I have been doing a lot of research on the Countryman Cooper S lately and plan to buy a 2013 sometime in the spring. But it really scares me when I hear auto journalists bash the Countryman for many different reasons.
I've had my CM S All4 for 4 months now and I can't complain about the clutch. There are times when I'm not as coordinated with my footwork as I should be and therefore do not have the smoothest take offs, but I drive it mostly in stop/start traffic and have not had the problems that they have mentioned.
I agree that it drives better in sport mode and wish that it could be started in sport mode by default, rather than have to engage it (although pressing a button is hardly a chore). I think that the combination of better throttle response is what makes the driving smoother. I've noticed that if I don't keep swapping between the modes all the time and spend longer driving in one mode, I adjust to the driving better and result in smoother takes offs regardless of mode.
I read the Four Seasons introduction before I finally purchased and came to the conclusion that it must have been a one off incident. Certainly my experience to date has not matched theirs.
One thing that I can't agree with is their comments on the automatic transmission. I drove several CM's with the auto just to make sure that I was doing the right thing. I found the transmissions slow to change, unless you were constantly wringing the neck of the car. When you spend considerable time in peak hour traffic as I do, because of the transmission learning your driving habits, I found that it made the car dull. Then at times when you wanted a bit of instant go, because it was learning peak hour habits, it was slow to change and respond. I know that there is sport mode and the paddles on the wheel, but all that goes out the window when you are trying to make for a break in traffic. At least with the manual, you are thinking about those things more. Well that is my opinion anyway.
This was the reason that I sold my previous MINI Cooper S Auto.
I think a relatively heavy vehicle, small motor and auto transmission do not make a good combination, but I'm sure there will be people that disagree. The CM auto needs a bigger engine with more instant torque.
My trade in car was a V8 X5 and I wanted to be sure that going from an auto back to a manual was something that I would not regret.
I can't comment on the auto mags comments and don't have the time to read them all but have been driving a Countryman SD manual for the last year and have no complaints with the gearbox.
The automatic is a non-starter for me due to the very poor fuel consumption that comes with this option.
I did borrow a new SD for a few days from the dealer before ordering as I needed to be sure I could live with the car and that it would be big enough for my needs and would suggest you try to do the same as it will help you to decide.
We've had the Cooper SD All4 with the 6-sp manual now for almost a year (Nov 2011 build) and the gearbox is good as gold. No issues with the clutch or gear-change system.
For us the auto was a non-starter too due to the major impact it has on fuel consumption (cost was part of it too). I only have the auto on my X6 because there is no choice!!
I've also been a firm believer that small engines & cars are not best suited to auto's anyway. And the Countryman isn't that 'big' either - it's based on a 1 Series after all.
I would not want to do a daily commute in heavy traffic in a manual now - automatics do make that job much simpler - but as I rarely do that the manual for me was the only way to go. Of course when I started driving 30 years ago, autos were very rare and we all used to sit in London traffic stirring our manual gearboxes.......
I suspect the clutch issues in the article are 'one of those things' and just might have been exacerbated by the car going through a number of different drivers and driving styles. The first driver may not have had a good 'clutch habit'.....but it's all speculation.
We have a 2005 E46 (3 Series) and that has always had a dreadful 1st to 2nd change. BMW said there was nothing wrong, but that box has been bad right off the bat, and only that specific car is affected as we've had and driven other BMW manuals as loaners with no issues at all.
My 2005 X5 auto gearbox destroyed itself at less than 42,000 miles when a 50pence part in the torque converter broke!! Just bad luck where the bits ended up as they blocked the oil pump and that was that - although that box is now 'known' to be a weak area with more and more owners having to replace/rebuild them - a £2k bill for most (£7k from BMW though!!).
Current: 2011 X6 40d & 2012 Countryman SD All4
Project: 2005 E46 330Cd M Sport convertible
Hey, what mileage ae you guys (gals?) at? I know Saw has had his for 4 months and Robbie and X6 about a year. I was reviewing some notes and remembered that the "Four Season" review had problems starting at 12,000 miles and a clutch replacment at 15,000.
My clutch went after 35000kms or about 22000miles. Perhaps I'm lucky as the guys at Automobile mag lost their clutch at 15000.
I don't believe it was a one off for them as it has happened to me and countless others. Its a poorly designed clutch and the fact that BMW has now built a new clutch for the Nov 2012 Countryman only cements that fact.
Whats shocking is that they don't cover the repair of my clutch even though the car is under warranty!
Sorry to hear the bad news MykillSpain. I really getted p'd off hearing these stories. And unfortunately I think this will be played out many more times in in the next 12 months when a number of other "high mileage" 2011 and 2012's come limping in to their MINI dealership with 40-60K on the odometer. This scenario sounds like 1990 all over again at your local Hyundau dealership.
If you are still within warranty I advise too fight dirty and you may get the beancounters to agree to pay for the new clutch. Talk to your local media too and maybe they"ll do a story on it. Our local TV broadcasters do regular "Consumer Watch" stories on TV and the complaint usually is resolved ASAP when the company at fault heres there is going to be bad press. What do you have to lose except an hour to write up your story?
I've said it once and I'll say it again ... is this what to expect after forking out your hard earned cash for a premium BMW approved product? I'll hold on to my money a little longer RatPack and maybe decide to head down to Subaru instead.
I have an SD but front wheel drive, but it has the manual box. I have had no problems with the clutch at all, it's bite point is fine I dont have to slip it to get away and the shifting is smooth.
For me I wouldnt look at the auto, is it dual clutch? Wouldnt bother with anything that wasnt.
I have read the "automobile" articles and all the forum comments.
Just wondering if the clutch issues are just in the S Countryman, or if it has occurred also in the diesel model? VERY close to buying a 2012 SD manual All4 countryman. Thanks in advance!
Hmmm, great questions Gasgirl but unfortunately I do not have the answer to that one. I'm not sure how much torque the diesel puts out but if it is in the 200-220 ft-lb range (i.e. similiar to the JCW) then I would bet yes. If it much more than this I would think they would have a beefier system in place.
Hi Blackhawks - well I bought my countryman D 2012 so I will let you know in 15000-25000km
When I quizzed the dealer he said my car has the software upgrade but not the improved clutch. Apparently here in Australia no clutches have gone yet....
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