Throughout the course of BMW’s history, it has had many cars that have reveled in the spotlight of automotive greatness. Whether that was the incredible M1, silly quick M2, magnificent E90/92 M3, or the awe-inspiring V10 M5/M6 of the mid-2000s, there has been no shortage of pulse-quickening cars bearing the mark of the Bavarian automaker. But, quietly, one of the longest-running models in BMW’s recent history is a car that almost no one pays attention to or even knows exists. But the 2024 BMW M40i is not only a car worth mentioning, it is a car worth getting excited about… really excited.

Built concurrently with the resurrected Toyota Supra beginning in 2018, the latest G29 variant of the Z4 is the closest thing to an entry-level exotic as you’ll find this side of a Lotus. Though at first glance, it may seem disappointing to find that this Z4 uses the same motor as many other models in the Bimmer lineup, that frown should quickly turn upside down when you realize that the B58 is one hell of a motor. A turbocharged 3.0-liter dual-overhead cam 24-valve inline-six-cylinder engine, the Z4 M40i’s motor uses some serious hot rod tech like forged steel for its crankshaft and connecting rods. Variable valve timing and a twin-scroll turbo help the B58 rev to 7,000 rpm and pump out a seamless 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

But the even bigger news is where that copious amount of power heads off to once it leaves the crankshaft. For the first time in a long time, the Z4 gets an honest-to-goodness ZF three-pedal six-speed manual transmission. That’s right, just like its cousin, the Toyota Supra, the Z4 M40i gets to flex its fun muscles and allows the driver to take a little control back. Although the Bimmer and Supra use the same ZF unit, the Z4 does get its own model-specific linkage and shifter for that authentic Bavarian feel.

While no official times have been run with the 2024 M40i manual transmission-equipped car yet, Car and Driver was able to run one with an eight-speed automatic transmission and clocked it from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.5 seconds, 0-100 mph in a silly fast 8.8 seconds, and through the quarter mile in just 12.0 seconds flat at 116 mph. Save your hate mail because we know that inevitably someone is going to try to be a buzzkill and say that the auto can shift much quicker than a human, and thus, the manual will be the slower of the two cars. And to that, we will say two things: you are right, and we don’t care.

With a base MSRP of about $66,300, and add to that the $3,500 extra for the performance package (which includes the extra pedal), and the 2024 BMW M40i is a relative bargain in the sports car world. This is a premium two-seat roadster that has the chops to run neck and neck with a Mustang, carve up corners like a Corvette convertible, and all the while, let the wind blow through your hair as you row through each of its six glorious forward gears. For the first time in a long time, and possibly ever in the life of this model, the Z4 M40i truly feels like the Ultimate Driving Machine.

Photos: BMW

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