Driving a manual transmission vehicle is a unique and captivating experience, but it's a skill that is becoming increasingly rare. To better understand consumer sentiment towards manual transmissions, Mini USA recently conducted a consumer survey.
The survey, commissioned by Engine's Caravan, found that 63 percent of respondents agreed that learning how to drive a manual transmission is a rite of passage and an important life skill. Additionally, the top characteristic that respondents associated with a manual transmission vehicle was that it was "fun to drive."
Gallery: Mini Manual Transmission Models
However, despite this, only 24 percent of respondents indicated that they currently own a manual transmission vehicle. Nearly half of all Gen Z respondents (49 percent) and 42 percent of all women reported not knowing how to drive a manual transmission vehicle. Despite this, 53 percent of all respondents indicated that they would be willing to learn. Interestingly, 67 percent of respondents aged 18-34 expressed the most interest in learning to drive a manual transmission vehicle.
In response to these findings, Mini USA is expanding its manual transmission offerings starting March 1, 2023. Four additional Mini models will be available with manual transmissions, including the Mini Cooper Convertible, Mini Cooper S Convertible, Mini Cooper 4-Door Hardtop, and Mini Cooper S 4-Door Hardtop. This brings the total number of Mini models offered with a manual transmission to seven in the US.
In an effort to encourage the next generation of manual drivers, Mini USA has partnered with the BMW Group Performance Center West in Thermal, CA, to launch the Mini Manual Driving School. Registration for the school is open as of February 8, 2023, with the course priced at $499.
The Mini Manual Driving School aims to provide drivers with the foundation necessary to build their comfort with manual transmissions, with a curriculum that covers vehicle controls, finding the friction point, practicing smooth starts and stops, acceleration, and more. At the conclusion of the course, participants will be tested on a timed course to assess their knowledge.