Next BMW M3/M4 will get a stick-shift, after all

At the recent M Festival put on by BMW Canada, Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW’s M division, sat down for an interview with BMW Blog wherein he gave some clues about the direction that the automaker’s performance sub-brand will be taking. We’ll likely see more racing-inspired, hardcore M variants and some electrification, but the big news for enthusiasts is that BMW will indeed offer a manual transmission in the next M3 and M4 models.

When asked if BMW M could come out with a more hardcore, racing inspired M car, perhaps something like the Porsche 911 GT3, Flasch said, “We will see more customer racing activities and more racecar-driven special models,” because it gives credibility to the brand.

Flasch said that a standalone M model, not based on any existing production BMWs, is “likely,” though he wouldn’t say whether it would be a supercar in the vein of the original BMW M1. Flasch said that the M group is considering other segments for a possible M flagship. Could a standalone M be a crossover or SUV? To answer that question, I’ll simply point out that competitor Porsche sells more Macans and Cayennes than it sells sports cars.


Regarding electrification, Flasch said that BMW isn’t going to embrace technologies just for the sake of change, but that any electrification of their drivetrains will have to fit into the company’s heritage of performance, specifically mentioning “race track ability.” Flasch did say that BMW and the M group are exploring all aspects of electrification, including 48-volt mild hybrid systems, plug-in hybrids, and battery electrics. He said that the transition to electric power will be a gradual one, with different powertrain technologies likely developed in parallel. Flasch made it clear that before the M brand implements any electrification, the technology will have to “deserve the badge” and meet the specific expectations of M customers.

Flasch wouldn’t disclose other details about the upcoming M3 and M4 models, but he stressed the fact that they will be available with manual transmissions. He also said they will offer all-wheel drive with the possibility of a driver selected rear-wheel-drive mode, as is available on the current M5.

Although automatic and dual-clutch transmissions are actually faster on the track than stick shifts, Flasch, and BMW, understand how engaging a manual transmission can be for the driving experience.

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