it becomes obvious that the M3's engineers traded some driver involvement in return for more speed."
I don't think it's just BMW, but the trend in general. All of these newer cars have some sort of non-traditional manual gearboxes that shift faster, but it takes the fun and driving experience from the driver. As the technology era keep on advancing, we will only continue to see cars with more gadgets in them, making the statement more apparent.
OT, I wonder how close of a 50/50 weight distribution ratio is the new M3 is.