When six-speed transmissions began becoming more and more popular throughout the mid-2000s, drivers began to adapt to them. For most drivers, the change from five to six speeds was a relatively simple one, as it was just one more gear downward. Now with automatic transmissions exhibiting better fuel economy than manuals, thanks 7- and 8-speed automatics, the manual transmission needs to adapt or die.
In true Darwin-like fashion the 6-speed evolved into a 7-speed on the most recent Porsche 911 , so why hasn’t any one else followed suit? The truth behind it is that most experts decided that six speeds is about all that the average human can handle in a car. Well, BMW appears to be joining Porsche in proving the experts wrong, as according to patent drawings that surfaced recently, there is a 7-speed manual in development for BMW .
BMW isn’t trying to say that the experts are 100 percent incorrect, as all signs point toward electronic gating of the gears, which prevent a driver from accidentally shifting to 1st gear when going 70 mph and 7th gear when going 20 mph.
These drawings combined with electronic gating of the gears also bring about the possibility of a semi-truck-like 8-speed transmission option. An 8th speed would definitely place the manual transmission back into at least a 1st place tie with new automatics for fuel economy supremacy, but their widespread reality has yet to be seen, and the verdict is still out on the 7-speed variant of the 911. To date it seems like a winner, as it gives the driver six shortly spaced gears then a 7th wide, overdrive-like speed.
We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available on this patent drawing of a 7-speed transmission.
gallery: BMW 3 Series Sedan