Let's cut right to the chase: In the United States, there will definitely be a manual M4. According to our source, who is best positioned in BMW to know about these sorts of things, "we will not have the GT3's problem" with the M4.
There will be a manual.
In case you're not convinced, let's look at the evidence. In North America, the take rate for M3 manuals was a staggering 44 percent over the life of the E90-series cars. And considering that the E90-series M3 sold a little less than 60 percent of its intended volume says to us that there's no way that the Bavarians would axe nearly half of its potential sales.
To be clear, it's true that BMW is ditching the row-your-own M5 and M6. Those cars are huge with a capital "H," and manuals just don't sell in cars that large. According to BMW's Albert Biermann (in an interview with that has since been removed, probably because he shouldn't have said these things to the press), the take rate for the manual M5 was only about 15-20 percent, and BMW expects that to decline. So for the M5/M6 brothers, it'll be auto-only moving forward. It makes sense.
What does Biermann have to say about the M3? "The M3 needs to have a stick shift. It will always have a stick shift." That's clear enough.
Another source at BMW told us that the M3 and the M4 are the same car. Under the skin, mechanically, they're twins. So if the M3 is definitely getting a stick, there's no argument that the development costs are going to somehow prevent it from finding its way into the M4.
Case closed. The M4 will get three pedals and a knob that lets you choose the gears. Everything else is just hot air.