Recently we reported that Head of MINI Stefanie Wurst commented the brand was “99% sure” they 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. We also know that when the next generation F66 MINI (the last ICE MINI ever) begins production in March, it will not offer a manual. But knowing MINI (and especially MINI USA) like we do, something doesn’t seem quite right to us.

We know the forthcoming (ICE) F66 is mechanically identical to the F56 so continuing building cars with a manual isn’t difficult. We also know that over 40% of F56 JCW hardtops sold in the US are equipped with the manual transmission. And those customers are some of the most important to MINI USA as ambassadors and enthusiasts. 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. 

MINI manual transmission

Why would MINI kill the manual if there’s still ICE vehicles to put it in? 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, there would appear to be no real downside. 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? While we have no inside knowledge on the topic, we believe that the manual will make a comeback. Perhaps as a JCW only option or perhaps even for a series of US only special editions. Either way we believe that we will see a manual in a MINI after March 2024 when the F56 goes out of production.

Let us know what you think in the comments. Would you buy a JCW or special edition MINI with manual or is the time for rowing your own gears over?