I believe, at least for the early E36, that BMW may have made the LSD available for improved traction in messy weather rather than for any performance benefit. As an example, my 1993 325i is optioned with the LSD, as part of the "inclement weather package" (which also includes heated seats, mirrors, etc.). I don't believe the LSD was offered as a separate option, at least on the sedans.
My car was built before any type of stability/traction control was available. In lieu of traction control (which didn't become available until '97, IIRC), a LSD was a logical choice to help improve traction on ice and snow.
ccotenj... Check out the latest issue of Bimmer magazine, October 2002. Lengthy article on the restoration of two 2002s. Here is what they wrote for the 1973 2002tii: "For starters, the 2002's conventional four-speed transmission was replaced with a more modern overdrive five-speed, a popular gearbox found in the four-cylinder 320i model. To aid acceleration, the stock 3.64:1 differential was also replaced with a 3.90:1 LIMITED SLIP, also common with the E21-chassis 320i." Adding LSD to either a restoration or just to enhance a current car is critical if performance is your goal.
1pierce... Check out the July 2002 issue of C&D. Their comparison of the Acura 3.2CL Type S 6-speed manual versus 330Ci. They spend a large amount of time talking about the Type S's LSD: "The car's spanking new helical limited- slip differential PRODUCES AN AMAZING TRANSFORMATION that conceals any suggestion that it is a front-driver.... Another notation: 'Love the way it bites into corners. The limited slip really work. Inspires tons of confidence.'"
Also, C&D has wrongly reported at least a couple times that the 330i and other current BMWs have LSD. Check out their December 2000 issue. Full road test of 330i. Checi out the tech specs page (p. 105). Under "Drivetrain", "Final-drive ratio" it says 2.93:1, but then wrongly says "limited slip". They did this again in a multi-car test of the 330i. Keep wondering if they don't always have the M3 on their mind?
#19144 of 30250 BMW 5-speed vs Acura 6 Speed
Jul 25, 2002 (6:24 pm)
The July 2002 issue of C&D comparison between the 6-speed Acura 3.2CL Type 2 and 5-speed manual 330Ci has an interesting discussion about the relative merits of each. They saw no advantage in the 6-speed unit. As they wrote:
"But one puzzles: Is the extra cog really needed, or is it more technological gadetry like four-wheel steering? Although the six-speed is a pleasure, the five-speed onboard the BMW is every bit as effective in seeking maximum performance and only boosts the revs at 80 mph to a modest 3200. The BMW also produces more miles per gallon (30 versus 28) based on EPA highway numbers. So what's the point of six speeds, other than to expect seven or more in some pointless race for a bigger number?"
#19145 of 30250 6 Speeds Don't Always Improve Performance
Jul 25, 2002 (6:44 pm)
The current Sept 2002 issue of European Car has a wonderful article titled "Quaife Sequential Six-Speed Test." They tested 3 VWs. A stock 5-speed Jetta 1.8T, a stock six-speed 1.8L Turbo S Bug, and a 6-speed Autotech prepared Golf GTI with the very expensive Quaife sequential dog-engagement transmission. Great article about the theory of 5 vs 6 speeds as well as regular versus sequential dog-engagement transmissions. Two wonderful charts. First shows the individual and overall gear ratios in all three cars. The second shows the acceleration figures for each, the maximum speed in each gear for each, and the time it took to shift (plus total time of all shifting to get to 4th gear.
Points out that the stock 6-speed Turbo S was slower 0-60 mph than the stock 5-speed Jetta 1.8T because the Jetta could go all the way up to 66.4 mph in 2nd gear while the Turbo S could only get to 53.1 mph in 2nd gear, and thus had to shift to 3rd to get to 60 mph. The 6-speed Turbo S was only quicker in about the first 60 feet, but was slower 0-60 mph, 20-80 mph, and 1/4 mile. Due to the individual gear ratios and final drive chosen.
My traction control engages during any significant acceleration in the rain--particularly on these Houston streets as Seivwrig notes above. My '95 325i I think was the first year they offered it on the 3 series and it is handy particularly when wet. Of course if I were a better driver it would not be necessary, but it does help keep my exuberance from becoming folly.
I know the 6sp may be mostly gimmick, but again the market segment seems headed that way and so one can only imagine that BMW will follow soon. Look at the new Z4 roadster. They will even offer SMG on this in the spring. I am pretty confident that the 2004 3 series will at least add these changes, if it doesn't also get valvetronic.
I agree that the first 5 gears could stay about the same, but a 6th gear with a huge ratio for overdrive might be helpful for driving on the highway. It is reasonable to think that other things being equal you might be able to squeak another 1-2mpg out of this.
1pierce... Found the other C&D mistake I was thinking of. The seven car comparison in the February 2002 issue. C&D wrongly shows the 330i as having "limited slip" (p. 48, "Vital Statistics"). I suspect they have the LSD-equipped M3 on their minds.
I think what you see in the 2003 Z4 and 2004 5er will dictate what you see for the 2004 3er. My guess is that the 330i will get the six speed and SMG but It will probably be in 2004. BMW has made changes like this on the last year of a chassis in the past. The 3er may also get the same engines as the 2004 5er.
I was going to wait and see about the new 5er but my wife wants a new house. I guess I will wait have to wait for our new car. My wife likes CountryPlace or Shadow Creek Ranch. Savannah could also make the list. Back to the 3er, the way that I see it. The 2002 even got mid year changes with the seats, so the 2003 could get the same treatment. The Premium Pkg is adding more and standard features have increased. I just think that you will have to wait another year for the engine. When BMW did the valvetronic for the 3er compact in 2002, they also put them in the 3er. I think this could happen to the 3er when the 5er gets the new engines. I guess the next issue becomes, do you want a new engine that has not been proven? With what we see for the 2003 Z4, 3er and X cars, I think we are seeing cars that are going to be more suited to Americans. The rest of the world will still get more expensive Bimmer and a la carte at that. Compare the price of a Bimmer in the U.S. versus the Philippines versus the U.K. We get a good deal. With the Euro matching the dollar, I can't see E.D. been discounted too much longer. Worse, it could get like E.D. on a Porsche , where it is a pay option. Could the demand drop if the Bimmer approaches M-B like prices?
I'll see y'all in a week. Will be in Sheridan,IL and Milwaukee, WI? I might check in but I have not intention of turning on the laptop outside of finding things to do in Chicago and the West Suburbs.