Mini Announces New Manual Transmission Driving School

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague
mini announces new manual transmission driving school

“Save the manuals” has transcended simple meme status and has grown into a mantra for many enthusiasts desperate to hold onto the mechanical engagement that comes from shifting one’s own gears. Electric vehicles and general laziness have led to a sharp decline in the number of cars offered with manual transmissions in the U.S., but some automakers are dedicated to keeping them alive. Mini is doing its part with a new manual transmission driving school. 

Mini nixed the manual in its catalog due to supply chain constraints but recently announced that it would bring the option back for 2023. The automaker will use parent company BMW’s Performance Center in Thermal, California for the classes, and says that the school is open to any drivers “looking for the opportunity to learn to drive manual in an engaging and safe atmosphere.”

BMW offers several classes and events at its tracks in California and Spartanburg, South Carolina, including teen driver school, performance driving classes, and a higher-speed M driving class that includes seat time in an M4 GTS. Mini courses were added in 2016, and the new program focuses on the basics of operating a manual transmission. The curriculum includes time learning about finding the friction point, smooth starts and stops, acceleration, and vehicle controls. Drivers get a test at the end of the course to assess learning and knowledge. 

[Image: Mini]

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9 of 21 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 08, 2022

    I'm not sure what the point is, except to sell stick-shift Minis.

    I learned some Fortran in college, but teaching it to anyone today would be useless.

    • Stuki Moi Stuki Moi on Nov 08, 2022

      Lots and lots of very valuable Fortran code out there. Also, lots of people who end up leaning it, or at least portions of it, on the job; since so few are being taught it formally anymore. Kind of like manuals: Within it's small, but far from nonexisting nor unimportant, niche; there exists no better; nor perhaps even reasonable; substitute. I suppose you could get at the same end result in any other similarly close-to-the-metal language. But it wouldn't look as natural to domain specialists in math.

      More scary to some: The same could still be said about Cobol. Just with the domain being general business processes. Cobol is clunky, verbose and non elegant. But that's largely becasue so are real world business processes; as well as those in position to design/decree them.

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Nov 08, 2022

    I'm proud of my hard-won manual driving skills. It was hard to learn, and it feels like there's value to it.

    However, manual shift transmissions are obsolete. Automatica are competent. CVTs are better. Hybrids are even better. And EVs just don't need to shift at all, because the mismatch between the ICE and the road has been factored our of the car.

    So I will stay proud of being the kind of guy who can master archaic machinery when needed, should that ever become necessary in the future. I sold my manual and automatic cars long ago -- so I will by happy driving my CVT, my hybrid, and my EV. Er, well, my EV is the favorite hands-down - I'm kinda done with the other two cars.

    • See 2 previous
    • Luke42 Luke42 on Nov 11, 2022

      Learning to drive a manual transmission is easy.

      Learning to drive a manual transmission well is a skill that must be built.

      Building a skill this way feels virtuous, even though manual transmissions have been made obsolete by step-shift automatic transmissions, CVTs, hybrids, and EVs. Many people feel that virtuous feeling and assume it's the skill itself that's virtuous -- but the virtue comes with being the kind of person who is willing and able to learn new skills, rather than the skill itself. You can see this tension in a lot of the comments on blogs like this one.

      Also, you seem to be out of date with the state of technology on American farms. GPS-driven self-driving combines have been in the field for close to a decade.

      This is what a MY2022 farm tractors looks like: John Deere's fully autonomous tractor - YouTube

      And some history: How Automated Guidance Changed Farming | Successful Farming (

      But I'm just repeating what farmers tell me. (I live in a small city in flyover country.) Farm kids today are the children of farm-managers, rather than farm-workers.

  • Slavuta Slavuta on Nov 09, 2022

    I trained 6 people to drive stick. And developed a system when they start driving in 15 minutes. After that - hills, and other fun things

    • VoGhost VoGhost on Nov 10, 2022

      Please furnish your address. I am sending you three teenagers.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic 3SpeedAutomatic on Nov 10, 2022

    I learned the stick shift on my sister’s Karmann Ghia and brother’s Mercury Cougar. My first two cars were manuals , then moved to automatics as time progressed.

    Several years back, I was interested in picking up a cheap Fiat 500 as a second car. I mentioned to my sisters and brother of teaching my nephews and nieces how to drive a stick shift. Not one seemed interested in the least.