At the moment, we’re told that the upcoming BMW M4 CSL is going to be rear-wheel drive-only and will only use an automatic transmission. While we’re also told that a manual transmission option is not 100 percent off the table, it’s still highly unlikely that we’ll see an M4 CSL manual. And you know what, that’s okay.
When the BMW M4 CSL debuts, it’s going to be the most powerful M3/M4 of all time, making somewhere around 550-560 horsepower from its 3.0 liter twin-turbo I6. We don’t know if torque will increase much but, judging my other upgraded BMW M models, probably not. Yet, even the M3/M4 Competition — which makes 479 lb-ft of torque — is only available with an automatic transmission. While BMW could likely offer a manual transmission that could handle the torque, the shift quality wouldn’t be great.
BMW M has already said that to make manual transmissions capable of handling all of that torque can result in poor shift quality. Making a manual that can handle all that power and shift nicely is likely quite expensive and BMW doesn’t seem very interested in investing money into manual transmissions.
Since BMW isn’t very interested in investing in manuals, if the M4 CSL were to get a manual, it’d likely be the same six-speed unit as in the standard M3/M4. And that one isn’t great. The shift quality is very rubbery and doesn’t like to be rushed. If BMW could offer a 911 GT3-style manual in the M4 CSL — with the Porsche’s slick, well-oiled feeling shift quality — we’d be all for it. But that’s doubtful, given BMW’s modern track record.
However, the eight-speed automatic, while not quite as snappy as the old dual-clutch unit, works very well in the M4 Competition. It also feels as if the engine was built for that transmission from the jump, as the powertrain calibration is nothing short of perfect.
In a perfect world, would we want to see a BMW M4 CSL with a slick-shifting manual transmission? Of course. But this isn’t a perfect world and the economics of the current automotive market likely mean that BMW isn’t giving the CSL a manual and even if it were to, it’d be a lackluster unit. I don’t know about you but I think the M4 CSL would be better off with a great automatic than a subpar manual. So we’re almost certainly not going to see a manual CSL but, honestly, that’s okay.
[Spy photos by www.instagram.com/wilcoblok]