As avid readers of The Drive might vividly recall, I am not the biggest fan of BMW's manual transmissions. The shifter is always rubbery, pedal placement is disagreeable, and they're simply more difficult to drive smoothly compared to other manuals. I dislike them so much that when news broke early last year that manual BMWs would be going away, I wrote an entire article in response essentially saying, "And nothing of value is being lost," to the detriment of my inbox. Well, it seems BMW got wind of this hate speech and has spitefully decided to give the world one more manual in the form of the 2025 BMW Z4 M40i.
Yes, folks, BMW's roadster is soldiering on for another year and, what's more, it's getting a manual transmission. And unlike some other BMWs that get a less powerful tune with three pedals, the 2025 Z4 M40i gets the same 382-horsepower 3.0-liter straight-six when equipped with the newly available six-speed as it does when optioned with the automatic. Zero to 60 mph happens in 4.2 seconds which is 0.3 seconds slower than the auto, but that's the price you pay for driver involvement.
As for the gearbox itself, don't expect it to feel exactly like the Toyota Supra's manual—it's apparently been developed specifically for this car by a small team. It's a "BMW modular" transmission modified for this engine, using its own gearset, shaft, shift linkage, and bushings to deliver what a company spokesperson calls "a classic BMW feel."
As someone who has driven the manual Supra briefly and was quite satisfied with that car's shift feel in comparison to most actual-BMW shifters, this reads as somewhat of a red flag. However, early prototype reviews of the manual Z4 have been quite positive, calling the BMW's shifter superior to the Toyota's. But I'll reserve judgment until I can get my literal hands on the thing myself.
In addition to the gearbox, manual Z4s get their own chassis tuning for sharper response which includes "unique auxiliary springs" on both axles and a reinforced front anti-roll bar clamp. Electronic rear damper mapping and variable steering software programming have been tweaked, as have the traction control and differential logic. Manual Z4s visually differ via standard gloss black exterior trim, red brake calipers, and new aerodynamic flaps on the rear fenders. San Remo Green and Individual Frozen Deep Green metallic paint are both exclusive to the manual Z4 while Vernasca leather is standard with five different colors available.
The 2025 BMW Z4's manual "Handschalter" package (that's German for "hand shift") will cost $3,500 and the car will be available in March. While every BMW manual I've driven so far has left me disappointed and borderline frustrated, I'm optimistic about the Z4's new 'box. If it indeed ends up being the car that redeems the BMW manual, it will prove something I've suspected was true all along: when it comes to The Brands, cyberbullying works.
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