The head of BMW M recently came out with a hint (you pay attention to those when they’re from auto execs) that manual transmissions might not make it into all M cars in the future. He told Autocar “from a technical standpoint, the future doesn’t look bright for manual gearboxes. The DCT and auto ’boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption.”
Naturally if M cars (BMWs that cater to the enthusiast) drop the beloved manual then we certainly can’t expect normal BMWs to carry the torch much longer. But what if anything does that mean for MINIs?
MINI (along with Porsche) has for years had the highest percentages of manual buyers. However gone are the years that it was 50/50. Today we’re told that manuals make up far less than 20% of the MINIs purchased in the US – MINIs largest market. What happens to that when the auto under the hood is upgraded to the Aisin 8 speed that we’ll see in the Clubman and Countryman Cooper S? Will that accelerate the decline?
If history is any guide, yes. However there are a couple of reasons we believe the manual isn’t going away any time soon – especially on the smaller MINIs. For one the core MINI enthusiasts resoundingly buy manuals. And these ambassadors of the brand are a key demographic that the company wants to hold onto. Secondly the small sporty car market still has plenty of manual transmission options available (unlike the sports car segment). A manual is expected on the offer sheet and will be for years to come.
Rest easy MF readers. We believe the manual is safe at MINI for the time being.