We knew this was coming, but like a surprise birthday party leaked a bit too soon, we’re still pleased to see it. The 2025 BMW Z4 M40i manual is likely the last stick-shift, non-M BMW we’ll ever get in America, but it’s more important than just the end of an era. It’s living, breathing proof that the BMW enthusiasts fell in love with is still alive somewhere deep in the bowels of the modern luxury brand machine.
This latest BMW roadster is clearly an endearing thing both to fans and to the people who made it. While it was being engineered, it earned the nickname of Handschalter, which in this context is essentially German for stick-shift, at least if my years of parsing German used-car classifieds are anything to go by. No alphanumeric designations or obfuscating codenames here, just heart-on-sleeve love for the manual transmission. It’s hard not to love dedication like that.
You might be wondering what’s so special about an apparent parts-bin car, since the Toyota GR Supra is basically a Z4 Coupe that you’ve been able to buy with a ZF S6 six-speed manual transmission for well over a year now. Well, beyond the manual transmission, the stick-equipped Z4 M40i is so much more than just a manual swap. Compared to the GR Supra, the BMW gets a unique shifter linkage – and that’s just the beginning.
The obvious hint of greater changes than just a transmission is the presence of staggered-diameter wheels. Measuring 19 inches up front and 20 inches out back, these differing-diameter wheels mark the first time something like this has been used on a non-M BMW, and the front- and rear-specific sizes should work together with other subtle tweaks to change the behavior of BMW’s roadster.
New hard parts include unique front and rear bump stops, reinforced front anti-roll bar mounting, and a final drive ratio of 3.46:1, up from 3.15:1 in the automatic car. Unsurprisingly, effective gear ratios are nearly identical to those in the manual GR Supra, with a minute difference coming down to a 0.1-inch difference in overall tire diameter. However, new calibration for the rear dampers, electric power steering, traction control, and electronically-variable limited-slip rear differential should imbue the manual Z4 with a slightly different character than its automatic counterpart, some perks for choosing to row your own gears.
Speaking of perks: If you like green, the manual Z4 M40i has you covered, with both San Remo Green Metallic and satin Frozen Deep Green Metallic on the menu just for this special trim. Oh, and going further to keep the internet happy, you can pair either green paint job with a Cognac interior that features model-specific black door cards. Hey, green over tan is a classic combination.
The mere existence of the Z4 M40i manual should make you happy, because it means that deep inside BMW, someone understands that a great performance car isn’t just about numbers. Even if the 382-horsepower manual Z4 M40i boasts a claimed zero-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, it seems to acknowledge that a great performance car’s about the driving experience, and all the little tweaks and optimizations to make a car feel more intuitive, more confident, more alive.
Even better? This isn’t some limited-batch special. Sure, the manual transmission and all its tweaks costs $3,500 more than a Z4 M40i with an automatic, but anyone who wants one can order it. Expect the Handschalter to hit showrooms this Spring, right in time for drop-top weather. Sure, you could get a Porsche 718 Boxster for similar money, but the Z4 M40i manual makes an outstanding case for itself.
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