Manuals are fun, but they don’t belong on huge commuter status symbols.
The ongoing war between fundamentalism and evolution is ever present in the world of cars. There are few better examples of this than the argument between manual transmissions and automatics. We’ve already outlined the positives and negatives of each type of transmission, but the best answer to the argument is that both options should be offered and customers should vote with their dollars. However this dollar vote has led the next generation of BMW M5 and M6 to have their manual transmissions go to the guillotine.
While purists may cry out in protest, is this loss of mechanical connection really all that bad? This depends on how the next-gen M5 and M6 will shape up to be. The M5 was once a purist’s car to the core. Through a few different reincarnations, the car has become a heavy and bloated mess that has more in common with a luxury barge like the 7 Series than with an agile incognito track car. Manual transmissions add a huge element of fun to a good driver’s car, but they can become a nuisance in heavy cars that spend more time on the commute than on a race track. The current M5 is huge both in size and weight, so it makes little sense to have a manual option, and sales numbers confirm this.
If the new M5 and M6 retain their weight and emphasis on comfort, then the loss of a manual transmission doesn’t seem like such a sad thing. It would save BMW money on design and development (since making a manual that can contain that much torque takes some serious effort). However, cars like the M2 show the automotive world that BMW knows that its fans want a light and sporty car to hoon around the track, and this ethos may trickle back up to the M5. If the next generation of M5 turns around and heads back in the direction of the older M5s, then the lack of a manual transmission would be a loss. Either way, as long as the M4, M3, and M2 continue to feature rowable gears, we’ll stay happy.