A BMW official has reportedly confirmed that the company's sporting M division will stand by the manual transmission and offer it as an option in the next-generation M3 sedan and M4 coupe.
"It's a bit early to disclose all the details, but something I want to highlight is that we will have a manual stick shift," BMW M CEO Markus Flasch reportedly said in an interview with BMW Blog.
Take rates for manual transmissions are tanking across the industry, and with each passing year, fewer and fewer automakers see the three-pedal car as crucial to their offerings. Even BMW dropped the stick shift for the U.S.-market 3 Series, offering manual boxes only on diesel cars sold abroad, though Flasch wants M to buck the trend and continue offering manual transmissions to the people that want them.
"Manual is very important," Flasch continued. "The manual stick shift is not a performance-bringer, because an automatic transmission is just faster, you can ask any race driver. But it gives the vehicle character and I kind of compare it to people who love mechanical watches; it isn't more precise and it doesn't have any advantage at all but it's a character feature. So is a stick shift."
"We have already disclosed we will have the option of four-wheel-drive," added Flasch. "We've not decided which variant, which system, but everything that's on our current lineup—think of the M5—can be made available. The M3 and M4, I've driven the pre-production cars already and they're fantastic."
The Drive contacted BMW for confirmation of Flasch's statements, and we will update when we receive comment.
Flasch's quips seemingly shed additional light on the drivetrains of the upcoming M3 and M4, which will also reportedly offer traditional torque converter automatics. They'll have to be heavy-duty transmissions, as the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo S58 inline-six allegedly destined for use in the M3 and M4 will apparently put out 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Power could reportedly climb as high as 502 horses in the M4 CS, and further north with the addition of a water injection system like that seen on the M4 GTS.
If the M3 and M4 are indeed sold with manual transmissions, the manual M car may be safe until the mid-2020s, when BMW is expected to next redesign the 3 Series. We speculate that the end of the manual BMW will come around the time that it ceases production of V12s, which won't happen until 2023 at the earliest.