Want to drive stick but can’t? Mini will teach you. Learn on the company’s clutch before buying your own manual transmission vehicle.
Mini is big on cars that are fun to drive — like big go-karts, but with more style, flair, and luxury. Mini is also aware that while a manual transmission is a big part of driving fun, there are fewer and fewer drivers who know how to use one. So, it’s going to teach drivers by opening the Mini Manual Driving School.
Mini Manual Driving School Marks Manual Mini Return
You might be wondering what cars drivers will use at the school. Mini announced earlier this year that it had to stop putting stick shifts in its cars for a large part of the 2022 model year. The stick shift Mini was also canceled for a bit back in 2019.
The latest Mini stick shortage was a supply chain issue, a knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine. For the 2023 model year, Mini has solved the problem and found some more gearboxes. Now, the company wants to use them.
Rah Mahtani, Brand Communications Manager, Mini USA:
“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. The course is not only informative but also a fun and challenging learning experience for a new generation of MINI drivers that they will remember forever.”
Driving School for Old & New
The course is designed to bring in a new generation of drivers who haven’t driven with three pedals before. Mini says it’s also great to help drivers who have been stuck for years behind an automatic transmission and want to get back to shift shape.
Mini’s curriculum for the course looks at vehicle controls. Finding the bite point of the clutch, working on smooth starts and stops, and other manual gearshift necessities. At the end of the course, drivers will get a timed run on a circuit to see how they’ve done.
The course will be run through parent BMW’s Performance Center West. Located on the grounds of the Thermal Club near Palm Springs, the school mixes classroom space and plenty of asphalt.
BMW has put more than 500,000 drivers through its two U.S. Performance Center locations since it first opened in 1999. Mini’s first driving program started in 2016.
A manual transmission used to be the standard gearbox in every single new vehicle, but the availability of the stick has dropped precipitously in the last few years. Now even sports cars like the Chevrolet Corvette are automatic-only. If you want a manual, you’ll need to pick from just a couple of dozen vehicles — a mix of economy cars and performance hardware.
Mini will offer a stick on just a single car for 2023. The two-door Hardtop model is the only one with the option, but at least Mini will have the six-speed on the Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works cars so you can pick from mild and affordable to wild and a bit more upmarket.
Mini Wants to Boost Manual Demand
Mini mentions that as fewer and fewer cars offer a manual, drivers have fewer chances to drive one. That pushes down demand for the cars even more quickly.
Giving drivers the chance to get comfortable using both feet and both hands could help boost demand. It will for sure give those drivers a new connection to Mini, and a new appreciation for building an attachment to their car.
No word yet on when the classes will start or how much they will cost. Stay tuned to the Mini Driving Experience site to find out when the classes are added.
Mini also offers a track school and a stunt driving school, if you want some more Mini performance lessons. The classes are open to Mini owners or anyone else who wants to take one.