BMW Waves Goodbye to the 3 Series' Manual Transmission

It will be replaced by an 'easier to use' eight-speed automatic transmission.

via BMW

BMW announced Tuesday that it will drop the manual transmission from its gas-powered platforms in the newest 3 Series lineup, replacing the traditional six-speed gearbox with an "easier to use" eight-speed automatic transmission.

A new generation 3 Series dubbed the G20 platform debuted at the Paris Motor Show this week with a surprising announcement; the ultimate driving machine will be lacking a manual transmission on most models. The 318d and 320d, both of which have a 2.0-liter diesel powerplant, will be the only models to receive the three-pedal treatment. However, customers opting for an all-wheel-drive diesel will also forego the manual. The 320i, 330i, 330d, and M340i will all come standard with BMW's eight-speed "sport automatic" transmission.

"The six-speed manual gearbox fitted as standard in the BMW 318d and BMW 320d models has optimized acoustic characteristics and is also easier to use," said BMW in a statement. "All other model variants of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan are equipped with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard."

A BMW spokesperson confirmed to CNet that it has made this decision on a global scale, meaning that other markets won't be receiving the manual transmission on any gasoline-powered BMWs.

The current generation 3 Series and 4 Series models offer a manual transmission option in several trims, meaning that the G20's decision to drop the manual gearbox in its non-diesel powerplant is the first of its kind and a major change to BMW's marketing strategy, attempting to sell the convenience aspect of a vehicle rather than the driving experience.

BMW's decision aligns with another German luxury manufacturers' similar rulings made earlier this year, joining Audi in the plan to rid the world of the car's best friend in the U.S. market. Mercedes-Benz employs a similar strategy in the C-class, a direct competitor to the BMW 3-series.

Customers looking to purchase the newest generation BMW 3 Series, sans manual transmission, can look to showrooms in early 2019.

Auf wiedersehen, third pedal. Until we meet again.

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