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2010 2011 BMW 5 Series Forum F10 BMW 5-Series (F10) Forums General 5-Series Sedan and Wagon (F10 / F11) Forum 6 speed vs. 6 speed
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      03-19-2015, 12:58 PM   #1
Gpfarrell
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6 speed vs. 6 speed

Ahem, is this thing on? Hello? First post!

I've read carefully. I'm learning. Would you mind confirming these generalizations and observations? My quest for a 6-speed is about to begin.

Given that it's 2015 and I'm likely buying a 2011 5-series, is it safe to say that I'd be equally happy with a 6-speed manual 535 or 550?

My wife's '08 535xi touring 6-speed (oh, not for sale. Ever.) is perfectly fine perfectly stock. I'd likely get a tune for whatever I bought as I'm combining my 2 current daily drivers... a 2014 Fiesta ST (oh so fun!) and a 2011 Lincoln MKS with Ecoboost that's tuned to about 400hp... it ran a 12.9 in the quarter.

The hot rod Lincoln is a great car (I realize that a conversation for a different place) but I'm a stick-shift guy and find I gladly trade away some of the Lincoln's power (I never really use it all, just like having it!) for the precision and intamacy of a manual transmission BMW. My wife is in favor of anything that gets me out of the silly-fun Fiesta.

I'm not worried about fuel economy, so the 550i's thirst is irreleveant. I like power, but my wife's 535 goes pretty good, so I'd hardly feel stuck if that's what I got.

I know the 6-speeds are very rare, so ultimately I may not find enough selection that the choice between 535 and 550 is even mine to make. But is it safe to assume they're about equal?

The 550i is more car, has suffered from more depreciation, but will likely cost more to maintain?

The 535 is plenty of car and a bit more nimble, but lacks the grunt of the V8.

I'd intend to buy something with under 40,000 miles and keep it awhile. I'm a CPO fan, but not sure the warranty is a good fit... 2011 would be CPO'd until 2017, but if I put 10-12k a year on a 40000 mile car, I'd only be at 60,000 miles when I'm out of warranty. I know either can spit out a 4-figure repair bill, but might I be less foolish buying a non-CPO'd car if the miles stayed low?

Whatever I get will be RWD and won't have an automatic transmission, so that's a little reduction in potential trouble spots.

Lastly, does the N63 customer care program cover any owner or only the original owner? That could make the decision easy!

So... strictly 6-speed... any strong feelings one way or the other for my spirited daily driver/work car/family car?

Thanks!
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      03-19-2015, 09:17 PM   #2
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Very hard to find a 6-speed in M-Sport guise, but you could always retrofit the aero package to at least replicate the look. N63 customer care package would apply to any owner as long as the service has not been performed yet. I am with you on opting for the RWD. Unless you live in an area that gets a ton of snow for more than 4 months out of the year, I don't see the point. I want my Ultimate Driving Machine to be rear wheel drive with the silky smooth inline 6 that BMW is known for. I guess that gives you a hint to whether I recommend the 535 or 550. Good luck with your search. I had my heart set on an Alpine White with Cinnamon interior, 6 speed M Sport, but had to quickly give up the 6 speed dream as inventory for pre-owned M-Sports was very limited when I was shopping for mine (early 2013). Fortunately I don't miss not having a manual one bit. The 8-speed SAT is that good and frankly, the F10 is so big and luxurious, it just feels right to have the auto. Just my $0.02.
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      03-20-2015, 05:49 AM   #3
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Thanks Bake!

I'm sure the 8-speed SAT is great as it's got plenty of fans here. However, the 6-speed manual in my wife's big and luxurious AWD wagon feels wonderful to us. I can take my time waiting for the right 6MT to become available, I just want to be sure either choice (535/550) is a good one. If the F10 was only available with an automatic, I'd keep my MKS. I've got this twitch in my left leg though....
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      03-20-2015, 09:11 PM   #4
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It's really a matter of which engine you want - I6 or V8. The 535 is plenty powerful. The 550 is MORE powerful, obviously, but not usable most of the time. If all else was equal, and you enjoy power, get the 550. But do keep in mind, all else is usually NOT equal.

The 550 will cost more to maintain long-term after CPO, warranty, etc is long gone... assuming you keep it that long. Inline 6's are BMW's bread and butter, and the N55 is a strong engine. The N63 in the older 550's is clearly a bit of a problem child. If you already had one, fine - but I'm not sure I'd tell anyone to knowingly buy one at this point, care package or not.

Given you're looking for a manual, you're at a huge disadvantage with choice. They're rare. And given how many options there are to choose from on the 5 series, I'd just lay out your priorities.

#1 - Manual Transmission
#2 - X Package
#3 - Y Package
#4 - Z Color(s) Exterior / Interior
.
.
.
#n - X Engine

As insinuated above, I'd probably put the engine option of choice lower on the list since it'll probably have much lesser influence on your daily enjoyment of the car over the transmission type, packages, and overall aesthetics (colors, trim line, etc).
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      03-21-2015, 01:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezmaass
It's really a matter of which engine you want - I6 or V8. The 535 is plenty powerful. The 550 is MORE powerful, obviously, but not usable most of the time. If all else was equal, and you enjoy power, get the 550. But do keep in mind, all else is usually NOT equal.

The 550 will cost more to maintain long-term after CPO, warranty, etc is long gone... assuming you keep it that long. Inline 6's are BMW's bread and butter, and the N55 is a strong engine. The N63 in the older 550's is clearly a bit of a problem child. If you already had one, fine - but I'm not sure I'd tell anyone to knowingly buy one at this point, care package or not.

Given you're looking for a manual, you're at a huge disadvantage with choice. They're rare. And given how many options there are to choose from on the 5 series, I'd just lay out your priorities.

#1 - Manual Transmission
#2 - X Package
#3 - Y Package
#4 - Z Color(s) Exterior / Interior
.
.
.
#n - X Engine

As insinuated above, I'd probably put the engine option of choice lower on the list since it'll probably have much lesser influence on your daily enjoyment of the car over the transmission type, packages, and overall aesthetics (colors, trim line, etc).
Just to illustrate how different our priorities can be...

I would put engine and transmission on the very top of my priority list Because to me those are two of the major things that brings me enjoyment and satisfaction when driving a car (or frustration and boredom if it's the wrong combo. Maybe more of an issue here in Europe where BMW offers many more engine options than in the US). More important than many other factors/options.

When I'm looking at buying a car the first criterias will be which engine and transmission I want and then see which cars are available. I am willing to compromise on other options in order to get the right engine/trans combo!
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      03-21-2015, 05:36 PM   #6
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Ezmaass,

Thank you. In a round about way, that's exactly the answer I was trying to find. Oddly, I think you and Boss330 may agree more than he realizes. The drivetrain matters. I'm sure they are very nice sedans, but an automatic 528 is a no-starter for my taste. The manual is simply mandatory. It seems the 550's extra power might be offset by extra trouble. So, I'd do well to be open to either engine as the selection is so slim I may never find the one I would have ordered with unlimited funds in the fall of 2010.

I've been purposefully driving my wife's 6-speed 535xi touring more than normal. It's a terrific car and very engaging IMHO with the manual. So, manual first, color second... gotta be blue! I'd be open to a red or green, but we know how likely that is! I know, that's no way to proceed, but I'm still getting my ducks in order so time is on my side. I think I'm about 8 weeks out from being ready to pull the trigger, but I can wait lots longer for the right car. I'm looking forward to a one-way flight and a long drive home if that's what it takes.

I just wanted to be fairly certain that the 535 would be very bit as enjoyable as a 550. Sounds like it is. But I think I'd roll the dice and buy the V8 given the choice!
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      03-22-2015, 09:15 AM   #7
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GpFarell,

Welcome to the forum - I am a long time BMW owner with about 8 months experience in my 550. My last car was an E60 M5 6 Speed manual that I miss dearly! I was in the same boat as you - 535i or 550i Manual Trans M sport only mandatory. Wouldn't you know that one day my local dealer had the exact car I wanted with 20,000 miles and BMW CPO? According to the chart below I am one of 28 Alpine White M sport 550's produced!!! Talk about rare!





Get the 550!
  • 550's are rare in my parts (whereas 535i are a dime a dozen)
  • Maintenance will be more expensive
  • Gas mileage will be marginal at best
  • Engine is super quiet - car is bank vault quiet in fact

But.....that power!! Have you heard a 550i with a proper exhaust? Absolute heaven

Regarding RWD... I am outside of Philly and drove my car through this winter with Pirelli Sottozero Runflats on 18" BMW wheels. With weight in the trunk the car is just fine!

Stephan735i provided some excellent information in a separate thread regarding the rarity of the 550i Manual trans. There were only 611 Manual transmission 550 cars produced period. My understanding is that this was a US/Canada option only. Production numbers are as follows:

Exterior colors (by their German name) for the 611 550i/6 F10 produced:

416 Carbonschwarz: 89 (units)
668 Schwarz II: 78
475 Black Sapphire: 76
A90 Sophistograu: 63
354 Titansilber: 58
A89 Imperialblau: 52
300 Alpinweiss III: 51
A52 Spacegrau: 50
B90 Sophistograu II: 44
A72 Kaschmirsilber: 16
A17 Havanna: 13
A76 Tiefseeblau: 8
A81 Tasman: 7
A84 Milanobeige: 5
X08 Champagner Quarz: 1st (Individual paint)

269 examples were made with M Sport Package in the following colors:

416 Carbonschwarz: 89
668 Schwarz II: 40
354 Titansilber: 30
300 Alpinweiss III: 28
B90 Sophistograu II: 24
A52 Spacegrau: 24
A89 Imperialblau: 22
A90 Sophistograu: 12

Canada's 27 cars were all 2011 models with 12 having M Sport Package. There is one from January 2013.

Check out this local beast! BMW of the Main Line - 2012 550i

I will say that this vehicle is desirable and the market reflects it as such (do a search on Cars.com) you will see that M sport cars with lower mileage/cpo carry a sweet premium.

Hope this is a good start! Good Luck and be patient!

- C
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      03-23-2015, 10:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpfarrell View Post
I know the 6-speeds are very rare, so ultimately I may not find enough selection that the choice between 535 and 550 is even mine to make. But is it safe to assume they're about equal?

The 550i is more car, has suffered from more depreciation, but will likely cost more to maintain?

The 535 is plenty of car and a bit more nimble, but lacks the grunt of the V8.

Whatever I get will be RWD and won't have an automatic transmission, so that's a little reduction in potential trouble spots.

So... strictly 6-speed... any strong feelings one way or the other for my spirited daily driver/work car/family car?

Thanks!
Plenty of discussion on the forum about "no need" for 6 speed manual in this type of car, but once again I'll repeat myself.

If that's "your thing", and it seems to be, as amazing as automatic transmission in these cars is, it's simply no match for enjoyment of driving a manual. Sure I'd likely be happy with automatic, just not quite "as happy".

And this is not about just pure performance, as numbers seem to favor automatic transmission in both, acceleration and gas milleage. It's about driver's involvement and enjoyment you get out of driving manual transmission car - again, for those who like that kind of thing.


So yeah, RWD, manual transmission.... can't go wrong, what's to argue - except perhaps on potential resale value down the road.
Lots of snow where I am too, not an issue with good winter tires and common sense.
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      03-23-2015, 11:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bbb34 View Post
It's about driver's involvement and enjoyment you get out of driving manual transmission car - again, for those who like that kind of thing.
I think we might be brothers!
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      03-25-2015, 12:34 AM   #10
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You are chasing a unicorn, as I'm sure you know.

I've now driven a 5 series with 6 speed MT for 13 years. Though the F10 does not quite approach the E39, it is, at least in the 550 version, an absolute delight. You know what you like to drive, so start the search.

I offer this advice only. If you find a car with the transmission that you desire, buy it. I passed on one in CA because I wasn't ready. It was a mistake. When the second one came available in Mass (with only 1,200 miles on it - long story), I jumped. That was two years ago and it was a marvelous decision. There are so few of these cars available, you really do need to be prepared to move quickly and have it shipped or travel.

Good luck! You are on the right track.

PS - One of 89 Carbon Black Metallic 550's with the MT!
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Last edited by Boulder Bill; 03-25-2015 at 12:39 AM..
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      03-25-2015, 07:16 AM   #11
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Here is one for sale!

http://f10.5post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1079704
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      03-25-2015, 09:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbb34 View Post
Plenty of discussion on the forum about "no need" for 6 speed manual in this type of car, but once again I'll repeat myself.

If that's "your thing", and it seems to be, as amazing as automatic transmission in these cars is, it's simply no match for enjoyment of driving a manual. Sure I'd likely be happy with automatic, just not quite "as happy".

And this is not about just pure performance, as numbers seem to favor automatic transmission in both, acceleration and gas milleage. It's about driver's involvement and enjoyment you get out of driving manual transmission car - again, for those who like that kind of thing.


So yeah, RWD, manual transmission.... can't go wrong, what's to argue - except perhaps on potential resale value down the road.
Lots of snow where I am too, not an issue with good winter tires and common sense.
I agree! would be nice to feel that 450lbs of torque in first gear and the thrust of releasing the clutch!!! I just couldn't wait any longer to find one up here in Canada. My BMW mechanic friend told me he has only seen 1 or 2 in the past 3 years that come in for Service. Trying to find a used one in RWD (which i believe is only 2011) is really difficult. I miss it for that sheer fun and enjoyment as you said. Still have my 5 speed e46 as a winter car, so its not as bad for me.

Too all that have the 6 speed
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      03-25-2015, 09:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulder Bill View Post
You are chasing a unicorn, as I'm sure you know......

I offer this advice only. If you find a car with the transmission that you desire, buy it. I passed on one in CA because I wasn't ready. It was a mistake. When the second one came available in Mass (with only 1,200 miles on it - long story), I jumped. That was two years ago and it was a marvelous decision. There are so few of these cars available, you really do need to be prepared to move quickly and have it shipped or travel.

Good luck! You are on the right track.

PS - One of 89 Carbon Black Metallic 550's with the MT!
Good advice

I found, I think it was M sport and, by the time I called the dealer few hours later it was gone. Soon after saw the second one of these up on BMW CPO site (couldn't believe my luck as it has DHP too and was in my preferred color) 3 years old CPO, Euro delivery, with 20K miles on it. Same as Boulder Bill, I didn't feel I was ready initially, but then I realized it was kinda "now or never" type of thing. Long story short, drove to dealer 6 hours away to check it, test drive and close the deal.

That said, there was one here on the forum (upstate NY I think, can't remember the details) that was unable to sell for 2-3 weeks, so you never know. Good luck, hope you find it quickly.
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      03-25-2015, 02:48 PM   #14
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I'm so happy to hear from folks that appreciatie why it needs to be a stick! I completely understand they aren't the best for everybody, but I'm not spending everybody's money, I want to spend mine!

I'll probably be ready to buy in late May, early June... lots of balls in mid-air right now and I just can't responsibily throw anything else into the sky until a land a few of the others. I don't expect to find it within 100 miles of Pittsburgh, but I anticpate the drive home from anywhere should be fantastic... even if it takes a few days.

So, I am trying to "know everything" so when I'm ready to buy, should the right car appear I'm not stopping to research it while somebody else drives away with it! Btw, I won't need the car... so I can wait for the right unicorn.

So, riddle me this... would you take a 535i sport package over a 550i without sport? Is it safe to say M-sport is mostly awesome cosmetics? I mostly like those, but the cosmetic stuff is pretty negotiable in my mind. The sport/comfort switch seems hard to duplicate.

That being said, my Lincoln MKS doesn't have a sport/comfort switch but it feels pretty tight since I've added H&R springs to it, so I'm comfortable making things my way if there's a way to do that. Maybe a 550i non-sport (if that's the unicorn I find) could be tweaked a bit and I'd have my engine and suspension too?

Thanks for the insights!
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      03-26-2015, 08:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpfarrell
I'm so happy to hear from folks that appreciatie why it needs to be a stick! I completely understand they aren't the best for everybody, but I'm not spending everybody's money, I want to spend mine!

I'll probably be ready to buy in late May, early June... lots of balls in mid-air right now and I just can't responsibily throw anything else into the sky until a land a few of the others. I don't expect to find it within 100 miles of Pittsburgh, but I anticpate the drive home from anywhere should be fantastic... even if it takes a few days.

So, I am trying to "know everything" so when I'm ready to buy, should the right car appear I'm not stopping to research it while somebody else drives away with it! Btw, I won't need the car... so I can wait for the right unicorn.

So, riddle me this... would you take a 535i sport package over a 550i without sport? Is it safe to say M-sport is mostly awesome cosmetics? I mostly like those, but the cosmetic stuff is pretty negotiable in my mind. The sport/comfort switch seems hard to duplicate.

That being said, my Lincoln MKS doesn't have a sport/comfort switch but it feels pretty tight since I've added H&R springs to it, so I'm comfortable making things my way if there's a way to do that. Maybe a 550i non-sport (if that's the unicorn I find) could be tweaked a bit and I'd have my engine and suspension too?

Thanks for the insights!
I have both a 2011 535i 6 speed manual and a 2013 Z4 sdrive35i 6 speed manual. The 535i is a great manual if you are looking for a good balance of fuel economy and performance. It works well for me, but I do think it would be even better if it had a more responsive throttle and more low end torque. I have looked at a Dinan tune, but if I want performance, I turn to the Z4. If I had to part with both of my current vehicles and have just one, I would go with the 550i. The 535i sport package won't replace torque, but do check into reliability on the 550i V8 though.

Unfortunately, neither of the manuals I have with the six cylinder engines are sold new in the US anymore. That is why I display a single magnetic "Save the Manuals" sticker on both!

Speaking of V8 sedans and 6 speed manuals, the Road and Track comparison of the 2003 BMW M5 and the 2015 Chevy SS is a good read: http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars...-chevrolet-ss/
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      03-26-2015, 09:52 PM   #16
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Row Row Row your boat.......
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      03-27-2015, 07:42 AM   #17
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Row Row Row your boat.......
Meh, paddles are for boats!
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      03-27-2015, 09:03 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpfarrell View Post
I'll probably be ready to buy in late May, early June... lots of balls in mid-air right now and I just can't responsibily throw anything else into the sky until a land a few of the others.
C'mon now, that's completely "common sense" thinking, where's fun in that? I wasn't even on the market for a new car when I spotted mine, so, there goes "being ready to buy".


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpfarrell View Post
So, riddle me this... would you take a 535i sport package over a 550i without sport? Is it safe to say M-sport is mostly awesome cosmetics? I mostly like those, but the cosmetic stuff is pretty negotiable in my mind. The sport/comfort switch seems hard to duplicate.
Impossible to give you good advice here, really depends what you value more. Most folks here seem to appreciate additional power of 550, more is always better right ? . I just feel that 535i is a bit better balanced handling wise.

Since you're already used to massive amounts of power, 535 might not be enough for you, but I have to tell you, after living with it for 9 months now, I feel that pretty much ever day I have to remind myself to slow down. For me 535 is plenty and that 1+ sec. difference in 0-60 time isn't crucial in my day to day enjoyment of the car. So far, I haven't felt I "must" have more, be it highway merging, spirited driving or passing. The key here might just be DHP and different throttle response in SPORT or SPORT+ mode. Plus with manual, always being in the right RPM range.

That said, I completely get why most here prefer 550, just wasn't worth the extra price and additional gas expenses for me.
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      03-27-2015, 03:33 PM   #19
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Bbb, thank you! My current hot rod Lincoln is fast but it's not very fun.

The little Fiesta ST (it's like a puppy... with a turbo according to Top Gear Magazine) is very very fun... even though it needs 2 more seconds than the Lincoln to hit 60. The Fiesta is very responsive and I can ring it out a bit without getting arrested. Hopefully.

I think I'm pretty sure at this point that I'd be delighted to own either version of the unicorn and that will make my search easier.

The lease on my Fiesta runs through January 2016, so while I'd probably find a way to buy an F10 next week if the right one appeared on my iPad, late-May to early summer is still well ahead of what any rationale human being would do. But this is about cars, so I try to apply logic very sparingly!

Thanks again,

Greg
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      03-30-2015, 06:41 PM   #20
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I know you don't want to hear this but as an F10 535 MT orderer/owner I wouldn't get it again, it just isn't a good match with a car of this bulk and doesn't really add anything to the driving experience. I've come from many BMW manuals and thought I'd never say this but the 8-speed auto is a much better fit. Don't fool yourself into thinking a 6-MT going to feel anything like the E60 versions you've tried out as it won't.

My car was for sale back from December 2013 - June 2014 (I had gotten an E90 to replace it) and got nary a bite and decided to keep it. Folks in this category just want loaded out automatics. You are also going to have problems dumping it at Carmax, they'll discount the MT (ask me how I know).
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      03-30-2015, 08:40 PM   #21
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Keyser, thanks for the perspective! I enjoy the 5-speed manual in my old F250 and it scales at 6200lbs empty. I understand the F10 seems to have less of an edge than the E60s, and I think our E61 has a little less bite than our E39 Touring (5-speed of course!) had, but I think I'm willing to give the 6-speed a try. Thanks for the warning on selling it though I hope not to cross that bridge for a long time as I believe the days of finding another upscale manual sedan have about ended.
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      03-31-2015, 12:33 PM   #22
Keyser Soze
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Drives: 2013 535
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern California

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I learned how to drive stick back in 1982 in my pops 1981 Ford F150, man that clutch was stiff!

Don't discount the 8speed sport auto's - at least go test them out as your inventory of 2011-2013 MT M-sport F10's are under 3% or something crazy. Plus with all the other electronic gizmo's to run and with even the steering wheel volume control on the RIGHT hand side of the wheel....your right hand will get quickly annoyed with having to shift around town. The 1st gear feels really short and choppy too and since you can't actually hear the engine (due to the sound insulation and exhausts) it's hard to pull away smoothly or have any "corner downshifty" fun like you still can in a 3 series.

JMHO
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2013 F10 535i M-Sport, Sophisto Grau, 6-speed MT
2011 E90 335i Sport, Jet Black, Sport Auto, Performance Edition
2002 E46 330i Sport, Jet Black, 5-speed MT, lots of upgrades
2001 E46 330Ci Sport, Steel Grey, 5-speed MT....and more
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