The head of BMW M says the adoption of a “brand new strategy” at the firm’s high-performance division means the manual gearbox will live on in the next-generation M2, M3 and M4.

Speaking to CarAdvice, BMW M CEO Markus Flasch said the manual cog-swapper was no longer be seen as the entry-level transmission.

“The manual stick shift is not an entry proposition any more. It used to be the entry transmission, then on top of that you’d have the automatic or a sequential gearbox or whatever,” he said.

"Today, it’s different. Today the standard is the automatic and the manual is for the enthusiast. A manual isn’t faster on the racetrack. There are some advantages, such as weight, but in the overall package, not really. It’s something that adds character. And it’s something our customers love.”

It's worth noting, of course, the main rivals of the upcoming M3 and M4 – such as the Mercedes-AMG C63 S and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – aren’t currently offered in stick-shift form.

Flasch went on to tell the publication more about the M division’s fresh strategy.

“This year, we brought a brand new BMW M strategy through the BMW board. Part of this strategy is that we’ll increase our share in this high-performance and performance segment, and there will be more special models directly derived from customer-based cars, on a bigger scale in future,” he revealed.

That final point, as CarAdvice points out, is similar to the approach Porsche has taken with its 911, offering manual versions of some of its hottest variants.

“Typically, I don’t like to talk about brands but what really sets us apart is our heritage. And there’s probably only one company in the world with a similar thrilling heritage like we have and that’s Porsche.

"When you see what our community brings forward – the classic cars and the race cars – this is what sets M apart,” he said.