BMW is one of the automakers doing business in American (and around the world) who has remained positive with regard to offering a manual transmission across the majority of their model range. This has been especially true of the high performance M models including the M3, M5 and M6 but when the current generation of the M5 and M6 come to an end in the next few years – they will not offer a manual transmission. Like the current M5, the next generation BMW super sedan sporting the M badge will come with a standard 7-speed (or more) double clutch transmission but the no-charge option of th 6-speed manual transmission will be gone.
The main cause for the removal of the manual transmission option for the future BMW M5 is the low take rate; a figure that the German automaker has seen declining over the past few years. BMW expects that the current M5 will see just a 15% take rate in the US - down from almost 20% the year before - and when numbers are that low the company is losing money in offering the product. The expensive procedures of testing, manufacturing and other costs associated with the manual transmission just don’t make sense when so few buyers are picking this option.
Unfortunately, the BMW M5 is a luxury car first and a high performance car second. When you take that into account and look at the types of people who buy these high priced models, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that the take rate is so low. The typical M5 owner is far more likely to putter their way from their office complex to the country club with the transmission doing the work for them than they are to look forward to banging through gears on their way to the race course. Sadly, the M5 is purchased by a great many people who are more concerned with the image of the M5 than they are the driving fun…so they go with the easier option. There are also a great many celebrity types who purchase the M5 and while those folks might be nice to look at…many of them lack the general coordination to row their own gears. After all, handling a 560 horsepower car isn’t easy as you cruise through Beverly Hills when you have to put on makeup, adjust the radio, accept a “one phone call” from your BFF who just got nailed for coke possession AND have to shift your own gears.
It should be note that the automatic transmission in the current BMW M5 is a high tech dual clutch unit that helps prevent the decline in horsepower that has been found in past models…so there is little complaint that the M5 with automatic transmission lack performance capabilities. However, there isn’t a dual clutch offered yet that offers the capacity to control the shifts of the transmission 100% and until that transmission arrives – the manual transmission is just plain more fun than an automatic.
BMW has stated that while the next generation M5 and M6 will ditch the manual transmission option and move forward with just their double clutch gearbox, the M3 will continue coming with a manual transmission.
Source: The Inside Line