When the current BMW M5 wraps up its production run this autumn, it'll mark the end of more than just the current generation of the Bavarian super sedan. It'll also be the last time you'll be able to buy an M5 with a manual gearbox. The news was probably inevitable, but that doesn't make it any less sad.
The tragic word comes via BMW M GmbH boss Frank van Meel, who told Car and Driver that the stick shift would be banished from the M5 and M6 models after this year. "Demand had dropped to zero," he said.
The manual gearbox was developed specifically for the F10-generation M5—specifically, for U.S. and Canadian markets, the only places the three-pedal option was offered. Everyone else on planet Earth was stuck with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which, to be honest, was kind of better 90 percent of the time.
Ditching the stick doesn't just make sense from a fiscal standpoint—it's the smart choice from a technological perspective, too. Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, and Audi have long since switched over to only automatic transmissions for their high-performance (if they ever offered them at all), in part because new automatics can shift faster and offer more gears to choose from. This in turn, makes their host vehicles faster on the track, smoother on the street, and more fuel-efficient all around...not that many people dropping $100K on a super-sedan give a damn how much they spend on gas.
This isn't the first time BMW has tried to kill off the M5's manual, for what it's worth. When the shrieking V10-powered E60 M5 launched in 2005, it did so solely with a hard-hitting seven-speed sequential manual gearbox. In a counterintuitive twist, however, that computer-controlled transmission proved exceedingly popular in most markets, but left American buyers clamoring for the option to shift for themselves. BMW quickly MacGyvered the E39 M5's six-speed manual into the car, to great success—roughly half of U.S. buyers wound up choosing to row their own way through the gears.
It's not all sour news coming from M HQ. Van Meel says the manual will stick around on the M2, M3 and M4 models, as the take rate for the old-school gearbox remain high on those models. If your heart is set on a Bimmer with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and a stick shift, though, we suggest placing your order ASAP—or becoming well-acquainted with BMW's CPO Search.