As avid readers, 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. BMW has apparently heard about this hate speech. They have decided to give one more manual, the BMW Z4 M40i 2025.
Yes, folks, BMW’s roadster is soldiering on for another year and, what’s more, it’s getting a manual transmission. And unlike some BMWs who get a lower-powered tune when they have three pedals, 2025 Z4 M40i has the same 382-horsepower 3,0-liter straight six when it’s equipped with the new available six-speed. 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. The software for the variable steering and electronic rear dampers has been modified, along with the logic of traction control and differential. Manual Z4s differ visually through standard gloss-black exterior trim, new aerodynamic flaps in the rear fenders, and red brake calipers. The manual Z4 is the only vehicle to offer Individual Frozen Dark Green Metallic Paint and San Remo Green. Vernasca leather comes in five colors.
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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