Here’s Why The New BMW Z4 Won’t Get A Manual Gearbox


A full-fat BMW Z4 M is also unlikely to happen.

It’s no secret that sports cars with manual gearboxes are becoming a dying breed, so we weren’t surprised when the 2019 BMW Z4 was revealed with an eight-speed ZF automatic as the only transmission option. Speaking with Road and Track, BMW head of Research and Development Klaus Frohlich explained why the Z4 isn’t being offered with a manual. The fact is, the sports car segment is a shrinking market and there’s much more customer demand for automatic transmissions.

Frohlich argued it simply wouldn’t make financial sense for BMW to invest in engineering a manual transmission for the Z4 when few people would buy it. The only consolation is that Frohlich said he would be open to the possibility of adding a manual gearbox to the Z4 in the future – but only if there is enough customer demand to justify it.

The declining demand for sports cars is also why a full-fat BMW Z4 M is unlikely to get the green light. In fact, Frohlich admitted he had a hard time convincing top BMW executives to get the regular Z4 approved. "At the moment this segment is very small, and I had to fight hard to make the [new Z4] happen at all, honestly. It was against the finance controllers," he admitted.

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Instead, the M40i represents the range-topping model in the Z4 range as the next best thing to a full fat M model. In Europe, it has a turbocharged inline-six 3.0-liter engine producing 355 horsepower. Technical specifications will be revealed for the US later this month – let's hope it has more power since emissions regulations aren’t as strict as Europe's.