The 2019 BMW 3-Series Nails The Manual Transmission’s Coffin Shut

#savethemanuals is #over

BMW pulled the wraps off the 2019 3-Series today at the Paris Auto Show. Internally code named the G20, the new 3 is decidedly not like the 90’s Sentra-based Infiniti of the same name, but not for the obvious reasons. The Infiniti G20 was actually offered with a manual transmission while the BMW G20 3-Series is not. Yes, you read that right.

Fabian Kirchbauer Photography
Photo from press.bmwgroup.com

BMW (along with Audi, Mercedes, Lamborghini, Ferrari – basically every car maker) cites a lower take-rate for the three-pedal variants as reason enough to stop offering them. It makes sense from a production point of view, but I can’t help feel the sting of the knife in my back as BMW tells me to my face that I’d rather be in traffic with an automatic. And while that might be true, I still “tough it out” in my manually-shifted Civic EX on a daily basis. Manual cars may not be selling, but they’re damn sure a lot more fun.

BMW’s new 3-Series will come to our shores with two engines, though I can’t tell you anything about them because honestly I don’t care anymore. The 2019 330i and M340i might as well be powered by a treadmill turned by turkeys developing 1,000 horsepower. BMW’s many transgressions against me as of late have turned me off to really engaging with the brand like I used to (where I once aspired to own a BMW, I find an Audi S3 will do me good). Not offering a silky-smooth inline six was one thing, but to join the ranks of other modern car makers, my beloved S3’s maker included, is borderline betrayal.

Fabian Kirchbauer Photography
That doesn’t look like a manual shifter. It doesn’t even look like a shifter. Also, tangent, why one button for each drive mode? Wouldn’t a Drive Mode button that cycles through the options be less clutter? That IS why BMW is using this “joystick” electronic shifter, right? Right?              Photo from press.bmwgroup.com

I suppose if you really must get yourself a 3-Series, you should know that early drives of the G20 generation seem more positive than it’s predecessor’s. The transmission choices will be an eight-speed automatic and an optional version of the same but with something called “sport auto”. BMW claims the transmissions allow for faster acceleration, performance, and probably refinement over their manual counterparts, but they’ve also made it conveniently difficult to test that claim (spoiler: they’re probably right).

BMW argues from the position that automatic transmissions make everything better than a manual – faster shifts, more comfort, refinement, and adaptability. I’m all for the forward march of technology and all, but as in the case of my daily-driver Civic, I’d gladly give up being quicker for having more fun.

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