- manual transmissions have been unavailable on minis sold in north america for several months, but they're coming back soon on some models (but not jcw or all-wheel-drive models).
- the bmw brand has many stick-shift loyalists among its customers, especially buyers of the cooper hardtop s, which has a 45 percent take rate for the six-speed manual.
- many dealers still have manuals in their inventory if you can't wait for the official return in march 2020.
while some automakers have been dropping manual transmissions like they were the subject of a scandal, mini has resolutely stuck by the stick—until this past july, when it suspended availability of its six-speed manual. but now it's bringing back the row-it-yourself option.
"starting early february 2020, customers will be able to resume ordering [two- and four-door] mini hardtop and convertible models equipped with manual transmissions from march 2020 production," spokesman andrew cutler told car and driver. the clubman and countryman will follow in july.
the delay, specific to north america, was necessitated by updates to the fuel-delivery system, made in order to enhance efficiency and increase injection pressure. that required "additional testing and optimization," leaving in the interim the seven-speed dct and eight-speed automatic as the only transmissions offered.
as many as 45 percent of u.s. buyers typically opt for the six-speed on the two-door cooper s hardtop, which has the highest stick-shift take rate in mini's lineup. some dealers stocked up on sticks in advance and still have inventory.
"there is a segment of the customer base that prefers driving with a manual transmission, so we do want to maintain that for the component of our customers who expect that," assured cutler, who said that customers cite "fun to drive" as their number-one criterion for buying a mini. "we are going to continue to ensure that we've got manuals when and where possible."
even after the option returns to some models, those equipped with all-wheel drive will no longer be offered with a manual. nor will the john cooper works performance models (including the new jcw gp), which cutler says would have required a beefier gearbox to cope with the increased output.