The BMW M division creates the German brand's high-performance products, but the market for them is changing. In the future, expect to find automatic transmissions with torque converters in the high-performance offerings. These details come from Dirk Hacker, Head of Development at BMW M, in an interview with Top Gear.
"The double clutch, from BMW M’s point of view these days, it’s gone," Hacker said. "It's now manual or automatic, and automatic electrified for the future."
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He said the company had this discussion when developing the next-gen M5. The team decided to use a traditional automatic with a torque converter because it was more comfortable for everyday driving.
"The automatic is better performing than the double clutch. In the M4 CSL it's faster shifting and on the other side, we also use this automatic in the new M4 GTR race car," Hacker also explained.
Note that Hacker is only discussing plans for the M division, not for the whole company. Other BMWs could still DCTs in the future.
He also commented on the future of models with manual gearboxes from the division, and it's a short timeline. "If you take a look around, you will see the future for manual gearbox suppliers will decrease. So I'm not sure we will have the possibility in the future – but in the future means six, seven years in forecast," Hacker said.
The statements about the future of the manual transmission in M models is roughly in line with previous comments from the division's boss Frank van Meel. "The manual is, unfortunately, not so widespread anymore. It's more in the segments of the M2 and M3, and the M4. And for those cars, we continue offering the manual, and those cars will run for a long time until the end of this decade," he said in 2022.
There are reports that BMW has a manual gearbox for the BMW Z4 M40i under consideration. Toyota now offers one for the mechanically similar Supra, so there shouldn't be major engineering challenges to make the transmission fit.
The M division recently installed a six-speed manual in the 3.0 CSL, which has a limited run of just 50 units. It pays tribute to the model with the same name from the 1970s and has a retro-inspired body. Under the hood, there's a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 553 horsepower and 404 pound-feet.