Whenever we see a BMW 3-Series with a manual transmission in it, we give a sigh of relief and smile. The car gods must be pleased. But not with the 2019 BMW 3-Series. Turns out BMW will not build one for the states with a do-it-yourself shifter, instead opting for an automatic slushbox that thumbs its nose at skills development. Read it and weep, driving enthusiasts and Bimmerphiles. 

2019 bmw 3series driving
Giving up the ultimate form of control over a Bimmer is truly sad. 

The irony is that the new 3 is supposed to be better to drive with vast improvements in steering and handling that were less than superb in the last generation. And the fact that the 3 was one of the few sports sedans where you could still get a lovely stick shift was a reason why driving enthusiasts gravitated to it. Perhaps they will lose some of that loyal following now, and they'll have to go to Cadillac to get a sports sedan with a stick (ATS/ATS-V). Even that one may not last long.

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2019 bmw 3series road rear

BMW will only offer the 8-speed automatic and sport auto transmission with launch control only in the U.S. Europe will still get the manual option since drivers there buy them in much greater proportions. Apparently, someone still cares about maximizing driving skills. Sure, automatics are faster, but they're certainly not more fun. Though it's a common practice now to ditch automatics, we just weren't ready for BMW to do it to their iconic four-door sporty car. Ugh. Just ugh.

2019 bmw 3series front wheel

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. Power is up, body stiffness has increased, aerodynamics have been improved, the track is wider, and brakes and steering have been beefed up. But somehow we still don't care that much because our beloved manual shifter is nowhere to be seen. 

2019 bmw 3series interior
That third pedal is conspicuously missing. That's a dead pedal on the left, not a clutch.

Two trims will start the lineup, the 330i with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 255 hp and 295 lb-ft (7 more horses and 37 more lb-ft over 2018), and the M340i with its turbocharged inline six with 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. That's 60 more horses than 2018. Wow. 

2019 bmw 3series shifter
We'd give up all the fancy trim for a slick 6-speed manual. It's the end of an era.

With myriad improvements throughout the 3-Series' repertoire, we're sure it'll be great to drive. The fact that you can't shift your own gears and maximize the driving fun means those who want the car for looks and speed will surely enjoy it. Those who want to remain purists will have to look elsewhere, probably to a sports car that sacrifices the 3's practicality. Or just look for a great used one with a manual. It truly is a changing of the guard and not necessarily for the better.

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