Mini ‘Hasn’t Ruled Out’ Manual Transmission in Next-Gen Cooper Despite Reports
A source inside Mini tells us a manual transmission hasn’t been ruled out for future models, even if it’s offered in extremely limited quantities.
Last month, Mini announced a special "1to6" manual model that was widely reported to be its last three-pedal car ever. But those reports seemingly jumped the gun, as sources inside Mini indicate its manual transmissions haven't been totally ruled out for the next-generation Cooper. That said, they won't be as widely available as before, and that's if Mini carries on using them—which our source says is still technically possible on the car's new platform.
The manual Mini misconception stems from an Autocar interview with Stefanie Wurst, head of the Mini brand, who said she was "99% sure" that future models won't be available with three pedals. The outlet further reported Mini would switch exclusively to a ZF eight-speed transaxle for its remainder of ICE models (like the next-gen 2025 Mini Cooper hardtop). But 99% isn't 100%, and a source inside Mini indicated to us there's a decent chance we see more manual Minis, especially in this country.
"We obviously are lobbying hard to retain manuals where we can. It isn't finalized 100%. We are cautiously optimistic to see what can be done," one source said. "You know, 45% take rate on JCW manuals [in the U.S.] is a strong proof point to take and say, there’s a business case, even for a limited run."
"I haven’t been given advanced information on the next-gen internal combustion hardtops and convertibles yet, but has it been ruled out completely? No," they continued. "But again, I think it’s a matter of, 'Can the business case work? Will the business case work?' I mean, it doesn’t take much to punch a hole in the floor of a car and put a gearbox in it. But until we get more product info we won’t know for sure."
Mini has taken cues from customers before, turning its celebrated EV convertible concept into a limited production model for select markets. Our source pointed out how it was built purely as a design exercise, but the ultra-positive reaction from fans convinced Mini that it was worth doing a small production run. It's possible that the same could happen if enough people buy Mini manuals now and advocate for more down the line.
The source also suggested that as electrification fully takes hold in the next ten years, Mini could keep some of that analog engagement by doing what others have discussed: faking a manual box. Specifically, they noted Toyota's proposal for a manual-mimicking EV, as well as how some CVTs are programmed to simulate geared transmissions, saying that Mini is closely watching how this technology progresses.
"At the end of the day, for the true manual enthusiast, it’s not [looking] as bright as you would hope. The door may be closed, but it’s not latched yet."
It's clear the manual experience still matters to Mini, even if the experience's authenticity isn't of foremost importance. In all likelihood, that'll manifest in lucrative limited-run models like the 1to6 or future JCWs. Those of us that can't afford them may be left with imitation manuals—or the choice to take our money elsewhere.
After all, there'll still be driver-oriented manual cars like the Mazda MX-5 and Ford Mustang for many years to come. If Mini decides it doesn't want to cater to us, even with just special performance trims, that's its loss... And it sounds like Mini knows it.
Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: email@example.com