Mini plans to launch updated versions of its two most commodious models this summer. While many of the refinements are incredibly boring (like a new particulate filter that adheres to new European emission mandates), there are tastier aspects to cherry pick. For example, the Clubman and Countryman gain receive upgraded transmissions in Europe — which hopefully carries over North America, as well.
The change replaces the standard automatic with a seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission. Tragically, that unit has already made its way into the smaller Cooper hatchback and has proven excruciatingly slow in making its way across the ocean. Still, why you would buy a Mini 2-door and not option it with a contrasting roof and manual transmission is beyond us. The impractical little car’s saving grace is its fun factor and visual appeal, and you should probably lean into both if thinking of buying one.
The bigger ships in Mini’s fleet sacrifice some of that fun for practicality and a more mainstream appeal, which is why it makes sense for BMW Group to get the DTC into them as soon as possible. Offered exclusively on gasoline models, Mini claims the new gearboxes offer noticeably faster shift times at cleverer intervals — improving both performance and fuel economy.
“In addition to enhanced driving fun, the design principle adapted from motor racing also has all the comfort features of an automatic transmission,” Mini said of the DTC. “It ensures harmonious and acoustically barely perceptible changes in drive position, free of load change reactions in the engine — not just when sprinting but also when decelerating.”
The addition of the new transmission also allows the brand to implement stop/start functionality and an adaptive coast setting that works with the vehicle’s navigation to maximize efficiency. Gear selection can be achieved manually. However, paddle shifters are only available on the more-expensive Cooper S models.
Mini is also offering the Clubman with a new Connectivity Package, which encompasses real-time navigation with traffic updates, Apple CarPlay, wire-free cellphone charging, and a Harman Kardon audio system. This is all managed through a 8.8-inch touchscreen and Mini’s Touch Controller, which allows you two write in letters rather than than selecting them on a keypad.
Officially, this news is for European customers only. But it’s presumed the updates will eventually make the trip to North America — assuming the brand decides to keep selling cars here. If it does, it might want to get the lead out.