No More User Engagement, BMW Killed Manual Transmission in 2016 Models

BMW manual-transmission

All 2016 models made by BMW will now feature ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, as the Bavarian company has killed the manual gearbox.

The only leftovers with manual gearbox were the 228i, the 328i and the 428i, all of which featured four cylinder engines with manual transmission. Higher end models will still have six-speed manual, but those cost a lot more than the standard versions.

For those ready to pay a little extra for a manual transmission and more user engagement during driving, the 235i, the 340i and the 435i models still have six speed manual gearboxes.

BMW is not the only automaker in the world to remove the manual gearbox, but the Bavarian company was among the last standing premium brands with a manual transmission. BMW prides itself as being the company that offers the best driving experience and cutting the manual gearbox doesn’t help its reputation.

The good news is that the 2016 M3 and M4 models still feature manual transmission. However, BMW has said repeatedly that the company will trim the manual gearbox on those models as well. Expect the future M3 and M4 versions to feature automatic transmissions.

When compared to competitors, BMW is still the company that offers most of their cars with a manual gearbox. Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, all rival European brands, have reduced the manual gearbox options on just a handful of models. In five years, though, there probably won’t be any model with manual gearbox, as the automatic transmission is improving.

BMW said that the move to kill the manual transmission is due to low sales of models with manual gearbox. The company does acknowledge that the ZF automatic transmission doesn’t offer the perks of a manual gearbox, such as the user engagement. The ZF does offer near silent and instantaneous shifts. The user engagement is what made the BMW 3 series a special and unique car in a segment where most manufacturers opted for automatic transmission.

The good news is that the ZF automatic transmission makes the base model cars quicker than they are. Speed and power is especially important in bigger engine models. And BMW believes that once customers see the difference in power and speed, they won’t feel nostalgic about the manual gearbox.