The recent introduction of the BMW M4 concept at Pebble Beach revived the ongoing speculation about the final specification of the future production cars.
At present, there are rumors that the engine will be based on an M-specific six-cylinder and boast 414hp. Some people are still suggesting it could be a triple-turbo motor as well.
A very reliable source, well placed in the chain of command, who’d driven the prototypes, assured us the block will be based on the production N55 3.0L six-cylinder. It would be a twin-turbo set-up, but not based on the previous N54 turbos. It may get an M-specific cylinder head design and manifold design.
He quoted the power as 450hp, which would give it more than the current E9X M3 V8. This would make sense since the 414hp V8 was sold alongside a 500hp M5 V10. But now that the M5 boasts 560hp from its V8 twin-turbo, it’s raised the ceiling on what the M3 and M4 can produce.
So while we’re confident about the engine specification, there’s still considerable doubt over its transmission. Most representatives we’ve spoken to assure us that a manual transmission will be offered because it’s still popular and there’s sufficient demand. Given the popularity of the M3 (and inevitably the M4) as a race- and tuner car, a manual option would seem sensible.
That said, an extremely high-ranking spokesman asserted that only the M-DCT double-clutch automatic would be offered with the M3 and M4. This flies against every other statement but could be the latest decision from BMW AG…
A third option is that the car will only get the M-DCT but US customers might have a special manual option, just as currently offered in the M5 and M6. If this is the case, it means the F3X family of M3 and M4 will probably be the very last BMW M cars with a manual transmission.
It’s worth noting that Mercedes hasn’t offered a manual gearbox with any of its AMG models for decades, and a senior representative from Audi RS GmbH assured us that the failure of the manual transmission in the TT RS means it will be the last RS model to ever have that option. And with Porsche moving in the same direction, we may be witnessing the death of the manual transmission in performance cars. RIP.
At present, all our vehicles at european car Magazine use a manual transmission, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, I’ve never even owned an auto, even after nine years of dealing with LA freeways. But if you want to see the continuation of the manual gearbox, it’s time to vote with your wallet and buy something new to bolster the figures.
Sadly, it’s no good lobbying carmakers for the option but then buying an auto because your freeway journey is terrible stop/start traffic. They’re running a business and will sell what customers are buying. So buy a manual before they disappear forever!