Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – The last entry in BMW of North America LLC’s reintroduced M3 lineup, the ’08 convertible, makes its U.S. debut at the New York International Auto Show next week.

BMW previously unveiled the M3 coupe and sedan with a 414-hp engine – the first V-8 in the M3.

Like the coupe and sedan, the convertible will feature an optional double-clutch 7-speed transmission, developed by Haldex AB exclusively for BMW. It is the first DCT specifically designed for high-revving engines.

Odd gears are on one shaft in the transmission box, while even gears are on another shaft. BMW engineers promise exceptionally fast gear changes, because up-shifts are pre-selected by the M DCT Drivelogic brain of the transmission. With the new transmission, 0-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration is 0.2 seconds quicker than with the 6-speed standard manual.

There’s a drive-logic button on the center console in front of the stick shift that allows drivers to choose how fast they want to shift. There are six modes in manual and five in automatic. Shifts occur in milliseconds. If the driver prefers, there are also paddles for manual shifting behind the steering wheel.

The DCT will be a $2,700 option in the U.S., significantly lower than in Europe, where it runs €3,800 ($5,800)