A major problem for the survival of the manual transmission is the dwindling number of people who know how to drive stick. Mini is trying to do something about that.
The automaker is launching a dedicated manual driving school at the BMW West Coast driving school, run by its parent brand at its Performance Center in Thermal, California. The school give manual newbies or drivers looking for a refresh can practice the basics, Mini explained in a press release.
One of two BMW Performance Centers in the United States (the other is in Greenville, South Carolina, near BMW’s factory in Greer), the California facility is situated at the Thermal Club private racetrack and typically offers more performance-oriented classes to help customers get the most out of their M cars and, since 2016, Mini models.
Mini’s manual driving school focuses on more basic skills, such as finding the friction point of the clutch pedal and practicing smooth starts. After instruction, participants will be sent out on a timed course to see how much knowledge they retained, Mini said.
Mini recently has added back manual transmissions for some models after a short hiatus. It had pulled the 6-speed manual from the options list in the spring, citing supply chain issues, and had promised to bring the manual back at a later date. In October Mini said a manual-transmission option would be back for the 2023 model year and could be ordered beginning in November.
For now, the manual will only be available with the three-door Hardtop body style, in Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works grades. Mini hasn’t discussed adding the manual to other models in its lineup. For now, the rest of the lineup sticks with an 8-speed automatic transmission that’s also optional on three-door Hardtop models.
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