You know the three-pedal Z4 is hard to find when press images are rarer than hen's teeth, prompting us to fire up BMW's German configurator and virtually build the roadster with the six-speed manual. It's an especially rare car Down Under where a grand total of two people bought the sporty convertible with a stick shift in two years.
It was only available on the base sDrive20i version at a no-cost option compared to the eight-speed automatic transmission, which going forward will be the only way to go should you want the entry-level Z4. BMW Australia is discontinuing the do-it-yourself gearbox after abysmal sales in its two years on the market during which the manual version was outsold by the much more expensive Honda NSX (three cars) and apparently the ancient Mercedes R63 AMG (two cars). Yes, we're just as surprised as you are the fast family hauler was still being sold as new.
With the proliferation of electric vehicles, the writing is on the wall for the manual gearbox. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer non-sports cars have a clutch pedal as only the entry-level models from mainstream brands allow drivers to row their own gears the old-fashioned way. Manuals are few and far between in the performance car segment as well, and while there are some exceptions (Porsche springs to mind), the manual is a dying breed.
BMW is playing its part when it comes to saving the manual, offering the latest M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe with a clutch pedal. That being said, the M4 Convertible is all-wheel-drive- and automatic-only, which will likely be the same case with the hotly anticipated M3 Touring arriving late this year or early 2022. The recently unveiled 2 Series Coupe is also an automatic-only affair, although that should change with the M2 as it's widely believed it will be available with a manual.
Getting back to the Aussie-spec Z4 with a manual, it accounted for only 0.54 percent of all Z4s sold by BMW since early 2019. The RWD-only sDrive20i with the manual is two tenths of a second slower to 62 mph (100 km/h) than the automatic but has a slightly higher top speed. Already removed from the company's Australian configurator, the manual-equipped Z4 is still available in European markets, but who knows for how long.