Update on 9-3-2015 by Miles Branman: We reached out to BMW to confirm whether its online configurator was accurate in excluding manual transmissions from the options list of its 2016 228i, 328i, and 428i models. A spokesperson for the automaker has informed us that these vehicles will, in fact, still be offered with manual transmissions.
Say it ain’t so, BMW!
Bavarian Motor Works is evidently yielding to poor sales figures for its manual transmission-equipped models and has pulled the standard option from three 2016 models, according to the German automaker’s online car configurator.
The 2016 BMW 228i, 328i, and 428i appear to only be available with ZF eight-speed automatic transmissions. Of course, that leaves the higher-output 235i, 340i, and 435i versions available with a six-speed manual, but each of those variants are heavier (and more expensive) than their turbocharged four-cylinder counterparts.
Of course, BMW isn’t the only automaker to remove the row-your-own-gears option from its model range, but it’s especially hard to see a brand that prides itself on the best driving experience cutting out such a great gearbox.
Advanced automatic gearboxes will continue to improve over time, with near-instant shifts in a lighter package, but the engagement of driving a manual, especially when you aren’t concerned about the quickest lap time on a track, will be sorely missed.
One bright spot is that BMW’s 2016 M3 and M4 can still be had with a manual, though recent news that BMW’s M division will be trimming the fat on manual-equipped models in the near future puts those cars’ standard gearboxes on notice as well.
Among its competitors, BMW still offers the most models with manual options, with Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Audi all limiting their manual gearbox vehicles to a tiny handful. However, it looks as though in five years, the enthusiast community will be lucky if there’s a single performance sedan or coupe available with a no-cost manual transmission.