You are here

Commence the street party, the BMW M3’s staying manual

“Why make good things worse?” says M Division’s boss, becoming our instant hero

The world is a troubling, vexing place to live at the moment. So take solace in a glimmer of hope from BMW, who’s confirmed the next-generation M3 and M4 will retain a manual gearbox as standard. Phew.

M Division boss Markus Flasch spoke to Top Gear at the Frankfurt motor show, confirming the next generation of his team’s core products will continue with straight-six power, nabbed from the latest X3 M and X4 M SUVs.

“This S58 engine will of course be the base for M3 and M4,” he said. “It’s our strongest ever straight-six and it’s already capable of 510 horsepower as basic, but it has not reached its fullest potential yet.”

A hint that the power output for the top-spec X3 M Competition might be a mere starting point for the M3 and M4 ranges, then. But that’s not the news to get most excited about.

“There is no point for us putting a manual gearbox into an SUV, but we will continue with a manual in the M3 and the M4. It’s a small percentage of sales – with the biggest community in the United States – but it’s something very specific that sets us apart from our competitors, because not everybody is capable of doing it. Even more so in future.”

So a DCT paddleshift transmission will remain optional, and the number one choice in most markets. But the old-fashioned among us can still indulge in doing things ourselves. “It adds a lot of character, and while it may not be the more competitive variant, people like it,” adds Flasch. “That’s the crucial thing about our business: we have huge heritage. People love M and recognise the three stripes, everyone knows what they stand for. So why make good things worse?”

It’s a sentiment vehemently rejected by Flasch’s counterpart at Mercedes-AMG, Tobias Moers, who almost spat out his coffee when we asked if he’d ever think about a retro-tastic manual in one of his future sports saloons.

“The manual gearbox is done. Yes of course, there’s the Porsche GT3, Aston with the Vantage… I know. But in the world of emissions, it’s a niche that needs a completely different calibration. Good luck with that. It’s a lot of work for not many sales.”

So, manual sports saloons. Are you with M or AMG?

Image: BMW M3 render by X-Tomi Design

Share this page: 

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content