2022 MINI Cooper Hardtop Makes Driving a Manual Transmission More Fun

Mini Cooper

The MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop is reason enough to learn to drive a manual transmission.

It was an early Saturday morning in the fall of 1998 when my mom declared it was time for me to learn how to drive a stick shift. Despite my grumbling about how this was an unnecessary skill I would never use, she insisted.

Now, if I had been born in a later generation, maybe I would have learned to drive a manual at Mini Cooper’s new drive school. However, that was not the case, so I donned my Birkenstocks, wide-leg jeans, and baby doll t-shirt for a day of learning in the high school parking lot. A few hours and 100 eye rolls later, I had mastered the art of driving a standard.

Related: The All-Electric Mini Cooper S E Is Made for Busy City Living

Mini Cooper 2Dr

Front end view of the Mini Cooper. Photo: Chastity Velasquez

Fast forward to 2022, where the 90’s attire is back in style and I’m behind the wheel of the stylish Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop. If it wasn’t for my mother demanding me to learn to drive a standard, I would not have had the joy of driving this vehicle on a road trip from Fort Worth to Amarillo.

The drive from Fort Worth to the Texas Panhandle is anything but scenic. It can be a boring trek with little to look at besides a few one-stoplight towns. But every time I had to slow down and manually shift gears in these no-name towns, it made the trip a little more enjoyable.

Related: 2017 Mini Cooper S Clubman Review: For Those NOT keeping Up With the Kardashians

Mini Cooper

Not sure which view is better. Palo Duro Canyon or the Mini Cooper! Photo: Chastity Velasquez

Look cool in front of your kids

I loaded up the car, opened up the moonroof, and we hit the road for our spring break adventure. As I pulled onto the highway and shifted gears like a pro, my son turned off his tablet, nodded his head, and said “Wow, Mom. You didn’t even give me whiplash!”

In case you do not have a 10-year-old son, that’s the best kind of compliment you are going to get. So I responded with a “Thanks, buddy,” and pushed my Birkenstocks down on the gas.

I also looked cool because of the hands-free multimedia system. With a touch of a button, I was able to enable the voice control system. From there I was able to tell MINI where I needed to go and have the directions pop up on the navigation screen. While connected to my Apple CarPlay, I was able to tell the car what music I wanted to play and who to call all while keeping my hands on the wheel. No fumbling around and looking like a goofball because I didn’t know how anything worked.

Related: USED: Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 Review: Gas Electric Hybrid, Yes, But Also, Fun and Full of Personality

Mini Cooper Interior

The gorgeous command center. Photo: Chastity Velasquez

The Features That Make the 2022 MINI Hardtop So Fun to Drive

  • Panoramic Moonroof: The natural light and expansive views of the Texas sky make you want to drive the car all day
  • Three driving modes: Sport, Mid, Green
  • Stylish 8.8” Touchscreen
  • 6-speed Manual Transmission
  • Fewer distractions: When driving a stick shift, you are too focused on shifting gears and being in sync with the car to get distracted by everything else going on around you.

Related: Chilli Red and Fun for the Whole Family: Meet the 2020 Mini Cooper Countryman JCW

Who This Car Is For

  • Singles, couples
  • Those looking for great gas mileage
  • People who love driving a manual transmission
  • Drivers who want a sporty driving experience
  • Someone who want a fun and stylish ride

What This Car Costs

  • The base model price starts at $32,900
  • Iconic package: Adds heated seats, panoramic moonroof, wireless charging, navigation, Apple CarPlay, performance summer tires, dynamic digital cluster for $7,000
  • Price of the model we drove: $40,750
Mini Cooper

MINI logo puddle lights. Photo: Chastity Velasquez

What We Loved

  • MINI logo puddle lights when you unlock the vehicle
  • Wireless phone charger (tucked into the middle console)
  • Heated seats
  • Cargo cover
  • USB and AUX ports
  • Panoramic moonroof
  • 2.0-liter MINI TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine
  • 236 lb-ft torque
Interior View Of The Mini Cooper

Interior view of the 2022 Mini Cooper. Photo: Chastity Velasquez

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

The cup holders are very close to the gear shifter. So anything taller than a small cup of coffee may get in the way when shifting gears. However, there is a cup holder behind the middle armrest, which is easy to use for storing larger cups.

Also, there are no USB ports in the back seat. Anyone needing to charge the tablets or phones will need to use a long charger cord to reach the port in the front console. The car seats 4, with plenty of legroom in the back for children. The front seats are bolstered. Plus, I was able to adjust the thigh support to bring out the seat another inch because this vehicle has the sport feature. Extending the seat was more comfortable on the long road trip.

While the cargo space isn’t expansive, there is room to store one large suitcase or two weekender bags. It’s plenty of space to hold the luggage for those short getaways!

Driving the Mini John Cooper Works was truly a fun experience. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the feeling of shifting gears and having more control of the car. The mix of premium features and a smooth transmission was a heck of a lot better than the car I learned to drive 24 years ago!

I’m looking forward to the day I can teach my son how to drive a 6-speed, regardless of how many hours and eye-rolls it takes!

Disclosure: The Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop 2DR was provided for this review; all opinions are my own.

Chastity is the creator of cowboyslifeblog.com, a guide for affordable family travel destinations, amazing recipes and fun outdoor adventures.... More about Chastity Velasquez