2024 BMW Z4 M40i Finally Receives a Manual Transmission Option in the United States

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By Car Brand Experts

In recent years, a series of BMW choices have left enthusiasts baffled about the fate of the renowned “Ultimate Driving Machine.” Reports of subscription-based heated seats (which were eventually discontinued) and creations like the XM raised doubts even among the most ardent followers. Today, there is optimism that BMW is still attentive to feedback as the 2024 Z4 M40i in the US market now offers a six-speed manual transmission.

Update: Dec. 11, 2023, 12:32 PM: As per a BMW spokesperson’s statement to The Drive, the manual M40i was introduced for media test drives at an “extremely limited preview” event, with “further details to be shared through regular channels by the end of January.” In essence, an official launch can be expected in slightly over a month’s time.

According to Car and Driver, the Z4 M40i will come bundled with a comprehensive package (estimated around $3,500) including the six-speed manual, slightly enhanced steering, and firmer adaptive dampers.

This development has been long anticipated, with speculations of a manual transmission for the BMW Z4 surfacing shortly after the Toyota Supra—sharing its mechanical underpinnings with the Z4—offered a manual variant. Fortunately, these speculations have materialized, and to sweeten the deal further, BMW is not restricting the manual option to a limited special edition but aiming to produce as many as there is demand for.

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It is noteworthy that the current-generation Z4 offered a manual option in select markets like Australia but only with the lesser four-cylinder engine. This marks the first instance where BMW is providing a manual transmission for the six-cylinder Z4 M40i and the inaugural manual-equipped G29 Z4 in the US.

Interestingly, as reported by BMWBlog, the Z4’s manual gearbox was not only specifically tailored for the US market but fine-tuned expressly for the Z4 model. While the Z4 shares its foundational ZF-sourced transmission with the Supra, it features distinctive shift linkages and a shorter gear lever. Furthermore, BMW appears to have heeded critiques of their recent manuals, which were criticized for their vague and rubbery feel. Consequently, the Z4 now boasts shorter, crisper gear shifts.

The powerhouse remains unchanged: a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six delivering 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Power is still channeled solely to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. Despite a slight dip in straight-line speed compared to its automatic counterpart, the engaging experience offered by the manual transmission more than compensates for this minor performance variance.

The Z4 M40i is perhaps BMW’s most underrated vehicle. Having personally spent considerable time driving the Z4, I can attest to its exceptional qualities; it stands out among BMW’s lineup with its superb handling characteristics. While it may not match the precision of a Boxster, its spirited straight-six engine and rear-wheel-drive dynamics lend it a mischievous persona, especially with the convertible top down. The addition of a manual transmission option is set to amplify the driving thrills even further.

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