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Next BMW M4 keeping manual transmission

BMW will offer both rear- and all-wheel drive variants.

It may not make much sense from a business perspective, but BMW remains committed to to the manual transmission as it designs the next-generation M4. The Munich-based firm confirmed it wants to keep the stick alive for as long as possible.

"I think, in the overall portfolio, manuals will disappear. But I think M4 should be the fortress of manual. So the last manual transmission which will die, it should die in an M4, as late as possible. That's my view," Klaus Fröhlich, BMW's development chief, told Road & Track on the sidelines of the Los Angeles auto show.

Fröhlich conceded quick-shifting automatic transmissions have the undeniable advantage when it comes to performance, especially on a race track. And, he admitted the stick-shift is dying, but he predicted BMW will offer a manual at least through the life cycle of the next-generation M4. What happens after that is up in the air. Fröhlich noted demand for three-pedal cars is so low that BMW can't justify developing a manual transmission from scratch. Instead, it will update its existing unit for as long as possible.

He also spoke about how the straight-six engine in the next M4 will get its power to the ground. The rumors of an all-wheel drive model aren't entirely false. The M4 will launch with rear-wheel drive, but Fröhlich revealed an all-wheel drive variant will join the line-up sooner or later. Both will likely be sold side-by-side.

"I always really appreciated what Porsche did on the 911. They have whatever new derivative every month. I think we missed some opportunity not doing the same on M4. So I'm interested that, on M3, M4, we do more," he hinted.

BMW just barely released the new, seventh-generation 3 Series. We haven't seen the 4 Series yet, it likely won't break cover until the 2019 Geneva auto show, so we don't expect the M3 and M4 variants to make their official debut until late 2019 at the very earliest.

Note: 2018 BMW M4 CS pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.

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