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Drew Dowdell

Oldsmoboi drives a Mini-Cooper in Pittsburgh

27 posts in this topic

Today I used my flexcar account to pick up a Mini-Cooper to run some errands.

This car has the 6-speed auto with manual mode and paddle shift.

I was impressed with the car's roominess and more than ample headroom, but looking up, one sees what appears to be gray colored grade school felt covering cardboard. Most of the other interior materials however seem to be very nice. Handling was very good, very sporty. Ride was comfortable and not harsh.

Now for the bad:

Close your eyes, start the car, don't touch anything. Just listen...... rev the engine a little. Yup, you've been transported back in time and are now riding in your grandmother's '92 Escort.

ALL.. and I mean every single one of the controls and indicators are in the wrong location.

Tach? Directly in front of you.... ya know... where the speedometer should be.

Speedometer? over to the right

gas gauge? inside the furthest lower right quadrent of the speedo

Window switches? at the bottom of the center stack, wide enough apart that you much use your index and pinky if you want to hit both at once.

Radio? In the speedometer.

Except for the volume dial.... it's about 5 inches down the center stack away from the rest of the radio controls.

Turn signal has NO feel at all and it always returns to center even if the turn signal is activated.

Now for the part I'm going to enjoy the most:

The transmission..... as I said earlier, this car had paddle shifters. In automatic mode the tranny shifted with a small bump between each gear. It also had the tenancy to hold a higher gear longer than one might if one was in a row-your-own. It did lug the engine on more than one occasion. But wait! The Paddle shift mode! Naturally, I couldn't resist trying the system out. The transmission was fairly responsive to my inputs. A 2-1 down shift was a bit clunky, but tolerable.

I got the Cooper up to highway speeds, left it in 6 and then floored it.

Can you guess what happened?

Go on.... I dare you.

Guess.

It DOWN SHIFTED!!! Not to 5th.... not even to 4th... no, when I threw the hammer down, the Cooper dropped from 6th to 3rd gear at 70mph even though I was in paddle shift, manual mode! Here I am in rush hour traffic.... stunned... STUNNED...... that this BMW built, supposedly premium vehicle had such a low rent, bean counter, cost cutting transmission program. How dare BMW think they are smarter than me when it comes to shifting my Cooper? Whatever gear is good for me is good for my car.... and that's the way I want it to be. How am I supposed to tow my boat up over the mountains with a transmission like this!? This one glaring flaw ruins any sporting pretensions it had.

Anyway.... the fun doesn't end there. I would expect, since BMW already rudely overrode my command, that they'd at least put the transmission back in the gear I selected after the need for extra power was over.... but no. No the Cooper stays in 3rd gear at 70mph until you put it back up to 6 where you had it in the first place.

My time with the Cooper was coming to an end and I had to take it back to it's parking spot. I left it in 6th as I entered downtown Pittsburgh and made my way through town. To my surprise when I looked down I found that the transmission had been down shifting for me. I was now in 3rd gear making my way through the city.

I parked the car. Our time together was short, however I was reasonably impressed with most of it's driving characteristics. I'm not sure I'd pay as much as what Mini is asking for one, but I wouldn't hesitate recommending one to a friend who doesn't mind:

1. Out of place switches and dials.

2. A high priced small car with a lower than average fuel efficiency.

3. A Mini-Cooper that shifts like a Buick.....except... not as smoothly.

Edited by Oldsmoboi
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You probably hit the "downshift" toggle button underneath the accelerator pedal. And since you said it had an auto, I'm assuming this is an '07, which means it gets 40 MPG on the highway. It was the old ones with the Brazilian Chrysler engines that got below average economy (like 36 or something).

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But...its made by BMW, so if you didn't enjoy it, you're not a real driver. Go back to your CTS, you car operator.

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You probably hit the "downshift" toggle button underneath the accelerator pedal. And since you said it had an auto, I'm assuming this is an '07, which means it gets 40 MPG on the highway. It was the old ones with the Brazilian Chrysler engines that got below average economy (like 36 or something).

Ah, I was unaware of the rating change. I'm not sure if it was an '07 or not however. This is a flexcar and it already has 5,000 miles on it.

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You probably hit the "downshift" toggle button underneath the accelerator pedal. And since you said it had an auto, I'm assuming this is an '07, which means it gets 40 MPG on the highway. It was the old ones with the Brazilian Chrysler engines that got below average economy (like 36 or something).

Is there a "downshift" toggle button for coasting into downtown also?

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Ah, I was unaware of the rating change. I'm not sure if it was an '07 or not however. This is a flexcar and it already has 5,000 miles on it.

Only the '07 and beyond (brand-new PSA French engine instead of the DCX Brazilian) Coopers have automatics available. And you're lucky. All the FlexCars around here are only Civic Hybrids, Elements, and Tacomas.

Edited by empowah
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Only the '07 and beyond (brand-new PSA French engine instead of the DCX Brazilian) Coopers have automatics available. And you're lucky. All the FlexCars around here are only Civic Hybrids, Elements, and Tacomas.

Ah.

We have Civic Hybrids, Yaris Sedans, Honda Odysseys, Tacomas, Mini-Coopers, and Toyota Solaras.

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You probably hit the "downshift" toggle button underneath the accelerator pedal. And since you said it had an auto, I'm assuming this is an '07, which means it gets 40 MPG on the highway. It was the old ones with the Brazilian Chrysler engines that got below average economy (like 36 or something).

Plus the fact you didn't mention if you actually slotted the tranny into "sport" mode. That plus activating manual shift mode is what gives you control over shift points. Paddle shifts work in both modes.

If you were in "normal" drive mode.....and used the paddle shifts.....it would operate as a normal automatic.....downshifting as you floor it, etc.

So....did you activate "sport" mode in the tranny? You didn't mention that aspect.....

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Try a manual next time. Better still, try a manual CooperS.

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Plus the fact you didn't mention if you actually slotted the tranny into "sport" mode. That plus activating manual shift mode is what gives you control over shift points. Paddle shifts work in both modes.

If you were in "normal" drive mode.....and used the paddle shifts.....it would operate as a normal automatic.....downshifting as you floor it, etc.

So....did you activate "sport" mode in the tranny? You didn't mention that aspect.....

Yes.... I actually wasn't aware that the paddle shifts would work in normal mode, so I only attempted it in sport.

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Another reason why "semi-manuals" suck... they always over-ride your imput.

Drive a Cooper S with the 6-speed manual and you'll love it.

Either get three pedals or just put it in drive, semi-autos suck.

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The tach & speedo being where they are is more sport-oriented. If you're autocrossing your cooper, you don't give a crap about your speedo. Some of the other controls did sound annoying, though.

Oh, and +1 for a real manual.

Edited by PurdueGuy
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The tach & speedo being where they are is more sport-oriented. If you're autocrossing your cooper, you don't give a crap about your speedo. Some of the other controls did sound annoying, though.

Oh, and +1 for a real manual.

It was just a flexcar rental.... they don't give ya much choice in transmissions.

As for the speedo... if it's not that important why is it the size of a dinner plate?

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It was just a flexcar rental.... they don't give ya much choice in transmissions.

As for the speedo... if it's not that important why is it the size of a dinner plate?

because it's retro.

Posted Image

not that that's a great reason for design characteristics of functional items...

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Ditto on the manual in an S thing. I can sympathize with what Carbiz says about 98% of the population wanting automatics, but I wouldn't even want a CTS in an automatic.

Chris

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Ditto on the manual in an S thing. I can sympathize with what Carbiz says about 98% of the population wanting automatics, but I wouldn't even want a CTS in an automatic.

Chris

As the owner of an automatic CTS, I have to disagree. The CTS's automatic is far more intelligent than the Cooper's. The CTS in sport mode, even without paddle shifters, seems to read your mind about holding a lower gear or shifting up. It will hold a gear all the way up to red-line and let you run there for quite a while before self preservation mode kicks in, calls you an idiot, and it upshifts.

All that said, this entire thread was directed at the normally BMW humping O.C. who was criticizing the rocker button manu-matic mode in the Enlcave... and just showing him that BMW does the same thing with the Cooper, only not as smoothly and not as smartly.

My favorite FlexCar is still Camino's Civic Hybrid. I've taken out a Toyota Solara Convertible once and it was a complete pile. If I take it again I'm bringing my camera and writing a review of that one. For one, the shifter is just plain idiotic just for the sake of being "modern". For two, the thing had more body flex and cowl shake than my 160k mile Cutlass Convertible.

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As the owner of an automatic CTS, I have to disagree. The CTS's automatic is far more intelligent than the Cooper's. The CTS in sport mode, even without paddle shifters, seems to read your mind about holding a lower gear or shifting up. It will hold a gear all the way up to red-line and let you run there for quite a while before self preservation mode kicks in, calls you an idiot, and it upshifts.

All that said, this entire thread was directed at the normally BMW humping O.C. who was criticizing the rocker button manu-matic mode in the Enlcave... and just showing him that BMW does the same thing with the Cooper, only not as smoothly and not as smartly.

My favorite FlexCar is still Camino's Civic Hybrid. I've taken out a Toyota Solara Convertible once and it was a complete pile. If I take it again I'm bringing my camera and writing a review of that one. For one, the shifter is just plain idiotic just for the sake of being "modern". For two, the thing had more body flex and cowl shake than my 160k mile Cutlass Convertible.

Keep in mind that the Solara convertible, for the most part, exists almost solely to compete with the decidedly second-rate (last-generation) Chrysler Sebring ragtop. Obviously, the target buyer in this market is not possessed of a need for crisp handling or a robust structure. Toyota, then, is merely giving the buyer what they want.

Meanwhile, now that Chrysler has managed to botch the Sebring so badly, Ford is enjoying a robust business in V6 Mustang convertible sales. And yet, people still buy the Solara convertible, because they've apparently been programmed without any "rational thought" subroutines in their brains.

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All that said, this entire thread was directed at the normally BMW humping O.C. who was criticizing the rocker button manu-matic mode in the Enlcave... and just showing him that BMW does the same thing with the Cooper, only not as smoothly and not as smartly.

Ha...you think you got me....

whatEVER

Whether the MINI does it or not I can't claim cause I've never driven a MINI auto.....but the 6-speed auto in the X5 most assuredly does NOT override your commands when in Sport mode using the manual shifter. That I can tell you.

The fact-of-the-matter is.....no matter if it's a MINI or an Enclave, if you are going to give the driver the option of "manual" control over the shifting of the automatic, it damn well better BE full manual control. Otherwise don't even bother.....

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It's fun to bring old threads back from the grave.

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Ha...you think you got me....

whatEVER

Whether the MINI does it or not I can't claim cause I've never driven a MINI auto.....but the 6-speed auto in the X5 most assuredly does NOT override your commands when in Sport mode using the manual shifter. That I can tell you.

The fact-of-the-matter is.....no matter if it's a MINI or an Enclave, if you are going to give the driver the option of "manual" control over the shifting of the automatic, it damn well better BE full manual control. Otherwise don't even bother.....

There are idiotguards in place in the Enclave for when Junior takes mommy's Enclave out to the movies and tries to drive the whole way in 1st gear. I don't blame GM for not wanting to have the warranty headaches.

but as has already been hashed out in this thread... the existence of the switch in the Enclave is not to make the 4800lb. SUV into a freeway ramp burner but to replace the 1,2,3,4,5 notches on the shift gate. Why do we still need a big lever to select gears that are electronically activated anyway. When they start autocrossing the Enclave on the Nürgburgring... then maybe you have an argument.

I've been arguing for the return of pushbutton transmission selectors for a while.... especially so after the remarkably stupid shifter placement in the new ChryslerBus vans.

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As the owner of an automatic CTS, I have to disagree. The CTS's automatic is far more intelligent than the Cooper's. The CTS in sport mode, even without paddle shifters, seems to read your mind about holding a lower gear or shifting up. It will hold a gear all the way up to red-line and let you run there for quite a while before self preservation mode kicks in, calls you an idiot, and it upshifts.

All that said, this entire thread was directed at the normally BMW humping O.C. who was criticizing the rocker button manu-matic mode in the Enlcave... and just showing him that BMW does the same thing with the Cooper, only not as smoothly and not as smartly.

My favorite FlexCar is still Camino's Civic Hybrid. I've taken out a Toyota Solara Convertible once and it was a complete pile. If I take it again I'm bringing my camera and writing a review of that one. For one, the shifter is just plain idiotic just for the sake of being "modern". For two, the thing had more body flex and cowl shake than my 160k mile Cutlass Convertible.

BTW, didn't mean to diss the CTS, which is one of my favourite vehicles. If the tranny is really that good I'll see if I can find my way behind the wheel of one to check it out!

Also, agree with you 100% about the Toyota-best use of the Solera ragtop is to be purchased by our military as a rolling target for artillary practice.

By the way, how is the CTS tranny in regular mode in the mountains or in really bad icy winter weather? IMHO this kind of driving seems to be the real test of an auto.

Chris

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By the way, how is the CTS tranny in regular mode in the mountains or in really bad icy winter weather? IMHO this kind of driving seems to be the real test of an auto.

Chris

I've never had a complaint about the CTS's transmission in either situation. In the mountains the transmission doesn't hunt... but I think this is more a factor of the 3.6 having a good powerband. Snow mode works decently.... the traction control gets a little spastic, but I programed one of the buttons on the dash to be a traction control disable. In snowy weather, I can't get out of my driveway <for which I can sell lift tickets> with the TCS on... but the same was true of my Cutlass... so it's not a RWD/FWD issue.

I use Dunlop Wintersport tires in the snowy months and the car feels almost AWDish.

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I've never had a complaint about the CTS's transmission in either situation. In the mountains the transmission doesn't hunt... but I think this is more a factor of the 3.6 having a good powerband. Snow mode works decently.... the traction control gets a little spastic, but I programed one of the buttons on the dash to be a traction control disable. In snowy weather, I can't get out of my driveway <for which I can sell lift tickets> with the TCS on... but the same was true of my Cutlass... so it's not a RWD/FWD issue.

I use Dunlop Wintersport tires in the snowy months and the car feels almost AWDish.

I'm amazed at how subtle the TC/SC is in the car in the default mode. Is yours like this?

On rainy streets around here (especially early in the rainy season when there's lots of grease on the road already) I can do quite nice almost powerslides around wet corners if I give it enough throttle before the TC/SC actually kicks in.....

Same thing happens on a straight line moderately aggressive start in first gear....in the wet, I can "light them up" for quite a bit before TC kicks in.

I've left the standard 18-inch Bridgestone Potenzas on the car.....so I'm sure as a dedicated high-performance tire they will be less effective in the wet......

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I think my TC is more aggressive than yours. I'm pretty sure GM backed the aggressiveness down after the '04 model year. I burned through the original Goodyears in about 10k miles at which point I switched over to snow tires for the season. The Dunlop Wintersports are rated just as good as Blizzaks but are a good bit cheaper. Around here, snow tires are a must.

I won't be into the Roadmaster wagon until after the primary snow season is over, so I won't have to deal with changing the tires over on that ever.

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I think my TC is more aggressive than yours. I'm pretty sure GM backed the aggressiveness down after the '04 model year. I burned through the original Goodyears in about 10k miles at which point I switched over to snow tires for the season. The Dunlop Wintersports are rated just as good as Blizzaks but are a good bit cheaper. Around here, snow tires are a must.

I won't be into the Roadmaster wagon until after the primary snow season is over, so I won't have to deal with changing the tires over on that ever.

33,000 miles on my original Bridgestone Potenzas....!!!!! (Of course by now I'm getting VERY close to needing new tires.)

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