Later this year, the BMW Z4 will get a manual transmission, matching its Toyota Supra sibling. It’s being made almost entirely for the U.S. market, due to high demand from U.S. customers (you’re welcome, world). That’s both fantastic and incredibly sad news. It’s fantastic because the Z4 is going to be awesome with a manual but it’s sad because the Z4 M40i will likely be the last new manual BMW ever made.
That’s a weird realization, that the end is here for BMW’s manual transmissions. We all knew the day was coming when we’d see the last row-your-own gearbox in a BMW but realizing that the day is finally here feels odd. It also almost doesn’t feel real. Surely, there’s going to be another manual BMW in the future, right? Probably not, actually.
What car could possibly even come after the Z4 that could have a manual transmission? The BMW M2 was already released and that’s the last manual M car. Every M car after that is going to be either hybrid or electric, meaning manuals are out. As for regular BMWs, the 2 Series and 3 Series are already auto-only, so too is the 1 Series hatchback in other markets. There’s no other model that could possibly give the manual transmission one last ride into the sunset. Instead, the car that will give the manual transmission that one last long ride is the BMW Z4.
This is going to be an unpopular opinion but I also don’t think there’s a better car to do it, either. The current BMW Z4 is a criminally underrated car. It isn’t quite as precise as a Porsche Boxster but, then again, what is? That shouldn’t be a knock against it, as the Z4 is it’s own thing. And it’s a great thing. Driving the Z4 M40i is like driving a Bavarian drop-top muscle car and that’s the one that’s going to get the manual and it’s going to be fantastic fun.
However, it will also be somber. Not only is the BMW Z4 M40i manual the end for BMW manuals, it’s the end for a few other things. There are no current plans to replace the Z4 after this generation. The drop-top BMW sports car is essentially dead after the Z4. And with everything getting electrified, it’s likely the last proper two-seat, gas-powered sports car in BMW history. That makes the manual BMW Z4 a very special car and one that might be coveted and beloved for many years to come. I cannot wait to get my hands on one and go for one last long drive: top down, the sights and smells of the open air, a musical straight-six exhaust note in my ears, and a six-speed gear lever in hand.