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BMW M commits to the manual gearbox

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.

  • BMW M commits to the manual gearbox

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