Manual transmissions are slowly being phased out in many cars, and the most recent powerhouses to axe the row-your-own option are the next-generation BMW M5 and M6.
Las year,we reported that this may happen, with BMW M Division's Frank van Meel tellingAutocar, "From a technical standpoint, the future doesn't look bright for manual gearboxes. The DCT and auto 'boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption." When we drove the current-gen model, we noticed that themanual didn't improve the performance of the sport sedan, with its unnoticeable weight advantage and slower shifts compared to the dual-clutch auto. In addition to the manual not adding any performance benefits, it's possible the decision to kill it was also influenced by a low take rate for the option. However, BMW couldn't provide a breakdown of manual transmission sales.
Now, a BMW spokesperson confirmed the news that the manual transmission will no longer be offered on the next-gen M5 and M6. However, the automaker will continue to offer it on the BMW M2, M3, and M4. Other non-M BMW models will also have an available manual transmission.
Originally, the manual transmission had to be specially developed for the U.S. market, as the twin-turbo V-8 engine delivered too much punch. The engine controller needed to be reprogrammed to preserve the transmission after manual shifting, and to make this happen, BMW invested a significant amount of time and money.
Production for the current BMW M5 and M6 models will come to an end this fall, and the six-speed manual will be replaced with a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission when the next-gen model arrives in 2017.