Here's the rest of the story on manual transmissions - the part you left out in your Jan. 10 story 'Sticks hit the skids.'
Manuals continue to elicit strong demand from BMW buyers, demand that shows no sign of slackening. Fully one-third of 3-series buyers and about two-thirds of Z3 buyers choose a manual. A remarkable one-third of 540i buyers does the same. And while we offer only a stick with the M5 (and other new M models), we're still having trouble meeting demand.
For many enthusiasts, manual shifting remains a joy no automatic can replicate. There's feedback: the 'snick-snick' of the lever, the bite of the clutch. There's control - to pick the right gear at exactly the right time.
There's even a challenge: Matching revs on a 3-2 downshift entering a tight corner may not be easy, but it's sure rewarding when you get it right. No wonder our research finds manual drivers more likely to enjoy driving (and to seek out fun and excitement in general).
Are manual drivers really less satisfied, then, as AutoPacific asserts? Actually, in 1998, AutoPacific found overall satisfaction 'very good' or 'excellent' for 98 percent of manual 3-series owners vs. a still impressive 94 percent for automatic 3 owners. The 1999 Strategic Vision research reaches a similar conclusion.
Further, we see no clear evidence that our manual owners lose out at resale. The January 2000 Kelley Blue Book deducts $550 for a 1996 3 series with manual transmission vs. a $975 automatic option price in 1996. All things considered, it's a wash.
For manufacturers catering to everyday customers, the manual transmission may, indeed, be on the outs. At BMW, though, the choice of a stick remains very much alive in our plans and appreciated by our owners.
BMW of North America Inc.
Woodcliff Lake, N.J.