Manuals return to the Mini lineup for 2021

2020 Minis were automatic-only due to certification difficulties

The 2021 Mini Cooper will offer a manual transmission again, after the 2020 model had to go without a stick shift due to problems certifying that powertrain. It had been hoped that the emissions issue would be straightened out in only a few months, but as it turned out, Mini had to go through the entire 2020 model year with its cars offering only two pedals. The 2020 Cooper and Cooper S models got a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the John Cooper Works variants and the ALL4 versions of the Clubman and the Countryman got an eight-speed unit.

For 2021, the standard Mini Cooper with the 134-hp 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder will offer a six-speed manual in the hardtop, four-door, and convertible body styles. The 2021 Mini Cooper S, with its 189-hp 2.0-liter turbo four, also will come standard with the six-speed stick in hardtop, four-door, and convertible form. The John Cooper Works hardtop, with its 228-hp 2.0L turbo, shares in the manual-transmission goodness, but the JCW convertible remains automatic-only, with the seven-speed DCT.

The 2021 301-hp John Cooper Works GP hardtop will be eight-speed automatic only.

For the 2021 Clubman and the Countryman, the picture is still murky. It's likely that the JCW Clubman and JCW Countryman, which also get the 301-hp engine, will continue to be offered only with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, although the less-powerful versions could get a stick shift again. Mini says, "Manual transmission offerings will be confirmed once 2021 model year information for these models is released later this spring."

Given the persona Mini has cultivated, this brand seems like one that should continue to offer stick shifts for as long as possible. Mini spokesman Andrew Cutler claims that the Mini hardtop generally has had the highest take rate for manuals in the U.S. market, with 45% buyers of the (2019-model) John Cooper Works version opting to row their own gears.

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