Mini Hardtop 2-Door: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?

2021 Mini Hardtop 2-Door

Most significant changes: Six-speed manual transmission is available again; John Cooper Works GP model returns with 301 horsepower

Price change: $1,000 less on Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works models; unchanged on base Oxford Edition, electric SE and destination fee

On sale: Mid-summer

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? 2021, especially if you want a manual transmission. An automatic transmission will cost more on most 2021 models.

Mini has decided after all that offering a manual transmission on the two-door, front-wheel-drive Hardtop is still a good idea, so a six-speed manual is back in the lineup for 2021.

Related: 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop Review: Electric, Fun and Priced for Its Modest Range

Mini nearly sparked open rebellion among loyalists when it discontinued the manual transmission for 2020, so now the six-speed manual is standard in Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works Hardtops and available at no cost on the Oxford Edition. An automatic transmission is now an option on the Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works Hardtop. 

The other big news for 2021 is the return of the performance John Cooper Works GP model, which packs a 301-horsepower, twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The third generation of the GP comes only with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and global production will be limited to 3,000 units. With a top speed of 164 mph, Mini says the John Cooper Works GP is its fastest car ever. That kind of speed isn’t cheap, though: The base price is $45,750 (with $850 destination charge).

The Oxford Edition value model starts at $20,600, same as 2020, but now buyers have a choice of the six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic for the same price. For 2021, the Oxford Edition will be available to all customers; previously, Mini limited it to active and recently discharged or retired military and college students or recent graduates.

Elsewhere on the price front, the base is $1,000 less on the Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works models, but that’s because the manual transmission is now standard and the automatic optional. The starting price of $30,750 is unchanged for the SE battery-electric model, which arrived for 2020.

Oxford Edition and Cooper models come with a 134-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and standard stick shift. A dual-clutch seven-speed automatic is optional.

The Cooper S comes with a 189-horsepower, turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder and standard manual transmission; a seven-speed automatic with a sport shift mode is optional. The John Cooper Works has a fortified version of the 2.0-liter with 228 horsepower and a standard six-speed manual. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional.

The all-electric SE has an electric motor that generates 181 horsepower, a single-speed transmission and an EPA-estimated range of 110 miles.

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