The BMW Z4 M40i is a sporty roadster that combines performance, luxury, and style. It has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine that delivers 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph. It also has a sophisticated suspension system, adaptive dampers, M Sport brakes, and M Sport differential to enhance its handling and agility.
But what makes the 2025 model year even more special is that it offers a 6-speed manual transmission for the first time ever. This is a rare option in the modern automotive market, where most cars have switched to automatic or dual-clutch transmissions. The manual transmission gives the driver more control and engagement over the car and a more authentic and fun driving experience. It also reduces the car’s weight by 44 pounds, improving fuel efficiency and balance.
Why the Manual Transmission Matters
The manual transmission is a dying breed in the automotive industry. According to a report by Car and Driver, only 1.1% of new cars sold in the US in 2020 had a manual transmission. This is a sharp decline from 7.7% in 2010 and 22.4% in 1992. The reasons for this trend are manifold, but some of the main factors are:
- Automatic transmissions have become more advanced, efficient, and responsive than ever before, making them more appealing to drivers who value convenience and comfort.
- Dual-clutch transmissions have become more popular in high-performance cars, as they offer faster shift times and better acceleration than manual transmissions.
- Manual transmissions are more expensive to produce and maintain, as they require more parts, labor, and training. They also have lower resale value and demand in the market.
- Manual transmissions are less compatible with modern technologies such as hybrid systems, electric motors, and driver-assist features, which require more electronic and software integration.
- Manual transmissions are less suitable for urban driving, where traffic and congestion make them more tiring and stressful to operate.
As a result, many automakers have discontinued or limited the availability of manual transmissions in their models, especially in the US market. Some of the notable examples are:
- Audi stopped offering manual transmissions in the US in 2019, citing low customer demand and emissions regulations.
- Mercedes-Benz phased out manual transmissions in the US in 2011, saying that they were not profitable and not relevant for their brand.
- Porsche only offers manual transmissions in select models, such as the 911 Carrera S, the 718 Boxster, and the 718 Cayman. However, they charge a premium for them, as they are considered special orders.
- Ferrari has not produced a manual transmission car since 2012, when the last 599 GTB Fiorano with a manual gearbox was sold. The company’s CEO, Luca di Montezemolo, said that manual transmissions were obsolete and not suitable for their cars.
Therefore, the fact that BMW offers a manual transmission in the Z4 M40i is a bold and welcome move for driving enthusiasts who appreciate the tradition and thrill of manually shifting gears. It is also a competitive advantage for BMW, as it sets the Z4 M40i apart from its rivals, such as the Audi TT RS, the Mercedes-Benz SL 450, and the Porsche 718 Boxster S, none offering a manual transmission option.
How the Manual Transmission Works
The manual transmission in the BMW Z4 M40i is a 6-speed unit that is sourced from Getrag, a German transmission manufacturer that has a long-standing partnership with BMW. It is similar to the one used in the BMW M2 Competition but with some modifications to suit the Z4 M40i’s engine and chassis.
The manual transmission has a short-throw shifter that provides precise and smooth gear changes. It also has a rev-matching function that automatically blips the throttle when downshifting to synchronize the engine and transmission speeds and prevent jerks and jolts. The driver can turn this feature on or off, depending on their preference and skill level.
The manual transmission also has a launch control function that allows the driver to achieve the best possible acceleration from a standstill. To activate this function, the driver has to:
- Engage the first gear and press the clutch pedal.
- Press the M button on the center console to enter the M mode.
- Select the Sport+ setting for the engine, steering, and stability control systems.
- Press the DSC button to deactivate the dynamic stability control system.
- Release the brake pedal and floor the accelerator pedal.
- Release the clutch pedal as quickly as possible.
The launch control function will then optimize the engine torque and limit the wheel spin to ensure the fastest possible start. The driver can then shift through the gears manually, using the shift indicator on the instrument cluster or the head-up display to know when to change gears.
What the Manual Transmission Costs
The manual transmission in the Z4 M40i is a no-cost option that can be ordered by the customers who prefer it over the 8-speed automatic transmission that comes as standard. The automatic transmission is a ZF unit that has paddle shifters and sport mode for manual control. It also has a launch control function that is similar to the one in the manual transmission.
The base price of the Z4 M40i is $65,900, which is $3,600 more than the 2024 model year. The price increase is due to some changes and upgrades that BMW has made to the Z4 M40i for 2025, such as:
- New exterior colors: San Francisco Red Metallic, Frozen Grey II Metallic, and Frozen Orange Metallic.
- New interior colors: Ivory White Vernasca Leather and Black Vernasca Leather with Blue Contrast Stitching.
- New wheel designs: 19-inch M Double-spoke Bi-color Jet Black and 19-inch M Double-spoke Cerium Grey.
- New standard features: Heated steering wheel, wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
- New optional features: M Carbon exterior package, M Driver’s package, and M Sport Individual package.
The Z4 M40i also comes with a complimentary 1-year membership to the BMW M Track Days program, which allows the owners to participate in exclusive and professional driving events at various racetracks across the US. This is a great opportunity for the owners to hone their driving skills and enjoy their cars to the fullest.
What the Manual Transmission Means
The manual transmission in the Z4 M40i is a statement by BMW that it is still committed to the passion and pleasure of driving. It is a tribute to the heritage and legacy of BMW, which has produced some of the most iconic and beloved manual transmission cars in history, such as the 2002, the E30 M3, the E39 M5, and the E46 M3.
It is also a gift to the fans and customers of BMW, who have been requesting and demanding a manual transmission option for the Z4 M40i since its launch in 2019. BMW has listened to their feedback and delivered on their wishes, proving it is still responsive and attentive to its loyal base.