It looks like Mini's lover affair with the manual transmissions has come to an end. Back in May, Mini boss Stephanie Wurst told Autocar that the brand was 99% sure that the manual transmission was dead for the brand's next generation of vehicles. However, a source within Mini later told The Drive that 99% isn't 100% and that there was an internal push to keep the manual alive, at least for select high-performance models. Now it turns out that the last internal push may have failed, as Wurst told Top Gear on Tuesday that the new Mini Cooper won't have a third pedal.
“We won’t have a manual, unfortunately,” Wurst told Top Gear at the reveal of the new Mini Cooper.
Prior to Wurst's comments, there was hope that the manual would stick around for at least one more generation. The customer take rate for the current Mini John Cooper Works with a manual transmission is 45%, which is certainly enough to create a business case for the future car. And, as our source told us back in June, adding a manual transmission to the Mini, even for just a few performance models, isn't too difficult. "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."
The lack of a manual won't stop Mini from racing, as motorsport is a big part of its heritage, but this new chapter of racing might look a bit different, according to Wurst. Mini isn't just looking into its more familiar racing series' but also electric racing with the help of Charlie Cooper, the grandson of John Cooper. The specific electric racing series the brand wants to enter is still unknown, though.
Mini ditching manuals feels weird, as driver connection has always been the brand's calling card. However, with the full-time switch to electrification on the horizon, it does make sense, at least from the outside looking in. It's just a shame we won't be getting yet another JCW model—or an even hotter GP variant—with a manual transmission. Or will we?
A Mini USA spokesperson confirmed Wurst's comments to The Drive, further adding that "the current generation models that feature manuals are expected to be produced up through to the end of February 2024."
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