At a recent press briefing for European journalists Head of MINI Stefanie Wurst commented that the brand was “99% sure” that it wouldn’t offer manual options on future products. To go along with this announcement MINI’s latest limited edition JCW 1to6 is being quietly billed as the last MINI ever to offer a manual transmission. But could this really be true? MINI has yet to officially and definitely say the manual is dead. What is the real story here?
Over 40% of F56 JCW hardtops sold in the US are equipped with the manual transmission. Clearly on some models and with some buyers it’s a very popular choice. It’s also a huge part of the brand’s history and slots well into the MINI’s core philosophy of creating cars that are engaging the drive.
Why would MINI eliminate manuals despite the fact that the F66 (the replacement of for the F56) is mechanically identical and could easily carry over the current Getrag 6 speed? It’s likely about simplifying drivetrains components and cutting costs within manufacturing. And for Europe (where CO2 targets are much more stringent) the manual is slightly dirtier.
However in markets like US, where CO2 targets don’t have the same impact, why not continue to offer it? To that point MINI USA has been silent on what’s next for the manual after March 2023 when the F56 ceases production and the F66 replaces it a few months later. Could it mean MINI USA is working to bring the manual back to the F66?
With a take rate north of 40% for the JCW F56 it’s not far fetched. After all that’s the buyer that is not only core to the brand but one that isn’t afraid to spend money. We’ve seen other brands like Porsche and BMW M hold onto manuals in some cases solely because of the US market. Could that be happening to MINI?
Let us know what you think in the comments. Should MINI keep offering the manual on the F66 or focus solely on the faster, slightly more efficient automatic?