Next BMW M3 could keep manual transmission after all

What will the take rate be?

BMW is slowly but surely moving away from the manual transmission. The M5 is automatic-only and the 2020 3 Series won't be offered with a stick in the United States. The German firm might make an exception for the next M3/M4, according to a recent report.

Anonymous inside sources told website BMW Blog there are a lot of details about the next-generation M3 that haven't been finalized yet. One is whether to offer a manual transmission. An earlier report claimed the option was off the table but the insiders said it hasn't been ruled out yet. Keeping the stick alive would keep enthusiasts happy -- at least in theory. In application, the take rate for the manual transmission on the last M3/M4 was small at best, especially outside of the United States.

BMW still hasn't decided whether the 2021 M3 will be rear- or all-wheel drive. That could be the deciding factor. If it's rear-wheel drive, offering it with a manual would be relative cost-efficient. If it's all-wheel drive, it will likely settle for the ubiquitous eight-speed ZF automatic because developing a manual compatible with the xDrive system would be far too costly and time-consuming.

Engineers and product planners need to act fast. The next BMW 3 Series made its debut last month at the Paris auto show and so the M3 is expected to arrive by the end of 2019.

Photo by Ronan Glon.

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