But there's an unfortunate catch.
The Mini brand gained major props with the enthusiast community because every single model in its lineup was available with a manual transmission. But for the past year or so, you haven't been able to order a Mini with a stick shift in the United States because the company had to suspend sales while calibration testing was completed. But starting early next year, the manual transmission is finally coming back to the Mini lineup, and there's to be much rejoicing.
"Starting early February 2020, customers will be able to resume ordering [two-door and four-door] Mini Hardtop and Mini Convertible models equipped with manual transmissions from March 2020 production," spokesman Andrew Cutler told Car and Driver. Cutler added that manual availability for the Clubman and Countryman will begin in July.
While the manual has been delayed, the only transmission options have been the eight-speed automatic and the new seven-speed dual-clutch found in the Countryman and Clubman. As many as 45% of US buyers opt for the manual on the Cooper S, which has the highest take rate in the lineup. Cutler told CarBuzz that the take rate for the Countryman and Clubman is much lower, which is why the new JCW models only come with an automatic.
But even though not all Mini models can be had with a manual, keeping them in the lineup is still very important for the brand. "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," said Cutler, who explained that being "fun to drive" is their most important reason for buying a Mini. "We are going to continue to ensure that we've got manuals when and where possible."
Even after Mini brings back its manuals, the company can no longer claim it is the only manufacturer to offer its entire lineup with three pedals. Yes, every model in the lineup can be had with a manual, but ironically, the high-performance variants will omit this option. JCW variants of the Countryman and Clubman as well as the new Cooper GP are now automatic-only to deal with the additional horsepower for 2020.