Future BMW M Models Will Drop Manual Gearbox
Deep down, we all knew this would happen eventually. BMW’s new M boss, Frank van Meel, has announced that the manual transmission likely won’t be around too much longer on M models. The reasons are the same ones we hear every time this kind of announcement is made: dual-clutch transmissions are faster and better for fuel economy, and of course the big reason: people just aren’t buying enough manuals. It was acknowledged that there are still quite a few fans of manuals on M cars, but with those sales continuing to decline, the future “isn’t bright.”
As a further piece of bad news, Van Meel also announced that M would be putting a 600-horsepower cap on all M models. For the higher-volume models like the M3 and M4, this won’t be much of an issue, at least not for the foreseeable future, but bigger models like the M5 are pretty close to that line already. That’s not to say that BMW won’t be working on ways to make better use of that power in future versions of the car, but the words “horsepower cap” are never something you want to hear in connection to something like the M division.
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Why it matters
It is not an easy thing for me to say, but there is a logic to the case against manual transmissions. They no longer offer much of fuel economy advantage over even regular automatics anymore, and in the performance department, a DCT can execute a shift much faster than is humanly possible. Manuals do add to the driving experience, and this is why their fans are so adamant about their superiority. But even in the models that draw the most purists, manual transmission sales are shrinking to the point where there will no longer a business case for them on volume-selling, high-performance cars. So go buy that manual M now, there will never be a better time.
You can check our speculative review of the 2018 BMW M5 here.