While Mercedes-AMG no longer offers manuals, its arch-rival – BMW’s M division – will continue to offer them until the end of the decade, provided demand remains.
“You don’t need to be afraid of the manual going away,” BMW M boss Frank van Meel told CarBuzz.
“The manual is, unfortunately, not so widespread anymore. It’s more in the segments of the M2 and M3, and the M4. And for those cars, we continue offering the manual, and those cars will run for a long time until the end of this decade.”
BMW says if demand for three-pedal versions of each continues, it’ll continue producing them.
Timo Resch, vice president of customer, brand sales for BMW M, said the division’s engineers have pushed back against its continued availability, arguing manual Ms aren’t as fast as their auto counterparts, but there’s still demand from customers.
“We said that’s what our customers asked for. And we really actively listened to our customers, to our fan base. The fans asked for it. They got it,” said Mr Resch.
The new M2 will be the last non-electrified product launch for BMW M as it enters a new electrified era, heralded by the plug-in hybrid V8-powered XM. The next M5 is expected to share this powertrain.
The division is also expected to launch its first electric vehicles, with a prototype of an electric M3/M4 counterpart having been seen by CarBuzz.
Mr van Meel ruled out plug-in hybrid powertrains for smaller BMW M vehicles, however, suggesting the next M2 is likely to be full-electric.
“A plug-in hybrid in a small car might be a difficult issue because plug-in hybrids need to have sufficient power, even if the electric part is not available,” said Mr van Meel.
“If your base engine is not strong enough, then a plug-in hybrid makes no sense.”
The recently revealed M2 will continue to offer a choice of manual or automatic transmissions: a six-speed for the former, and an eight-speed torque-converter for the latter.
The M3 and M4 offer a six-speed manual, but only with a lower-output version of their twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine.
This engine produces 353kW of power and 550Nm of torque, while the automatic Competition models bump these figures to 375kW and 650Nm.