BMW M commits to the manual gearbox

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The head of BMW M wants to eke as many years out of the manual gearbox as he can.

In what must be music to the ears of traditional three-pedal enthusiasts, the Bavarian brand is putting heart over head – at least under present management.

“From a technical viewpoint, there’s little reason to save it,” BMW M chief Frank van Meel was quoted as saying in the UK’s Autocar.

“It’s heavier, it’s slower and you get worse fuel consumption than the alternative.

“But the customer and the fanbase really love the manual. It gives a connection to allow them to demonstrate they can tame the beast – and that’s the point. We want to keep it,” he finished.

That’s contrary to BMW’s arch rival Mercedes-Benz, which is axing its few remaining manuals from 2023.

One of the next cabs off the rank for BMW M is arguably its most enthusiast-led model, the next-generation M2 coupe. Mr van Meel has confirmed the upcoming model will also be the last M car without some form of electrification.

The new M2 Competition is rumoured to see its outputs from its 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine increased to 335kW or even 365kW, with the six-speed manual clearly set to continue.

The BMW M3 and M4 can currently be ordered as a manual here in Australia, as could the now-old-shape M2. In the UK, a reported half of M2 orders have been for the manual.

“For the M2, every second car is bought with a manual. People want to say they can handle the beast. If they have a way of showing they can do that, then they want it – and a manual gearbox is part of that,” Mr van Meel added.

MORE: The joys of driving a manual car again

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