BMW Contemplating Manual Gearbox For Six-Cylinder Z4

Rumor / 5 Comments

We'd love to see a three-pedal Z4 in the USA, but will BMW do it?

BMW is toying with the idea of introducing a manual-equipped Z4 M40i. BMW Blog reports that a company spokesperson said a three-pedal variant is under discussion. While that's not an official comment, it's indeed promising.

Rumors of an inline-six Z4 with a manual have been around for quite some time and were further fuelled when the Toyota Supra - the Bimmer's Japanese twin - was blessed with a stick shift option last year. After all, the transmission was derived from BMW, so it should be easy for BMW to create what enthusiasts want.

In September last year, a leak suggested that the Z4 M40i manual was a sure thing. However, since that slip-up, there's been no news from BMW.

We expected the manual to debut when BMW facelifted its roadster last year, but sadly, the update consisted of minor styling and spec changes.

Driving Front Angle BMW

While it would be relatively easy for BMW to engineer a "row-your-own" Z4 M40i, the question is whether it would be worth the time and investment. In Australia, sales of the manual Z4 sDrive20i were so dismal that BMW decided to discontinue the three-pedal variant.

Even Toyota has said it doesn't believe the Supra manual will be a sales success. A spokesperson for the Japanese automaker has previously said they expect the enthusiast's preferred choice to account for just a quarter of sales. Most people prefer the automatic gearbox, it seems.

Considering that, it's hard to see why BMW would go through all the effort. Moreover, while they're very similar under the skin, the Z4 feels more like a boulevard cruiser than the sportier Supra.

Rear View BMW

Because of this difference in character, customers are less likely to spring for a manual Z4 over an eight-speed auto.

It's also easier for Toyota to justify a Supra manual as sales of the Japanese coupe are significantly higher than Bavaria's roadster. Last year, the Japanese automaker nearly topped the sports car sales chart with 4,952 GR Supras sold in the USA for the entirety of 2022. BMW managed to shift just 1,567 Z4s during the same period.

While we - and many more enthusiasts - would love to see a Z4 M40i with a six-speed manual, it just doesn't make sense for BMW to produce this desired model. It would undoubtedly become a collector's item in the coming years, so BMW could introduce it as a limited-run model with a premium price.

Gearbox Controls BMW

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