For a while, you couldn’t buy a Mini with a manual transmission because the automaker took a hiatus from importing them. Mini estimated the hiatus to last into the beginning of this year. Now, it appears to have finally lifted with the introduction 2021 MINI Cooper S Sidewalk Edition.
Mini has a history of launching special editions that really just amount to trim packages and the new Cooper S Sidewalk Edition seems no different. The new Sidewalk will be available as a convertible and will have two paint options, “Deep Laguna Metallic” or “MINI Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic,” according to a press release. There will also be a patterned soft-top roof, which I actually sort of dig.
Additionally, the Sidewalk Edition has stuff like brushed aluminum door sills, two-tone wheels, and a unique interior. That’s all fine and great, but the only interior feature I care about is that six-speed gear lever and the clutch pedal! Finally! Currently, this is the only manual Mini you can buy, reports Motor Authority. We’ve reached out to Mini for confirmation.
One of my gripes with the Mini JCW two-door I drove recently was that it needed a manual. Otherwise, it was a very fun car. With the six-speed, I have no reason to believe this Sidewalk Edition convertible will be any less fun. It’ll have a turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Nobody will win drag races in this thing, but you’ll have a smile on your face regardless.
The car will go on sale in April in the United States with an MSRP of $38,400. The seven-speed DCT is available for an additional $1,500. And then there’s the $850 destination and handling fee. You now have my permission to laugh. Please, do fill this comment section with praise for the Mazda Miata.
I’ll stick to my guns and say the two-door Minis are fun cars. They have deceptively roomy front seats and actually do have a decent amount of cargo space.
Mini is set to bring its manual offerings back starting with March 2020 production, according to Car and Driver, so this lines up. Buyers will be able to get all two- and four-door Mini hardtops and convertibles, as well as the JCW hardtop, with a manual.
Update 1:15 p.m. EST: A Mini spokesperson responded to elaborate, “There is a little confusion around this topic. We had a temporarily hold on manuals for MY 2020. So if you go on MINIUSA.com and try to build/spec a car you are building a MY 2020 car. The site is not updated yet to build MY 2021 vehicles but will be soon. Once it is you can build a MY 2021 with a manual. You can also go to a dealer and order a MY 2021 with a manual in the meantime. The MINI Sidewalk Edition is a MY 2021. The manual transmission returns in the MY 2021 vehicles. First the hardtops and convertibles. Then the Countryman and Clubman later this year.”
I asked if the Sidewalk Edition is the first of those MY 2021 cars because I wanted to know if it was correct for us to call it “currently the only Mini available with a manual.”
The spokesperson wrote back, “No any hardtops and convertibles in March Production will have manuals.”