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.
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.
BMW will only offer the 8-speed automatic and
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.
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.
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.