Ultimate driving machine: BMW M5 won’t offer manual transmission?

Performance cars like the BMW luxury-performance sedan M5's make numerous concessions in the interests of comfort and civility, that cost speed and handling. But the next M5 may make a big concession, and not offer a manual transmission option.

Matthias Schrader/AP/File
In this July 29, 2009 file picture, the logo car producer BMW AG is photographed on the back of a car in front of the company's headquarter in Munich, southern Germany. Next generation M5's may make a big concession, and not offer a manual transmission option.

Performance cars are all about performance, except when they're not. In the case of luxury-performance sedans like BMW's M5, there are numerous concessions made to comfort and civility that cost ultimate speed and handling.

But the next M5 may make a big concession: no manual transmission, not even as an option.

That’s according to the development boss of BMW M, Albert Biermann.

Speaking with Inside Line, Biermann explained that the additional cost of engineering a car to offer a manual is never covered due to their low take-up rate. Because of this, the next-generation BMW M5 and M6 models won’t likely offer a manual and will instead come with dual-clutch transmissions exclusively.

This is already the case in many countries with the current generation of the cars, but in the US BMW decided to offer them with a manual because there was still sufficient demand.

"Last year, maybe 15-20 percent of our M5s in the U.S. were manuals and maybe this year it will be 15 percent. It's declining," Biermann said. "The trouble is that nobody wants it in Europe or anywhere else, so this will be the last time we do it, even for the hard-core U.S. buyers."

While the manual transmission may be dead in the M5 and M6, Biermann was happy to confirm that the M3 will continue to offer a manual transmission.

And while BMW M may be phasing out the manual transmission, Porsche has shown with its latest 911 that the manual transmission does have a bright future.

BMW, too, was recently discovered to be investigating the use of more advanced manual transmissions, including designs with seven or more gears.

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