BMW’s sales figures suggest there is still a market for passenger cars with manual gearboxes in Australia, albeit a small one.
Unlike many luxury brands, and even some mainstream ones, which have discontinued the manual option from their products here in response to minuscule demand, you can still opt to shift your own cogs in several BMWs.
While all 1 Series models, and all non-M Division 2 Series, 3 Series and 4 Series derivatives come standard with a ZF eight-speed automatic with torque converter, each can be ordered with a six-speed manual ‘box at no cost from the factory. As can the M2/M3/M4.
Hearteningly for performance ‘purists’, people are buying them, according the BMW Australia head of product and market planning Shawn Ticehurst — even though modern autos are generally both faster and more frugal.
According to BMW Australia, a little under 10 per cent of 1 Series and 2 Series models are sold with a manual, while about 1-2 per cent of 3 Series/4 Series are purchased with the same. Performance versions form the majority, naturally.
Ok, not big numbers like you see in much of Europe, but it’s still a few hundred cars annually. As well as appealing to traditionalists enamoured by BMW’s racing heritage, these vehicles also become hot property on the used market.
None of BMW’s SUV models, which are its new core models, can be had with a manual.
Meanwhile, BMW subsidiary Mini also does a small but noticeable business with manual gearboxes, though at roughly 10 per cent take up this year, it’s greatly reduced to what it was a few years ago.