For some enthusiasts, there’s just no replacement for a manual transmissions. As good as modern automatics get, many enthusiasts would still take even a mediocre manual over them. The new BMW M3 and M4 are interesting examples of that very situation, as the manual transmission versions of both cars feel very mediocre in their execution but some enthusiasts would still take that over their more cohesive Competition (automatic) variants. In this video from Joe Achilles, we get to see the BMW M4 manual and whether he’d take it over his M3’s Competition spec.
Before we get into which is better, first let’s have some context. The standard BMW M4 Coupe comes with a manual transmission as its only transmission option. With that comes less power from its 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged I6 engine — 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. While the M4 Competition only comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and more power — 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft.
Achilles owns a BMW M3 Competition, which is mechanically identical to the M4 Competition, just with two more doors. He would have bought the standard M3 with a manual transmission if he could have but the standard cars aren’t available in his home market, the UK. Which is why he was so interested to test out the M4 manual while in Germany for a couple of weeks. During that time, he was able to test the manual M4 on the Autobahn, on some stunning back roads, and even at the Nürburgring.
All that testing only reinforced his idea that the manual car would be the better one to own, as he had far more fun in the manual version. It’s not perfect, of course, but he felt that the BMW M4 manual offered a better sense of connection than his M3 Competition, despite its shortcomings. The manual in the M3 and M4 has been criticized by several journalists (yours truly included) for being vague and rubbery but it’s still a manual and does still offer a sense of connection that Achilles prefers to even his own automatic car. Check it out.