Thoughts About the Automatic Transmission

I've spent about 3 months with the Roadster (R59) now. Still can't stop thinking what a great car this is. I'm really enjoying it for commuting duties, running around town and even on the twisties. Just about the only thing that I am still slowing coming to grips with is the automatic transmission. While I am digging it, I find myself yearning for a clutch and 6 proper gears when I'm not stuck in my hellish commute. That said, I'm still finding my way around the transmission, mostly thanks to tips from you guys! Here are some of the things that I have noticed.

It’s like 3 transmissions in 1

When I'm stuck in my commute, it's almost like a CVT. I can barely feel it shift, up or down. This might be me drifting off after work or mentally preparing for my day, but I'm not feeling it shift. In sport mode (lever to the left), it's like a proper transmission, complete with surges, shifts (up and down), but without having to use the clutch. In Manual mode (left left and shifting) it's um, different. While not the same as actually shifting, it does seem to really hold the gear until a shift is performed (or red line is reached). When it shifts, they feel like I did it with a manual transmission.


I'm used to down shifting into 2nd, releasing the clutch at the start of a turn so that I can power through the turn, even at slow speeds. This transmission doesn't do that unless you in manual mode, and even then, not really. The amount of delay in moving from the time the throttle is pressed until the transmission engages is something that I am still getting used to.


As I mentioned above, the amount of delay in moving is weird. Right foot down, count to 2 and then go. I'm not sure I will ever get used to this.


I've had the chance to drive the R59 in JCW trim, and in normal S trim, both with manual transmissions. In mine, I can get the yummy popping and cool exhaust sounds only when the sport button is pressed and the lever is moved left. In the manual cars, I remember is always being there. See my first point about it's almost like a CVT.

Overdrive has Overdrive

In manual mode, with or without the sport button pressed, I can be in 6th on the freeway and move the lever right. When I do that, it appears to drop into an even higher gear. I know it's not, just some software trickery, but it feels almost like going into overdrive. RPMs drop and everything.

I'm not complaining at all. I purposely looked for a car that had an automatic transmission (it was the 2nd check box after HK) because of my commute and the fact that Phoenix doesn't know how to run proper signals (they are all always red). Having an automatic has improved my daily driving but I'm still left wanting to have a clutch again, if only for 20 minutes per week.

This is ‘The Other Post’

Tracking back for the last few months and I see that I have taken to saying "but that is a topic for another post" quite a bit. Without further adieu, here is the other post

In talking about the Kia Forte, I said…

To be fair, my MINI is a cheap car. Come on, it’s an R56. Premium skipped this version, but that’s for another post.

And, in talking about the value of MINI, I said…

And since I don’t really like this car anyway (a story for another time)

This is the part where I bash on the first generation R56. If I can take a minute and be really honest, Bruce was a piece of shit. Roxy, with 305,000 miles on her when I traded her in, was a better car in so many ways. And I don’t mean in ways that are sentimental. The R50/R53 (even the earlier versions) was a better built car. It was more mechanically sound. It had a quality feel about it.

The first gen R56 that I had in Bruce did not have any of these things. Sure, he was a runner, but quality? Not so much. Weird stuff too like the drivers side sun visor. One day, it just fell off. The boot latch switch was completely rotted out. The body kit parts fell off easily and I lost both outside rear view mirrors. Sure, my R50 had it’s share of issues, but it was from things that actually broke, not from shit just falling off the car.

I have to say that with the R59 (the Roadster), build quality is what I expect from a car made by MINI. It is solid. It drives well. It has a good feel to it. This is the car I was expecting when I got Bruce.

Another that has come up more than once is the following:

It has an automatic (another story for another time)

For those of you that are playing the home game, you already know that I fought the battle diabetes and won (or am currently winning). With that come a particular set of issues that I am finding easier to deal with while having an automatic transmission.

Not only that, but I am finding myself less frustrated during my ridiculous commute. I am finding myself, once again, enjoying the journey. I am finding myself, once again, looking forward to spending time in my car. It might be the top, it might be the higher quality stereo, it might be the transmission. Whatever it is, the automatic plays a huge part and it’s helping to keep my feet from wishing they were cut off from my ankles.

Serously, wtf is up with your site lately

This is going to end up being a series of posts over at the other blog, but for now let me just tell you that I have sourced a new server for all of my sites (there are quite a few) and they all of been moved to that new server. I’m still trying to wrap my head, fully, around the cluster that became at the end so it will probably be another week or 2 until i get the words to to screen.

Now that I have gotten everything caught up and gotten you up-to-date, that keeps the plate clear for a more complete write-up of the Roadster. But, that’s going to have to be for another post.

Right. I Don’t Have a Spare

Driving to lunch yesterday, I start hearing a very strange noise coming from the passenger side rear of the car. Like a flat tire, but without the bad driving. I pulled over immediately, got out and checked. That when I saw that largest thing I have ever run over in a car. Ever. If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen how much was actually inside the tire. No kinding, this was a 6" long screw that I drove over! I had to use a hacksaw to get the big part off so I could drive it over to Discount Tire for a repair.

While I was looking at this, I was thinking I’d use the spare and then I remembered it would be the spare that I do not have. For the first time since 2003 I am driving a car without a spare tire and for the 2nd time since 2003 I’ve actually needed it. Luckily, like every other flat tire I have ever had, this one happened close to work / home / tire shop that could easily repair it.

That said, I have decided on my first mod. That will be grabbing a space saver spare from Detroit Tuned with the sweet bag Chad’s mom makes. While I won’t be carrying it all the time, I will have it so when I’m driving across the desert to visit my folks or go to Vegas or San Diego, I’ll be prepared. Like a boy scout. Like a boss.

I know you have a backup plan should something like this happen to you. Comments are open, share what you do!

Now He Is Mine

You guys know me and you know I like my cars to look a certain way. And by certain way I mean clean paint with a good shine and when you touch it is feels soft and silky. Roxy was like this almost always, and Bruce was too. I finally got the chance to do that with the Roadster, and I have assigned him a name.

Meet Hank

Unlike Bruce, this MINI did not have any of that crappy clear bra and old, brittle vinyl stripes (or 69’ing lizards on the roof). In fact, again unlike Bruce, this MINI has been much better cared for. Probably professionally detailed at least once, maybe more. Definitely garaged. Here is what I did to him today.

  • Full exterior wash
  • Full exterior claybar
  • Meguair’s polish with the DA on the boot and bonnet
  • Meguair’s NXT wax on the whole car
  • 303 on the roof (2nd treatment), plastic trim and interior door panels and dash
  • Armorall on the tires

After using clay on the paint, it was practically clean when I was done. Definitely had this done before, and sometime this year more than likely. I was really amazed. I polished the boot and bonnet because, at least to me, the paint was looking a bit dull. The DA brought it right out!

And, if I can say a word or two about 303. Quite possibly my new favorite thing! After I used it on the top and was shocked at how good it made it look, I went ahead and used it on the plastic trim, door panels and dash. I’m normally an Armorall guy, but this stuff has changed me! Easier to apply and it looks better after. Sure, I don’t get the shine, but it makes that stuff look black. Like, really black. Like brand new on the dealer lot black.

And now he is ready for AMVIV. And a proper photo shoot that I expect to be doing this weekend. I’ll let you guys know when those photos go up on Flickr.