While its manual take rate has plummeted over the years as the 3 Series started catering to a wider luxury audience (increasingly crap traffic everywhere certainly doesn’t help), it was still one of the few luxury sport sedans that would allow you to row your own. Answering in the affirmative to “did you get the manual?” was still good enough to elicit a satisfied head nod from car enthusiasts — and an apathetic “oh” if you didn’t. Personally, I’m still disappointed every time I see an automatic shifter inside a 3 Series of any vintage.
And yet, it was confirmed to us this morning that “[g]lobally, the 2019 330i and M340i are only available with the eight-speed automatic transmission with sport auto being optional. In the U.S. we get the Sport automatic standard for both models with included launch control.”
Smaller engines can be had with a manual in Europe, but we don’t get those. BMW has said there are no plans to make one available for the bigger engines we do get, but that could also mean “we have no plans that we would share at this time.” Seems doubtful, though.
BMW has also made it clear, as most German engineers are apt to do, that the automatic offers superior acceleration and performance over the manual. To them, it’s like suggesting to your local transit authority that the new light rail line be powered by steam. They cannot fathom why you’d use an inferior technology.
Many of us know the answer to that, but apparently not many are buying new cars with manual transmissions. Not that we’d really be able to if we wanted to at this point. With the 3 Series joining the Audi A4 as automatic-only in 2019, that leaves the Cadillac ATS/ATS-V as the only other car in this segment that allows you to change gears for yourself. You can see the full 2018 manual cars list here.
Oh well, there’s always the used-car classifieds.