Few luxury automakers bother to cater to enthusiasts in 2024 by giving them the option to opt for three pedals instead of two. BMW is one of the exceptions by selling the M2, M3, and M4 with a stick shift, which is also coming to the Z4 M40i roadster this year. Although a company spokesperson recently said there’s enough demand to keep the three-pedal setup alive, its days are ultimately numbered.
In an interview with Italian magazine Quattroruote, BMW Member of the Board of Management Frank Weber suggested the future is looking grim for the do-it-yourself gearbox. The inevitable demise of the manual is mainly attributed to a decrease in the popularity of the once-prevalent 6MT:
“There are fun products, but let’s be honest, the volumes are getting smaller and smaller. And so, it doesn’t make sense to develop them anymore. If you want a manual M, you have to buy it now.”
There’s more to the story than just the fact more and more people prefer the automatic to the detriment of a manual. Because advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are getting more sophisticated, these newer systems are primarily engineered to work with cars that have automatic transmissions.
With these two major factors in mind, BMW suggests the end is nigh for M and M Performance cars equipped with a manual gearbox. Logic tells us the current-generation M2, M3, and M4 will be the last to allow owners to row their own gears. Ideally, the German luxury brand will keep the three pedals right until the very end.
The G87 is supposedly going to be retired in mid-2029, after the G80 dies in early 2027, and the G82 in mid-2028. The G81 M3 Touring and the G83 M4 Convertible don’t matter in this context since they’re both sold exclusively with xDrive, so only with the eight-speed torque converter Steptronic automatic transmission.
Speaking of all-wheel drive, the M2 will reportedly get xDrive in 2026, which would automatically be offered with an automatic. It’s unclear whether the all-paw model would supersede today’s rear-wheel-drive version or whether the two would peacefully coexist. If the RWD model dies roughly two years from now, the manual will go away as well.