Z4 Will Be BMW’s Final Car With A Manual Transmission

"The end of an era."

A BMW Z4 driving off into the distance.

Image: BMW

With electrification being the order of the day for all car brands, including BMW, the manual transmission’s days are numbered. Thankfully, ze Germans are not completely done with self-shifting just yet, announcing a surprising new manual model that will likely be their last-ever manual car.

The G29 Z4 is one of BMW’s most underrated cars. The third and current generation of BMW’s two-door roadster – perhaps best known for sharing a platform with the fifth-gen Toyota Supra – just hasn’t really captured motorists’ imaginations in the same way some of its bigger stablemates like the 3 or 4 Series have, or indeed even the Supra.

It’s a shame, really, because the G29 is a fantastic car. Light, good-looking, fast and torquey with 50:50 weight distribution and little nonsense, it’s quite a ‘pure’ BMW, despite the fact that most of its customers tend to be cashed-up hairdressers.

One of the things that has perhaps held it back from being appreciated by more hardcore motoring enthusiasts has been its lack of a manual transmission. The 8-speed ZF auto in the G29 Z4 is not a bad transmission by any means, but there’s just something particularly special about driving a small, zippy convertible with a manual box. It’s a time-honoured formula.

A BMW Z4 M40i parked under a bridge.
The third-gen BMW Z4 is an underrated gem of a car. Image: BMW

Thankfully, BMW has realised this and has revealed that later this year, the top-of-the-line Z4 M40i will get a six-speed manual transmission (as will its Supra sibling – which has also been something that Toyota fanboys have been crying out for).

That six-speed, which will likely be the same unit that’s found in the current-gen M3 and M4, will be connected to a 3.0L turbocharged inline-six good for 250kW (280kW for US-spec vehicles) and 500Nm of torque.

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Interestingly, the manual Z4 is being made almost entirely for the US market, due to high demand from US customers, BMW Blog reports. So much for Americans only wanting to drive automatic cars…

It’s not clear how many right-hand drive manual Z4s will be made and therefore whether we’ll get any here in Australia, but seeing as we’re definitely getting right-hand drive manual Supras Down Under, it’s not entirely out of the question.

A closeup of the manual transmission found in a BMW M3.
The manual found in the current-gen G80 M3. It’s a very slick transmission. Image: BMW

This manual Z4 marks the end of an era. Last year, BMW confirmed that the forthcoming M2 will be the last M car with a manual transmission, and we doubt BMW will announce any more new manual cars after the Z4.

Also, by 2024, the G29 Z4 will end production, making it the last Z-car in the BMW Z-series which started with the Z1 back in 1989. We’re just glad the Z4’s getting a bit of love before we say goodbye to it forever.