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It’s too late for the BMW Z4 manual

News broke a few days ago – the BMW Z4 manual is coming, and sure enough, the inbox soon became inundated with questions. “Mike, do you know if it’ll be limited?” “How long will they make it?” “Is it worth it?” “Does it feel like a convertible Supra?” I’m happy to help, but I think…


News broke a few days ago – the BMW Z4 manual is coming, and sure enough, the inbox soon became inundated with questions.

“Mike, do you know if it’ll be limited?”

“How long will they make it?”

“Is it worth it?”

“Does it feel like a convertible Supra?”

I’m happy to help, but I think the overall theme for this iteration of the Z is too little, too late.

When will the BMW Z4 Manual arrive, and will it be limited?

The BMW Z4 is not as sporty as a Porsche Boxster.

Funny fact – you used to be able to get a Z4 with a manual transmission (and a four-cylinder engine only) if your ZIP code was on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Nobody bought it, and they stopped selling it. BMW never even released an M3/M4 manual model over there.

This new Z4 M40i manual will start production in Q1 of 2024, and you should be able to order one with relative ease, as BMW is not limiting production.

BMW sold 1,453 Z4s so far in 2023. No one is knocking down the door for these. The only issue you might have is allocation. How many slots does each dealer receive for a Z4 in general is probably not many, nor do I think you’ll be able to find one randomly on the lot.

Does selecting the manual change anything else?

Photo: BMW

Of the two, the Supra is a sportier drive. But BMW is giving you a few upgrades that will only be available on the Z4 manual that should close the gap.

  • A new chassis setup with 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels at the rear (autos get 19s all around)
  • An active differential, though I’m not sure what difference this one has compared to an automatic Z4, which has an “M Performance Differential”.
  • Stiffer anti-roll bars
  • Revised steering and adaptive damping
  • Only available on the M40i – no four-cylinder

BMW is saying that these adjustments will result in a larger range between Comfort and Sport settings. It can’t hurt, because the Z4 as it sits could definitely use more chassis mojo.

How long will they make the BMW Z4 manual?


The BMW Z4 is scheduled to end production in March of 2026, giving you pretty much two years to snag a manual. Both it and the Supra are built in Austria by Magna Steyr (they also make the G Wagon, among many other things).

Will there be another Z4? Probably not. It doesn’t sell well, and BMW already has M products for halo cars. BMW enticed Toyota with the Supra’s production in exchange for hydrogen technology. Now that the deal is done, Toyota probably has no need for another Supra unless they build it themselves. By the way – Toyota is fresh out of inline-sixes.

Remember where the Z4 came from – the Z3. That car was cheaper than comparable BMWs because it rode on an older chassis, and even the original Z3 M used the E36’s engine, not the S54. But old parts are no longer an option.

Does the BMW Z4 Manual feel like a Supra, and why is BMW adding the manual now?

The Z4 is a difficult car to justify over a Porsche, unless you take price into consideration. Photo: BMW

Like Toyota, a new transmission is a way to inject a little excitement into a product that has been on sale for quite some time. Giving everyone everything at once isn’t the best marketing strategy for sports cars.

The transmission is made by ZF, and though it’s mechanically very close to the Supra’s, BMW has adjusted it themselves and probably made it worse. I digress.

I also find it odd that a company which admits they don’t care nor want the manual around anymore is adding one to the Z4 anyway. It’s probably taken very little work to bolt one in, considering how few they are likely to sell.

Does this mean BMW will put manuals in cars like the M240i?

I doubt it. The Z4 was already “designed” for one from the start because of the Supra’s help. The M3 and M4 were launched immediately with it, so why wait to put one in cars like the M240 or M340i? Especially since the G20 3 Series already had its LCI.

I’d be happy to be incorrect about this.

Is it worth it?

It’s sad that the Z4 won’t last. Photo: BMW

No, although I do think it’s worth it over a Supra because of the better interior and drop top.

Building a fully loaded Z4 will cost around $73,000, and it’s unlikely they give you a discount for selecting the manual (they do not in the M2). This puts the Z4 in a funny sort of no-man’s-land.

Audi’s TT is gone. The Mercedes SLK is long gone. Would now be a good time to mention the Porsche 718 Boxster? To get the Z4’s level of power, you must opt for the GTS model, which starts at $98,950. Come on, it’s a Porsche – you’re at least at $110k, and it’s easy to go much higher. That’s a significant difference from a fully-loaded Z4. In fact, you’d have to opt for the base Boxster with no options to come near a Z4 M40i’s base price. At least all the Boxsters come with manuals.

If BMW wanted something truly special, that shooting brake concept would have been great. But it’s not to be.

So, rejoice if you’d like a Z4 with a stick, surely this is the last chance you’ll have to buy one. But I wouldn’t.

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