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BMW M2 Competition Proves Something No One Thought Possible

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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.

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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.