Could it be, a stick shift in the Z4 M40i? Rumors of a manual gearbox in the M Performance version of BMW’s stylish roadster have been swirling around for a while but to no avail as an official confirmation has yet to be made. However, Spanish journalists from Motor.es have captured a prototype of the pre-facelift six-cylinder Z4 that they claim made the noises we associate with manual shifting. The spy images are available at the source link below but there are sadly no shots of the interior to show the purported manual transmission.
Car paparazzi who had the opportunity to shoot the interesting Z4 prototype told Motor.es said they were able to “perfectly appreciate the change in the sound of the engine when downshifting, accelerating fully, and shifting up a gear.” Interestingly, the BMW test driver allegedly pushed hard on the accelerator pedal in an attempt to get away from the photographers. That could be a sign he was hiding something, and a 6MT seems like a safe guess considering the six-cylinder Toyota Supra already allows owners to row their own gears.
When the Z4 LCI was launched earlier this year, BMWBLOG asked the luxury automaker about the possibility of putting a do-it-yourself gearbox in the M40i. A spokesperson told us the engineers are thinking about adding the essential clutch pedal but without saying it’s actually going to happen. However, our sources close to BMW have told us that 2024 has always been the target date, so we’ll likely have to wait a bit more for the enthusiast-focused M40i.
It wouldn’t take rocket science to fit a stick shift inside the M40i taking into account that the one found in the mechanically related Supra is adapted from the Z4 sDrive20i. That means most of the hardware is already available but some adaptations are required for the ZF transmission. The Supra’s ‘box received a larger-diameter clutch and different gearing, among other tweaks.
Insiders claim BMW intends to kick off production of the six-speed Z4 M40i in March 2024, which would imply an official debut at the beginning of next year. This is likely going to be the final update for the roadster as the Z4 is rumored to bow out in March 2026 when Magna Steyr will end production of the G29 at the factory in Graz, Austria. Sadly, a direct replacement doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.