Manual Transmissions Come to Final Grinding Halt in BMW M5, M6

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
manual transmissions come to final grinding halt in bmw m5 m6

It’s had a few good days recently, but there’s no doubt the manual transmission is a patient that’s rapidly slipping away.

BMW just did its part to hasten the demise by getting rid of the stick shift option in next year’s M5 and M6, according to comments made to Car and Driver by BMW M boss Frank van Meel.

Soon, only two pedals will sprout from the firewall of the famed performance midsizers. But don’t blame the automaker. They’re just responding to consumer demand, or lack thereof.

“Demand has dropped to zero on that car,” said van Meel.

The six-speed option was made specifically for the U.S. market, with time and expense wasted in making sure the engine’s monster torque didn’t tear the unit apart. It was met with a resounding thanks, but no thanks from consumers who’d much rather have an automatic, especially if it’s in a crossover.

The refrain “Save the manuals!” might be deafening among auto journalist circles, but it’s a barely audible whisper out there in Buyerland.

BMW is continually held up as an example of automaker dedication to driving purity, but even the sun sets in paradise, to quote a cheesy song. This year, a manual transmission option was dropped from the 328i and 428i, leaving a diminishing number of lower-end models to carry the row-your-own torch.

Last year, van Meel said that dual-clutch and conventional automatics have outpaced manuals in terms of performance and fuel economy, and the stick’s future in M models will be dependent on demand.

The brand’s legendary M3 saw its manual transmission takeup rate drop by half between the current model and previous generation. Only one in four M3s sport three pedals these days, down from over 40 percent for the previous model.

There’s still time to get in on the fun, though (if that’s how you view the completely unnecessary act of shifting your own gears). Honda recently confirmed a manual transmission for its turbocharged Civic models, while the Jaguar XE bound for U.S. shore this year will also carry a stick.

For now, anyway.

[Image: © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Apr 07, 2016

    I love manuals. At one time I owned a manual transmission car and was given a Lincoln Town Car as a gift after helping bring it back to its glory one summer with my brother in law. I loved the Town Car but experienced ghost clutch and shift arm movements as I was so used to driving a stick. Alas, the Lincoln is gone as is my brother-in-law, but the manual car remains because I love driving it. The Lincoln was like driving a living room - never fun - but sometimes it was just nice to ride in a parade float with friends who never complained about leg room.

  • Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 on Apr 15, 2016

    E39 M5 and E46 M3 here, so I'm an ancient diehard. The new M3/4 has gotten so large and plush, I'm actually surprised there is still a 25% rate on manual. Nicest thing about F10 M5 manual for me -- great looking illuminated shift knob that can be retrofitted into my M3. I'll bet the M2 takeup rate is higher. Too many comments, sorry if this has been referenced already.

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