2021 BMW M4 with manual transmission at the BMW Performance Center

All hail! The brand-new 2021 BMW G82 M4 is available in a manual transmission. In “base” form, the all-new M4 uses a 3.0 liter S58 in-line 6 turbocharged six cylinder cranking out an impressive 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. If you want an M4 Competition with the 503 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, you are only gonna get it with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Motoring enthusiasts have long been drunk wanting more power for cars, along with the battle cry that a true sports car has to have a manual transmission.

Now the die-hard enthusiast has to choose – more power and torque, or manual transmission. Which one is truly more important to the enthusiast? The automatic only BMW M4 Competition does 0-60 in 3.8 versus the manual transmission M4 0-60 in 4.1. Furthermore, $2,900 for 30 more hp/73lb-ft of torque plus an 8 speed Steptronic transmission just may be BMW’s best ever bargain. Or is it?

A Trip To The BMW Performance Center

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BMW was kind enough to invite us to drive the all-new G82 M4 manual transmission at their Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As more and more manufacturers shy away from the effort and cost to produce manual transmission in cars, it is impressive to realize BMW is still willing to commit engineering and financial resources to sell manual transmission cars for enthusiasts.

BMW went big and bold with their styling for the all new 6th generation M3/M4. The new massive twin kidney grills that run from the edge of the hood to the bottom of the bumper make quite the statement. As I pulled our 2021 Black Sapphire Metallic G82 M4 into the parking lot at the hotel in Spartanburg, SC, two pilots who had just gotten there immediately came over to see the new car. Both of them thought the design was stunning and had a ton of questions while pouring all over the car. The new massive kidney grills seem more at home on the new M3/M4 and seem to fit better on an overall more aggressive styled M car.

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My second day with the 2021 G82 M4 manual transmission car was spent at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC just on the other side of the road from BMW’s Manufacturing facility which builds the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7. The Performance Center is a playground for the motorhead and includes a high speed track section, a skid pad, an autocross style course. And a lot more elevation changes than I would have expected. This is a great place to explore the capabilities of the all new M4 as it is so powerful and readily exceeds legal speed limits.

A Highly Configurable Sportscar

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Once I got all checked into the Performance Center, we met Mike Renner, one of BMW’s Professional Drivers who took us out on the track as we did a lead/follow through a section of the course. He then left us to get photos, video and drive the section as much as we wanted. I spent time changing different settings on the car and trying them out on different sections of the track. I don’t really think I’ve ever driven a car with adjustable responses to braking before. I didn’t find comfort braking to be of much use, though I did try it.

In fact, there is such a myriad of settings on the 2021 BMW M4, it does get overwhelming. Three settings each for the engine and chassis and two settings for the steering and brake. So I asked, Mike, their pro-driver, what the M School sets them to. He said for their driving school, they set M1 to be what they would use in the dry and M2 what they set them for in the wet. Good advice!

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I did use M1/M2 buttons quite a bit because each time I started the car, it would default to “Efficient” set up for the engine response which gave me the sensation of turbo lag on acceleration. Eve though I am sure it is programmed that way to help with the fuel economy. This lag was easily discarded once the engine was set to SPORT or SPORT PLUS. I found the power delivery to be more linear all the way up to its 7200 rpm redline compared to the previous generation F82 M4 which had a more abrupt power delivery.

Additionally, the new G82 M4 chassis seems to handle the power better than the outgoing model. What I mean by that is that the last generation M4 had more power than chassis while with the new G82, the power and the chassis seem to be more in balance. Further, the new G82 M4 front-end seems to have more bite or turn in. There are also wider front tires now – 275 vs 265 – and the G82 M4 now also has staggered wheels front/back with 19/20 inch optional and 18/19 inch standard.

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As far as acceleration goes, the new M4 just pulls and pulls, and pulls. Sometimes, if I got too aggressive with the launch, the car would limit the power to the rear to keep the traction. Once in second and then third gear, the shove in the back of the seat is impressive. The other impressive performance part of the M4 I drove was the $8,150 M Carbon Ceramics. They have great initial bite and never seemed to fade.

One of the complaints I have heard from BMW M2 owners with manual transmissions was that to deactivate auto throttle blipping you had to turn absolutely everything off.  All traction control aids and M Dynamic Modes off. I am happy to report though, the new G82 M4 six-speed Manual transmission, the throttle blipping can be individually deactivated. Simply hit the “SETUP” button on the center console and it pulls up a menu that will allow you to turn on or off the “Gear Shift Assistant”

Gorgeous Bucket Seats

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The test car also came with the optional $3,800 M Carbon Bucket Seats. Not only are they gorgeous, they also hold you great when doing performance driving. BMW has even made part of the cushion on the headrest removable if you wear a helmet and it gets in the way. Two small hex key bolts just under the cushion need to be removed. Though the side bolsters on the carbon buckets are adjustable, people of extremes of shapes may not enjoy the seats.

I also found the seats like to hold each leg in place because of the carbon fiber piece at the middle end of the seat. So if you like to cross your legs, or rather your passenger does you may not want to get them. But for me though, they were a perfect fit and would be a must order item.

A Sucker For Manuals

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As for which would I choose? I would go for the 6 speed manual just like this tester, add carbon bucket seats, the $900 M Drive Professional and call it a day. Though I found the G82 M4 Competition package is definitely more powerful and easier to launch, I really enjoy shifting my own gears and found it to be a pure delight, whether on the racetrack or a back country road.

Also, take a look at our video showcasing the new M Drift Analyzer feature:

AS TESTED $98,495

  • Base MSRP M4 Manual Transmission $71,800
  • Black Sapphire Metallic $550
  • Silverstone/Black Full Merino Leather $2,550
  • M Drive Professional $900
  • 19/20” M Double spoke style 826M wheels $1,300
  • M Carbon Ceramics $8,150
  • Shadowline Lights $300
  • M Carbon Bucket Seats $3,800
  • Carbon Fiber Trim $950
  • M Carbon Exterior Package $4,700
  • M Driver’s Package $2,500
  • Destination & Handling $995
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As an Editor and an Automobile Geek, it's my pleasure to share my knowledge about Automobiles and their various aspects that can impact our lives.

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