It's looking more and more like the manual Z4 is a done deal.
Back in April, Toyota revealed a version of the GR Supra (that's the top-tier 3.0 model) with a six-speed manual gearbox. That transmission comes from BMW, but despite the fact that the Supra and the BMW Z4 share a platform and despite the fact that the entry-level Z4 has been available with a manual (in other markets) for some time, there has been no confirmation that the range-topping Z4 M40i trim - which shares its B58 3.0-liter straight-six engine with the GR Supra - would get the same three-pedal configuration. However, there were rumors that it would happen, and now it has been officially confirmed, albeit by mistake.
The accidental confirmation comes via BMW Netherlands' online configurator, where the option of deciding between two transmission types was briefly available. This inadvertent leak has since been closed, but it effectively confirms what we always expected. There is one problem, however: we don't know if the stick will only be available in Europe.
Cast your mind back to 2018, when the Z4 was revealed for the first time. As we touched on at the outset, the only manual-equipped Z4 models on offer were sold in other markets. One of them was Australia, and sales there were dismal - just two manual Z4 sDrive20i models were shifted in two years. However, it's worth remembering that most enthusiasts like horsepower more than they like engagement, and the Z4 M40i would offer both.
Yet, we remain cynical about the possibility that the Z4 would be offered in America with a manual. For one thing, the GR Supra is a far more attractive car to driving enthusiasts than the Z4. This is party because of the effeminate (but terrific, in our opinion) nature of the styling, but factors like Toyota's unique manner of developing the car and the simple fact that it has a roof have seen the GR Supra become far more popular in just about every market it is offered than any version of the Z4. In addition, the Z4 is already a slow seller compared to other sports cars like the 2 Series and M2, so it simply may not be worth BMW's time and effort to make a manual Z4 available here.
Sticking with the issue of demand, you may recall that the GR Supra is only getting a manual because fans of the car clamored for it. As a frequent BMW forum reader, this writer has not seen much of an outcry among Z4 owners who are disappointed with the lack of a stick shift. And those that do moan tend to be told to buy an M2 rather than complaining about an already niche product's lack of a more niche configuration.
But let's end this report on a high note. The BMW Z4 is due for a mild refresh soon but is not expected to return for a new generation. Perhaps BMW will give the Z4 a proper send-off in the US by releasing it with three pedals, potentially as a future collectible, limited-edition model. And considering all the basic architecture already exists, it would not be difficult to achieve. In addition, the manual BMW performance car continues to exist mainly because of America's demand for it. Fingers crossed.