I used to love Mini. The cars were cute and small and zippy, and you could get every single one of them with a manual transmission — even the Countryman crossover. But the company's latest cars are kind of… big. And bloated. And for the 2020 model year, the manual gearboxes went away. But thankfully, Mini is rectifying that last bit. That's right, the stick-shifts are back.
Mini on Thursday confirmed that manual transmissions will be standard equipment on most of its 2021 models. So far, this includes the Mini Cooper and Cooper S Hardtop (in two- and four-door specs), the Cooper Convertible and the John Cooper Works Hardtop. The new Sidewalk Edition comes with a stick, too.
For the larger Clubman and Countryman models, Mini says those will get manual transmissions, too, and that the details "will be confirmed once 2021 model year information for these models is release later this spring," according to a statement.
Now, the exceptions. Mini says the 2021 John Cooper Works GP will only be offered with an eight-speed automatic, and the 2021 John Cooper Works Convertible comes exclusively with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. What's more, Mini says its Clubman and Countryman models equipped with the company's All4 all-wheel-drive system will be auto-only, too.
It also goes without saying that the fully electric Mini Cooper SE is excluded from this list, since it, you know, doesn't have a transmission.
Still, this news calls for much rejoicing. These cars might still be a little too big for my tastes — or for a company called Mini — but at least now, a major fun-to-drive factor is back.