 Competition was faster from 0-60 mph than its DCT twin. Seriously? How is this possible when BMW's DCTs have proven to be faster than manual-equipped Bimmers. The answer lies with the launch itself.
You see, while DCTs excel at launching vehicles thanks to coordination with launch control systems. But the M2 Competition's DCT has a tough time launching the coupe, as it did with the previous M2. Blame a lot of torque kicking in early. Zero to 60 mph still happens in a crazy fast 4.0 seconds, but C&D's manual-equipped M2 Competition did the deed in 3.9 seconds. It may only be a tenth of a second faster, but it's faster nonetheless.
C&D claims it accomplished this with careful clutch modulation. In other words, if you're good with a clutch pedal and know the very, very precise moments when to shift, this can be done.
Of course this is quite an unusual situation and we're unsure whether it can be repeated in not just other BMWs, but also in sports cars that offer both manual and a DCT and/or regular automatic. Then again, that list continues to shrink seemingly every model year. But for now, the six-speed manual-equipped BMW M2 Competition is capable of an ever so slightly faster 0-60 mph time than when a computer does the shifting.
Score one point for us mere mortals.