There once was a day when BMW M5s, and BMW M3s for that matter, only came with a proper manual-shift gearbox. With new technology though, the trend of dual-clutch auto transmissions has almost taken over. Shifting times are far quicker than what was previously achievable using a manual gearbox, and fuel economy has been further improved thanks to dual-clutch types.
Reports say the upcoming 2012 BMW M5 - a car that is slated to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September this year - presents far too much torque for the latest M DCT seven-speed transmission. Speculations say BMW's only other option is to go with a normal automatic. As normal automatic gearboxes come with a torque-converter, allowing for slip and smoother gear changes, huge torque loads can be pushed upon them.
The 2012 BMW M5 will feature a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with an output of around 410-430kW of power. Torque figures are unknown at this stage - the BMW X5 M does use a detuned version of the same engine and it presents 680Nm, the M5 is expected to offer even more than that.
So, rumour has it the new M5 will be fitted with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, with paddle-shifters. It will definitely sadden M5 enthusiasts if this is the case as the M5 has always been about being a true driver's car, not an automatic cruise-mobile.
These are just rumours at this stage though, we'll have to wait and see to know for sure.