BMW is pulling the iconic Apple’s “One More Thing” next year with the introduction of an exciting “old”, yet new product. Welcome the 2024 BMW Z4 M40i with a six-speed manual. This ultimate roadster has been rumored for years now and even though we spilled the beans earlier this year, not many took notice. Now, the car is finally here and it’s a glorious one. A few weeks ago, BMW invited me to row my own gears in a stunning Frozen San Remo Green 2024 BMW Z4 M40i prototype. BMW tells me that this six-speed manual Z4 was developed specifically for the U.S. market with a lot of involvement in the development process from the U.S. product team.
Manual Transmission Revival: Tailored for the U.S. Market
While the overall looks of the car have not changed much, the underpinnings have. So let’s start with that. Under the hood, we’re still getting the glorious B58 3.0 liter six-cylinder engine making 382 horsepower. But instead of sending the power to the tried-and-proven ZF 8-speed automatic, BMW decided to give the Z4 a proper send off. And that means a revised six-speed manual transmission, also developed by ZF.
During my ride with the 2024 BMW Z4 M40i, Nick Gerstner, Product Manager of BMW Z4, tells me that the transmission was engineered specifically for this new Z4. It starts with the shift linkage which is different than the Supra’s. It also has a shorter gear lever and a completely different shifting behavior than all of the 6-speed manuals offered today in other BMW products. Plenty of new and old M2/M3/M4 customers complained about the somewhat vague and rubbery shifter in their cars. The first to second gears of the BMW six-speed are always twitchy, with long throws, making it a bit difficult to have a clean shift.
It’s well known that the F87/G87 M2, G8x M3/M4 and Toyota Supra share a common ZF 6-speed transmission with comparable shafts and clusters. Any variation in shift feel is likely attributable to differences in the isolation and bushing of the gear lever. This is the reason why the six-speed manual in the Supra feels different. The Japanese automaker opted to uniquely tune their manual transmission to align with the Supra’s character. BMW took note of this, particularly in response to customer feedback.
Let me start with this: The revised six-speed manual in the 2024 BMW Z4 M40i is fantastic! The shorter shifter is great, the shifting is quicker and more precise (think Porsche transmissions), and going from first to second is extremely smooth. The third gear is still quite long allowing you to take the Z4 to high speeds before having to shift. Couple this revised six-speed manual with the equally fantastic B58 six-cylinder and you have a winner on your hands. The rev matching works brilliantly as well, but of course, you can turn it off if you’d like.
Staggered Wheels, Adaptive Dampers, and Rear-End Enhancements
But there is a lot more to the new 2024 BMW Z4 M40i. The M Performance Z4 comes with a staggered wheel setup, 19 inch at the front and 20 inch in the back. The tires are 19″ 255/35 front and 20″ 285/30 in the rear. The staggered wheels will give you additional rear traction, along with a more aggressive look. But at the same time, the Z4 loses a bit of its balance in favor of a more playful rear end with increased understeer when cornering. Speaking of the rear-end, the axle assembly now comes from the BMW M240i, including its rear M differential.
Additional mechanical and software adjustments involve reinforced front anti-roll bar mounts and recalibrated adaptive dampers. These changes heavily influence the driving dynamics of the 2024 BMW Z4 M40i. While driving on a series of winding roads, the new BMW Z4 M40i displayed exceptional agility, featuring precise turn-ins, and a responsive and grippy front-end. Although I didn’t push the car to its limits (given the sole Z4 prototype in the States), it delivered a remarkable composure and rigidity, virtually eliminating any noticeable body roll.
Regrettably, I didn’t get the opportunity to evaluate the new BMW Z4 M40i on various pavements, as those around Greenville were consistently smooth. However, at an initial assessment, the suspension setup appears somewhat firmer. I’m curious if there are any stiffer bushings incorporated as well. On the whole, the suspension noticeably approaches that of an M car, a development that will surely resonate with buyers longing for the return of the iconic Z4 M.
Refined Steering Tuning
Weighing in at approximately 3550 lbs, the Z4 M40i delivers a sense of lightness not typically found in other contemporary BMWs, surpassing the agility of models like the M240i or M2. Positioned low within the vehicle, and with the open top, I got that feeling of direct connection to the car, reminiscent of the iconic driving dynamics associated with the Ultimate Driving Machine. This feeling is further heightened by the refined steering tuning, which, despite no mechanical alterations, delivers more road feedback than any other BMW I’ve recently tested. Furthermore, it reduces the previous dead spot in the middle, offering increased precision and sharpness—arguably the best in a BMW today.
The combination of the six-speed manual and the B58 3.0 liter turbo is brilliant. The Z4 M40i is constantly eager to pull hard making the car feel a lot lighter than it is. You will, of course, get some tailspin under high lateral forces, but you will only feel the rear end’s limit if you add some steering angle. Granted, I need more seat time to really push the car and see what it can do. A track would be even better!
Evolution of Driving Modes in the 2024 Z4 M40i
The driving modes are also tuned different in this 2024 BMW Z4 M40i. In the model we tested earlier this year, there was a wide gap between Comfort and Sport. But in this new iteration, they feel fairly close to each other, bringing them in-line to what you’d feel in a full M car. In fact, I would actually call this Z4 the M40is, not full M yet, but more than an M Performance automobile model.
The driving modes in the 2024 BMW Z4 M40i have undergone distinct tuning. In a prior model tested earlier this year, there was a substantial contrast between Comfort and Sport modes. However, in this latest iteration, the models have a much narrower gap, aligning more closely with the experience found in a full M car. In essence, I would even characterize this Z4 as the M40is—not quite a full M, but certainly more than an M Performance model.
A Compelling Choice for Enthusiasts
During my test drive of the BMW Z4 M40i in early 2023, I mentioned that if there were room in my garage and my 1M wasn’t already there, this would unquestionably be the BMW I’d choose to purchase today. It undeniably embodies the essence of the Ultimate Driving Machine! And this new variant takes that a statement a notch. Is it a full M car? Of course not, but it’s the closest we’ll ever to a Z4 M.
In the end, this BMW Z4 M40i stands out as one of the most enjoyable car you can currently buy from the brand, and I believe it’s destined to become a future classic. It offers everything one desires in a roadster, from an impressive soundtrack to a superb six-speed manual transmission. This showcases BMW’s ability to fine-tune the 6-speed manual to perfectly complement the car’s character. The hope is that we’ll witness this improved transmission in upcoming models, whether in a facelifted M2 or unique, one-off models.
We will learn more about the colors, packages and options in early 2024, but for now it looks like BMW will bundle the six-speed manual with all the other hardware and software upgrades into a single package. So if you want the manual, you need to buy into this overall upgrade. The rumored price? Around $3500 over the base MSRP price of $66,295.
Luckily, this is not a limited edition car. So after it goes on sale in Spring 2024, you can order as many as you want. According to our sources, the “regular” Z4 models’ production will end in March 2026, so it’s likely the six-speed manual one will follow the same plan.
Yes! Starting in March 2024, BMW will offer a separate model on the Z4 M40i with a revised six-speed manual.
For now, we know that the BMW Z4 M40i six-speed manual was developed specifically for the U.S. market, but it’s likely that some markets could order one as well.
The rumored price is around $69,795.