BMW M GmbH has been messing around with volume production sequential gearboxes since 1996. Based on the operating principle of a standard manual transmission that is electro hydraulically controlled without a clutch pedal, three generations of BMW's SMG (Sequential M Gearbox) are about to be rendered obsolete with the newest gearbox called M-DCT (M Double-Clutch Transmission).
First introduced in a production car on the VW Golf R32 in 2002, the double-clutch gearbox continues to reach more models with more auto makers adopting the technology. Advantages of the system include faster shifts, constant power flow between shifts and reduced fuel consumption. However, the transmission, due to the gearshift comfort required in everyday use, has been limited to less powerful engines and with far less torque, but that's all changed now.
In cooperation with Getrag, BMW is the world's first car maker to offer a seven-speed Double Clutch Gearbox specially conceived and designed for a V8 power unit capable of engine speeds of up to 9,000 rpm. The M double-clutch transmission with 11 Drivelogic driving programs, new sports shift lever and launch control makes its debut in the 420hp 4.0-liter V8 BMW M3 Coupe and Convertible.
Porsche has recently taken a double-clutch equipped 997 to the Nurburgring and shaved a massive 8 seconds off its time compared to a manually equipped model. It's only a matter of time until BMW shows what it can do.
See press release below for operational details.