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Next BMW M3 could keep manual transmission after all

by Ronan Glon

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 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.