The percentage of cars bought with a manual transmission has been declining for decades. The United States led the world in the shift to slushboxes, but the world has been following, and over half of all cars worldwide are now built with automatics. In the United States, most models aren’t even offered with a manual anymore, and even when a manual is offered it can be hard to find a car with one on dealer lots.
In this context, BMW has been an exception. While the majority of BMWs are sold with automatics, BMW dealers continue to stock stick shift cars. (Try to find a Cadillac or Mercedes dealer with a stick in stock.) This is one of the reasons enthusiasts love the marque.
But even BMW is moving away from manuals. A conventional manual was only belatedly offered in the current M5 super sedan. Initially only the widely reviled SMG automated manual was available. (I’ve never driven an SMG car myself, so I can’t comment.) The redesigned X5 is auto-only.
And now we have the 2008 5-Series, for which I just input pricing into TrueDelta’s database. A manual transmission remains available with all three engines, and even on the wagon. (On a side note, with the 535xi BMW is once again offering a powerful wagon in the U.S., after a few years’ hiatus.) But an automatic transmission is now a no-cost option on all 5-Series models. Can other BMW models be far behind?