In the US, the new BMW Z4 will be sold exclusively with an eight-speed automatic, but elsewhere, things are a bit different. In its , Car and Driver reports that a six-speed manual will be available for the entry-level 20i model.
Pictured above: the six-cylinder Z4 M40i.
When asked, a spokesperson for BMW North America told us "[t]here is currently no indication of a manual, even as an option, being available on the Z4 20i. I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that this may not happen in the future, however." The spokesperson also told us the 20i model won't come to the US, regardless of transmission.
Don't be quick to get mad at BMW for depriving us of the opportunity to buy a stick-shift Z4. The 20i is very much a base model, with only 197 horsepower on tap from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Now, a great sports car doesn't need a ton of horsepower to be fun, but less than 200 might not be enough for the Z4. The automatic car weighs a little under 3100 lbs, so a manual version would still likely be a heavy car. When you consider a new Miata offers 181 horsepower and weighs just 2339 lbs, the Z4 20i doesn't make as much sense in pure sports-car terms.
Even though there isn't really a good reason to long for this possible stick-shift Z4 20i, you should be happy it exists. Why? It means that it's theoretically possible for more manual-transmission Z4s to come down the pipeline. The 30i—which will be the entry-level model in the US—uses the same four-cylinder as the 20i, just in a different state of tune. A manual with the six-cylinder M40i seems less likely, but hey, we can dream.
And of course, there's the Supra. The long-awaited Toyota sports car shares its chassis and engines with the Z4, so it's possible a manual Supra could arrive sometime in the future. When we drove a prototype Supra earlier this year, Masayuki Kai, assistant chief engineer for the project told us a manual version was "technically possible," and the existence of a stick-shift Z4 seems to confirm that.
We must temper our expectations, though. Engineers at BMW and Toyota have both told us that manual-transmission versions will only be created if there's sufficient demand. In the US, it's hard to tell if there'll be enough people asking for either: Porsche sells lots of manual-transmission sports cars here, but less than five percent of F-Types sold in the US are stick-shifts.