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      02-18-2006, 03:41 AM   #1
lux.sh
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Steptronic Owners: Share your kick-down experience

Ok, so recently i've been driving my car like mad. Just to see how well it does.

One thing I noticed, and wish it wasn't true.

**Kickdown(for those of you who is not familiar with this term, this is when you are stepping on the gas pedal all the way down suddenly, without touching the gear lever, letting the transmission downshift to lowest possible gear)

-I find it takes awful long time for the tranny to shift to lowest gear possible. It takes almost full 2~3 seconds for the tranny to realize that the driver wants wide-open-throttle(wot) condition. My damn 2002 honda accord v6 4spd automatic used to take kickdowns much better than this 6spd steptronic. Maybe because of rev-matching downshifts? or just plain slow response?

I know its better to just shift manually to lowest possible gear, but there are times when you are so damn lazy, you just want to floor it and let the car do all the work.

Steptronic officially gets B- score from me. It went down from A+ to B+ when I found so much lag between manual shifts(ex. M1 to M2), you have to shift about 500~700rpm before the actual shift point you want to make.

Sigh, I want SMG. Who feels the same way?
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      02-18-2006, 03:47 AM   #2
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actually i never felt the SMG before but overall i'll give bmw's steptronics B
i feel the same way as you, but if i want a quicker response, i'll go for manual..i mean this is the downside of steptronic, but i'm quite content with bmw's steptronics for now..lux maybe u feel that way in ur honda because its a 4speed instead of 6...hence the bmw has more lag..i dunno i'm just guessing, i'm not a car expert hahahaha
just sharing anyway, peace
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      02-18-2006, 05:16 AM   #3
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Yeah, I've noticed it. It's quite displeasing, but whenever I'm in a spirited-driving mood I find it more convenient to just upshift after accelerating in DS (rather than go back to D), allowing for swift downshifting, and simply downshift half a second before I do what I want to do...well, it works for me, and I've sort of weened myself off the kick-down function after a few bad experiences. Steptronic is good but far from perfect, and I hope BMW is able to addresse this in future software updates (I've got a pre-sept car so I'm not sure if CIP20 does anything).
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      02-18-2006, 07:42 AM   #4
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anybody noticed that e46 steptronic auto driving -( shifting to higher gears)during start up in mornings tends to be longer, had to rev like hell! i used to change to manual mode and upshift manually as i got really annoyed by the auto box!
also does anyone notice any significant engine braking with manual shift to lower gear in the steptronic. tried doing it a couple of times and felt that i was only kidding myself. feels very different from downshifting in manual gear box.
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      02-18-2006, 08:51 AM   #5
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I agree that response time is sometimes a bit longer than it could be. I think the Steptronic is a very good automatic overall (the best I've had, for sure), but there will always be times when driving with any automatic transmission where it's not going to do exactly what you want it to. There is still definitely room for improvement, but it'll never be perfect.

I find that lately I've been using manual mode for spirited driving, whereas it used to be a mix of DS and manual. There have been many times where I've regretted not getting the MT because I just find I can have more fun when I'm more in charge of what's going on.

Even in manual mode on the Step, you have to deal with sluggish response times when changing gears. There are also times when the gear display in the instrument panel will show the wrong gear for a second while the transmission catches up. If you make a decision to up or downshift based on what's in the display, you can end up in the wrong gear. (I'm talking about things like coming out of a turn before you get back on the gas - you wouldn't be able to determine your gear accurately based solely on RPMs.) With an MT, you have a physical indication of which gear you're in. Since you don't have that with the Step, the accuracy of the display becomes very important. Unfortunately, it's not without its flaws.

Please don't take any of this as Step-bashing. As I said before, I think it's a very good automatic transmission. But if you care about things like what gear your car is in (no laughing, a lot of people don't), there will be times when it's not quite reading your mind like you want it to.

Score: B
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      02-18-2006, 10:22 AM   #6
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Funny, I find that just in DS the downshifting time is pretty much okay (Sometimes two gears down), so that makes up for the slower decision-making process happening when left in D. Downshifting automatically while braking in DS mode is kind of fun too, so I'd give it an A.
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      02-18-2006, 12:07 PM   #7
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Just drive it in DS mode if you want the car to drive in low gears and with more power.

I will give the step. an A
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      02-18-2006, 12:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r3amir
Just drive it in DS mode if you want the car to drive in low gears and with more power.
Yes, but you can't always plan for the need for immediate power. You could be enjoying a liesurely drive and need to quickly squirt into or out of a hole.

You shouldn't have to live with the lower MPG that you get using DS in order to get quicker shifts when you hit the kickdown. Flooring the accelerator should shift now, now matter whether you're in D or DS.
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      02-18-2006, 03:26 PM   #9
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Most of the time when I'm doing aggressive driving and I care about kickdown time, I'll be in DS mode. DS mode seems pretty quick to me for an automatic and I tend to like the timing and programming in that mode.

I realized the manual shifting being about 500-700 rpms late on the driving tours that I went on with the car club up here. I rarely am doing manual shifting around town since DS will suffice but, doing aggressive driving through seriously twisty backroads I was making sure I was in the right gear the whole time, or trying to anyway.

The shifts are pretty late in manual mode. Then again, I have zero experience with other "manu-matics" to be able to compare and say that the Step is either slower, quicker, or about on par with those.

Quite honestly I don't want an SMG on my car. I want BMW's equivalent to the DSG. If you own a Steptronic E90, I seriously recommend that you do NOT drive an A3, GTI or TT equipped with DSG. You will be severely jealous.
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      02-18-2006, 04:19 PM   #10
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lux - I've noticed also that there is a lag before the step kicks down. One theory that I have is that I am typically a pretty passive driver and I don't lay into it much. Because the software "learns" our driving style and applies the shift patterns accordingly, I just assumed that may have something to do with it. However, I think that algorithm is based on the last 50 or so shifts - so if you've been driving aggressively for a while it should be past that.

Have you tried the same driving style with the step in sports mode?

The one thing that still bugs me is the counter-intuative manual shifting for steptronic. Pushing forward to downshift and pulling rearward to upshift the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. I used to use the manual mode from time to time in my other cars, but I can't stand it in the E90 and I can't get used to it. I'd love to know who's the dumb Kraut that came up with that brainstorm. No wonder they can't win a war!


EDIT: lux, are you doing this in manual mode? No wonder! In M the shift will only occur to prevent engine/transmission damage or when they become grossly out of sync. I would recommend DS mode for this type of driving.
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      02-18-2006, 04:50 PM   #11
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Ledzep, I think he was making two separate observations. One about the slow kickdown in D and the other about slow shifts in M.
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      02-18-2006, 11:23 PM   #12
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The Kick-down is honestly awefull. Like you mentioned, it takes YEARS to find the lowest gear and by that time, i do not need the extra power because its waaay to late. Anyways, I never use the kick down no more. Just like you, i just go into manual mode and go down to the desired gear which is honestly much faster.
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      02-19-2006, 03:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEDZEP
The one thing that still bugs me is the counter-intuative manual shifting for steptronic. Pushing forward to downshift and pulling rearward to upshift the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. I used to use the manual mode from time to time in my other cars, but I can't stand it in the E90 and I can't get used to it.
But with the exception of 2nd to 3rd isn't M mode trying to imitate the stick?
Quote:
Originally Posted by LEDZEP
I'd love to know who's the dumb Kraut that came up with that brainstorm. No wonder they can't win a war!
Maybe the Kraut who invented the jet fighter?
Well, anyway, I have been experimenting with M, DS and D. I definitely like M c/w kickdown as well. 'Course the last two times I really tried to get it going I passed a cop...
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      02-19-2006, 04:23 AM   #14
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Ok, thanks for the input guys. I guess I wasn't the only one feeling that the steptronic's kick-down ability totally sucks. I should try it in M or DS mode as you guys mentioned. Lets see if that makes any difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LEDZEP
I'd love to know who's the dumb Kraut that came up with that brainstorm. No wonder they can't win a war!

Am I the only one who thinks the steptronic shifting directions are correct?
I remember we had a discussion on this, and EVERYONE said the way its positioned is weird.

When I think of "downshift", I usually think of pulling the shifter "up". Like from 2nd to 1st, 4th to 3rd, 5th to 3rd. And for upshifts, 1 to 2, 3 to 4, 5 to 6. As for "diagonal" shifts(2nd to 3rd, 4th to 5th, etc), it doesn't count.
Based on my previous manual transmission experience, I am quite surprised how most E90ers do not like the steptronic shifting directions.
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      02-19-2006, 04:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lux.sh
...Am I the only one who thinks the steptronic shifting directions are correct? ...
No, I like the setup. IMO Much better than the setup on a Merc C220d I had the unfortunate experience of driving once. (Left and Right were the shifting directions, that was seriously annoying.) Just my 2 euro cents
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      02-19-2006, 05:01 AM   #16
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Setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by lux.sh
Am I the only one who thinks the steptronic shifting directions are correct?
I remember we had a discussion on this, and EVERYONE said the way its positioned is weird.

When I think of "downshift", I usually think of pulling the shifter "up". Like from 2nd to 1st, 4th to 3rd, 5th to 3rd. And for upshifts, 1 to 2, 3 to 4, 5 to 6. As for "diagonal" shifts(2nd to 3rd, 4th to 5th, etc), it doesn't count.
Based on my previous manual transmission experience, I am quite surprised how most E90ers do not like the steptronic shifting directions.
I think it makes sense, as per my post. Reverse feels a bit weird, though.
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      02-19-2006, 06:57 AM   #17
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hey lux.sh,

as we know, d mode is overall for easy driving. sure it can pull hard if you need it to but as you will no doubt discover - or have already - the kickdown switch/response works best in ds mode.

i am very much like ledzep and drive passively. i use d mode for most of my driving. this mode really tends to rely on torque mainly in the gear it is in to propel the car forward and can hang on to a gear for too long even when you give the accellerator a quick shove up to the kickdown switch. so it doesn't come as any surprise to me when you mention a kickdown switch activation delay assuming you are in d mode.

i have, on occassion, found d mode so 'lazy' if you will that after turning a corner, it stays at least one gear too high and accellerating out of the turn can be almost non existant.

the same turn and accelleration is so different in ds mode that the car has 2 personalities.

now in ds mode i would expect a much faster kickdown response.

although i am not interested in testing this, i hope kicking down in ds mode solves your problem.

all the best.
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      02-19-2006, 01:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEDZEP
...The one thing that still bugs me is the counter-intuative manual shifting for steptronic. Pushing forward to downshift and pulling rearward to upshift the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. I used to use the manual mode from time to time in my other cars, but I can't stand it in the E90 and I can't get used to it. I'd love to know who's the dumb Kraut that came up with that brainstorm. No wonder they can't win a war! ...
Agreed.

Initially, I was confused with M shifting, but I've conformed, because I have to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lux.sh
...I find it takes awful long time for the tranny to shift to lowest gear possible. It takes almost full 2~3 seconds for the tranny to realize that the driver wants wide-open-throttle(wot) condition. My damn 2002 honda accord v6 4spd automatic used to take kickdowns much better than this 6spd steptronic. Maybe because of rev-matching downshifts? or just plain slow response?...
Agreed.
That's why I don't do kickdowns any more.
If I need power while crusin', I downshift to M.
I use the D mode for relax crusin', DS for traffic jams, and M for fun.

All in all, I think it's a good Automatic tranny besides the dyslexic M shift.
I give it a B+
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      02-19-2006, 05:18 PM   #19
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Ok, So I conducted a very brief test myself this morning only in D mode and the reaction was instant BUT translation to the rear wheels did take a moment or two.

Travelling along straight stretch of multi lane road @ 80km/h in 6th gear in D mode. Floored it (ouch), felt (and heard) the kickdown switch activate but even before my foot reached the switch, the tranny has already changed down 2 gears with an appropriate power and torque change almost instantly.

Now when the switch was activated, the rev counter instantky spun al the way to 6500 rpm or so and then the full power was released to the rear wheels. Delay in the torque converter. The surge was exciting but I pulled back pretty much straight after that and drove at my normal speed. I tried this twice with the same results. However, the tranny's response may be quicker if I was in say 5th gear before I made my move. Not sure though. I may try it that way.

I have not yet tried the same thing in DS mode.

I do remember years back when my parents had a big V8 auto and the short delay when the kickdown switch was activated until power was translated to the rear wheels.

As I do not push my car hard, the kickdown delay does not concern me but I understand why it will concern others. I am not at all sorry buying the auto and although I have found 1 limitation of the auto under certain conditions (as posted above), it is easily overcome.

For a first time BMW auto user, I give the Tranny an A.
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      02-19-2006, 05:25 PM   #20
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Maybe try with DSC/DTC turned off.

Results may be a bit different...
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      02-19-2006, 06:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Armen52
I want BMW's equivalent to the DSG. If you own a Steptronic E90, I seriously recommend that you do NOT drive an A3, GTI or TT equipped with DSG. You will be severely jealous.
Seriously. The DSG is amazing; snappy, responsive, seamless. The kind of driving I do day to day just begs for some automation in the gearbox and I'd give up a clutch pedal for DSG without looking back. I've heard rumors that other manufacturers (BMW?) are licensing the technology. Perhaps DSG will deprecate squishy tiptronics entirely?

In the near term, the DSG's good enough to keep VW's GLI close as a sort of plan-B in my car-shopping effort. Yeah the GLI is essentially a tarted-up compact car, but there's a lot in it for the money. More appealingly, a short lease on a 330 now might coincide with the R36's possible launch... That said, after 14 years of FWD VW's, I've been waiting for the opportunity to see if BMW's legendary drive experience (with a manual gearbox) is all that it's chalked up to be.
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      02-19-2006, 07:17 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEDZEP
I'd love to know who's the dumb Kraut that came up with that brainstorm. No wonder they can't win a war!

BTW - that last sentence was very tongue-in-cheek. No disrespect to the fatherland or anyone there. My ancestory is there.
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