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.
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.
More From Cars.com:
- Who Makes the Mini Cooper?
- Mini Gives a Shift: Manuals Return to Lineup After Hiatus
- Oxford Is Affordable and Now Open to All (for 2020 Mini Hardtop and Countryman Buyers, at Least)
- Cars.com 2020 American-Made Index: What About the Least American Cars?
- Mini Countryman: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.