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Discussion Starter #1
Initial impressions of Steptronic MINI Cooper EN51 CVT
- Blue and black look very good
- Road holding excellent even in 15"
- Handling is very good
- Steptronic probably the best auto I have driven aside from Jaguar XK8. Smooth but was tending to lurch from lights but that is getting better. Thr throttle is very exacting and it takes time to start feathering. This also means it needs a few revs to pick up from standstill. Overall exceptionally cannot feel changes.
- The car feels a lot faster than you are actually going!
- The Sport Drive mode gives a lovely rorty exhaust note- it sounds quite purposeful.
- It certainly gets lots of attention considering it was raining and dark.

Bad point and room for improvement.
- The Step gear stick looks great with Silver over the top but it will get scratched by rings and be hot in summer and cold in winter.
- The icons to tell where the gear lever is held e.g. Park are next to the passenger which make it impossible to read when you move the stick back you have to rely on the digital display in the speedo.
- The rev counter can get obstructed in certain seating positions.
- I am amazed and how easy it is to break traction although the wheels did not spin in the rain I could feel the tires 'chirping' under little gas but I think that is the nature of the gearbox that its put power down very quickly.
- Seats were giving me backache but that has now got better due to adjusting seat.
- I keep putting the front fogs on rather than lowering the window! The windows are a bit to eager towards 1 touch.
- Steering is heavy at parkings speeds especially compared to Yaris or even xk8 but that pays of towards good handling.

Hope this helps,

James
 

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jcuthell said:
. . . . . The icons to tell where the gear lever is held e.g. Park are next to the passenger which make it impossible to read when you move the stick back you have to rely on the digital display in the speedo . . . . . James
Yet another RHD car that gives precedence to LHD controllers - only difference this time is that the MINI is built in the UK!

Interesting report James.
 

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Steptronic Performance ?

What kind of performance are you getting ?
MPG, max speed etc compared to a manual gear change.
 

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how much is steptonic:confused: :confused: :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The official consumption is 36.7 but the tank now reads half full over 130 miles. Performance is good it feels quick but it is a stepless change I think you would be quite surprised next to a manual although on paper it looks nothing special at about 9.5 to 60. I have found that with CVTs before that they give quite rapid acceleration particularly from lights.

Anymore q's just ask I will post mpg when I fill up and work out.

James
 

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I saw a Steptronic silver ONE at my local dealer today - the icons for the lever positions were on the left hand side, not the right hand side as some early pictures showed. How does the engine behave in the fully auto mode - does it rev quite high and stay that way? Is there any benefit to be gained from using the six fixed ratios?

I also read somewhere that the rev counter may be height adjustable which may solve any visibility problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The full auto mode is fantastic seemless and very quite it does not take control like some autos do instead you can just sit and aim and corners. If you want fun around twisty corners the 6 speed is good but holds high revs between 2500 and 6000 when you are in auto the revs hover at 2000 which is exceptional. I think if anyone is interested it is definatley worth a test drive because you either love or hate these sorts of boxes I supspect although most won't choose it everyone would think it works very well. As I say the sport box sounds fantastic. The cost is £980.
 

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A dealer has promised me a test drive once they get their demonstrator (which was supposedly about now), but I haven't heard any news about it yet. It sounds as if it's worth the extra money and I'm looking forward to trying it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Demo autos

I don't think there are many demo autos around because there is a backlog to fufill the long list of orders (it is longer than I thought it would be a 150/ 500 cars a day being built are auto) Where are you based?

James
 

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I'm based on the Central South coast, near Southampton. The dealer in question is Barons of Farnborough who were expecting their Steptronic demo car around the end of November - I was 'tipped off' about that dealer getting one from someone on this forum, and Barons has a waiting list of people wanting a test drive. My local dealer isn't getting a Steptronic demo car, though they have had a Steptronic silver ONE with sports leather seats delivered for a customer.

Of course I may not get the Steptronic option but thought that it was probably worth investigating.
 

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According to the website, the Steptronic costs 980 Pounds, or about US$1,500. That is a lot of money and before I would commit to it, I would want to know how well it is going to hold up as compared to the manual gearbox. I guess the Steptronic sold in the States will have different programming to act more like a "conventional" automatic.
 

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Hi,

Thanks to a very helpful dealer in central London, I can look forward to driving a Spectronic MINI in just over a week. Can't wait. All I have heard about the CVT gearbox sounds promising, all except the ludicrous siting of the gearbox's function icons that is.

Mr bill, I believe that the gearbox has already been programmed to function more like a standard auto-box. The MINI's gearbox has "creep function", useful in Britain's grid-locked city roads and "kick down". Both are features associated with standard auto boxes, but not CVTs.

Can't wait to own a CVT Cooper!

cheers
Marsh
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I got 34.8 mpg over 238 miles which not bad at this stage hopefully could get 40. Marsh where in London are u and where is your test drive?

Hope u enjoy it!

James
 

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Hi James,

I live in north London and the test drive will be to Scratchwood services and back. It gives me the chance to go along the local pot-holed streets, then cover some 40-50 Mph roads and finally a a short stretch on the M1.

cheers
Marsh
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thats good you have a long drive because a few miles round town would not give the gearbox justice it took about 25 miles for it to grow on me.

James
 

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Just posting on behalf of cooper_sport, whos now got his Silk Green steptronic, but is WAY to busy to come and post on this forum!! So, as his Dad, I'll post, as I can't seem to get my account activated on this board.

I've just had a drive in the steptronic, and this is an excellent automatic gearbox. I've driven many automatics over the years from Mitsubishi, Volvo, Subaru, and Mercedes, and I reckon the steptronic is better than all of these. In automatic mode, there are no gear changes, just a constant flow of power. Put it into the sports mode, and you can have as much fun as I'm used to having in my Merc SLK, changing down gears into corners, holding it in gear around roundabouts, etc. Kick down works really well, although only briefly tested due to running in.

At motorway speeds, its interesting to see that holding sixth gear manually gives over 3000rpm at 70mph, whereas in auto mode it showed around 3000rpm. So you've effectively got 7 gears.

Final comment - I would rather have the MINI steptronic gearbox than my Mercedes SLK gearbox - CVT is the way of the future for automatics.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My steptronic just returned 31.3 mpg and that was careful driving. Doh!
 

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Hi,

I have just returned from a 2 hour test drive of a CVT Cooper. The drive included a stretch on the M1, 90 miles in all, so I would have a good idea of how the beast would handle on the motorway. Many thanks to Lee, one of the dealers at the helpful and efficient ParkLane MINI, who allowed such an extensive test drive.

My initial impressions mirror those of James earlier in this thread. The CVT really is an excellent box. None of the "branded Heffer" type squealing that you associate with a normal CVT, when you give it some welly. The box was remarkably smooth in operation and gave the car a startling burst of acceleration whenever you asked questions of it. If anything the CVT transmission seems to give even better acceleration, at least from 0-40 mph, than a manual. Like James, I enjoyed using the box in its sports setting. You can get acceleration capable of snapping your head back against the restraint, albeit at the cost of higher fuel consumption. Overtaking was almost effortless. On a par with our current car, a Pug 306 1.8.

The only downside to the CVT was a tendency to put down almost too much power. When you try and pull away from a standing start, unless you are careful with the gas, the Cooper can lurch. Also I also think that whoever put the gearbox icons on the passenger side wants shooting, they are impossible to see. In order to confirm what gear position you are in, you are reliant on a small display amidst the rather cluttered and poorly positioned speedo'.

The general ambience of the Cooper was classy. Everything appeared well put together with no squeaks or rattles. The cabin may be retro mad, but except for the central positioning odf the Speedo', (a personal hate), it works very well indeed. You feel you are in a luxury cruiser rather than a city car. I loved the fact that the MINI did not feel like a small care to drive. You really feel like you are in a bigger machine, a perception helped by the breadth of the vehicle and the fact that at least up front, there is a surprising amount of room.

You have excellent visibility over the front 180 degrees of the car. Unfortunately, if you try and look over your shoulder when joining the motorway, you find that the centre pillar really makes for a dangerous blindspot, much worse than any other car I have driven. The pillar is right in your sight line. However, you can compensate for this by using the excellent wing mirrors. At least these are of a sensible size, unlike the stylish, but too small drivers mirror.

The all leather sports seats were a bit of a downer. They look fine, at least after a couple of thousand miles on the clock. Despite being supportive around the bum and hips, there were bloody uncomfortable as far as your back is concerned. The lumber support shpuld be classified as an instrument of torture, it really does impinge on your back - in the wrong place - rather than being a source of comfort. The seats need serious re-working, not only do they need a more intuitive folding mechanism, they need a complete re-design. They are so uncomfortable they would make me reconsider purchasing the car. BMW, get your act together, the seats do not do justice to an excellent vehicle.

The sports suspension plus with 16 inch tyres gave a ride with minimal roll in the bends which felt very sporty. If, as i hope we end up getting the machine, I would probably go for the standard suspension with 16 inch run-flats for the optimum blend of ride, cornering and handling. The car had a persistent drift to the left by the way, much more marked than our Pug. Unwelcome, but in the case of this particular machine, easy to correct.

Sorry for going on, I am still excited about the test drive. I am sold on the Cooper, despite any flaws. I just need to convince my partner that we will be spending her money wisely.

Once again thanks to Lee and his collegues for such an extensive test drive.

cheers
Marsh
 

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CVT Belt Life

I will be ordering a CVT MINI Cooper early next year and was wondering if any CVT owners know what the life of the belt is, how often does MINI recommend that it should be changed? I've asked my dealer several times but he does not actually know and keeps quoting other manufactures. :confused: :confused: :confused:
 

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The steptronic gearbox is made by ZF, called a ZF-Ecotronic. The belt should not wear, it's a "high-load thrust link belt made of steel". My understanding is that this is a Van Doorne steel belt, that is PUSHED rather than pulled - it's a THRUST LINK belt, so shouldn't stretch. More details at http://www.zf-group.de/defaultz.asp?lang=1

The same gearbox will be used by Ford in 2002 on FWD-based vehicles up to 3000cc and 174 lb-ft torque. See story here http://www.motorage.com/frontnews/112900.htm.
 
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