BMW M is working on a new generation of the M3, and the related M4, and the head of the BMW go-fast division has confirmed that a manual transmission will be offered on the cars—something that has been widely speculated for over a year.

Speaking with Road & Track during November's Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW M chief Markus Flasch said a manual transmission will be offered on both the M3 and M4, though only with rear-wheel drive.

Yes, AWD versions of both cars are coming, Flasch confirmed, but in this case an automatic will be the only transmission. The AWD system will be the same rear-biased M xDrive configuration that debuted in the latest M5. It has a function that allows the driver to select a RWD mode at the push of a button.

2021 BMW M4 Convertible spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2021 BMW M4 Convertible spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

"There's no reason for changing a winning system and pretty much carrying over what we know from the M5," Flasch said in his interview with Road & Track.

Under the hood will sit the same 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 code-named the S58 that debuted in the 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M. Rumor has it the engine will be detuned in models with the manual transmission, whereas automatic-equipped cars, i.e. those with the extra traction of all-wheel-drive, should have something closer to 473 hp. More powerful Competition, CS and CSL models are also in the pipeline. The current M3 has just 425 hp in standard guise and 453 hp in the limited-edition CS model.

Timing for the M4 isn't clear but Flasch revealed that the M3 will arrive toward the end of 2020, meaning we'll likely see it as a 2021 model. Interestingly, both cars are expected to adopt the huge grille design of the Concept 4 that BMW unveiled in September at the Frankfurt International Motor Show.

BMW Concept 4

BMW Concept 4