If you're not sure how to drive a stick, this is your chance to learn.
Now, this is truly unusual. Mini, as we know by now, is a little on the quirkier side of the car-brand-seriousness spectrum. It's also one of the few manufacturers to consistently offer a manual transmission, even though there were rumors that the option might be axed. The best of the lot is the Mini John Cooper Works Hatch in two-door guise.
Mini USA is launching a new Mini Manual Driving School at the BMW Performance Center in Thermal, CA. Mini says the manual has "fallen by the wayside for many drivers."
So, any and all drivers looking to "learn to drive manual in an engaging and safe atmosphere" can now attend the school, which Mini says it opened to expand the accessibility and fun of driving stick.
Unfortunately, you'll need to book a flight if you're not local to California. The BMW Performance Center is the only location for the driving school. Still, participants will receive hands-on instruction on track, as well as a classroom portion.
Mini acknowledges that many new drivers may have never learned to drive stick, as auto-only cars became more prevalent in the early 2000s. With that in mind, the course will "welcomes a new generation of manual drivers while allowing others to sharpen their skills after years of driving automatic."
In other words, portions of the course will cater specifically to new manual drivers.
The curriculum is designed to build confidence and comfort using a manual.
The Cooper's gearbox isn't bad to learn with, either. The shift action is a bit rubbery, but the gates and clutch action are clearly defined. Drivers will learn to find the clutch's friction point, start and stop smoothly, and more.
Ultimately, students will navigate a timed course to demonstrate their newfound skillset. Strangely, Mini doesn't mention if it'll teach drivers how to heel-toe, but we're sure it will, as rev-matching is integral to stick shift driving.
''For over a decade, consumers have ranked Mini as the most fun to drive brand in America, which is exactly why we brought back the manual transmission,'' said Rah Mahtani, Brand Communications Manager, Mini USA.