As BMW aficionados, we often lament the disappearance of manuals in newer BMWs, but we shouldn’t. Sure, it would be lovely if you could still purchase a 3 Series–one of the few authentically BMW-like BMWs on the market–with a manual transmission. Obviously. However, BMW continues to offer its sportiest and most enjoyable vehicles with manual transmissions. Some brands are no longer receiving that, and the situation is deteriorating. Mercedes-Benz, which only offers a few low-cost manual vehicles in Europe, is planning to phase out the row-your-own gearbox completely.
“We perceive that consumer demand is turning towards electric mobility components, batteries, and (partially) electric drive systems as electrification increases,” a Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman told Automobilewoche. As a result, the company will “gradually discontinue manual gearboxes.”
To be honest, I’m amazed Mercedes-Benz has waited this long to abandon manual transmissions. There isn’t a single manual Benz on the market in North America, and there aren’t any manual Mercedes-AMGs either, although there are a few entry-level stragglers in Europe. Soon, they will be gone as well, and Mercedes-Benz will say good-by to the three-pedal ‘box.
Audi is the same way, with just a few entry-level manual cars on the market in Europe and no performance manuals. Only BMW, Volkswagen, and Porsche offer real high-performance manuals in Germany, and it wouldn’t be unexpected if VW withdrew the manual soon as well.
The manual gearbox is clearly and has been for a long time a dying breed. But it’s still strange to hear manufacturers admit outright that manual transmissions are almost extinct. It also adds perspective to BMW’s existing manual lineup. Sure, the manual transmission in the M3 isn’t particularly good, but it’s there. Furthermore, the new BMW M2 will have a manual gearbox option, which will appeal to the enthusiast client base, and BMW is working on a 3.0 CSL rebirth with solely a manual transmission. So appreciate BMW’s stick-shift gearboxes while they’re still available, since they won’t be around much longer.