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Mini introduces double clutch transmission

Date: 20 December 2017   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Mini drivers are being offered a new way to change gear, with the arrival in the range of a double clutch transmission.

The seven-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox is available to order now with selected engine variants on three-door and five-door hatchbacks and the convertible, as an alternative to the standard six-speed manual.

Mini says the new gearbox offers fast changes, a high degree of shift comfort and optimised efficiency.

It is operated by an electronic selector lever that always returns to its original position after changing between driving mode D, neutral position N and reverse mode. An S mode, activated by shifting the selector lever to the left from position D, allows the driver manual intervention.

The double clutch design enables upward gear shifts without torque interruption, allowing the driver to keep the accelerator pressed while the transmission control sets the shift points precisely.

To have the appropriate gear ready for the next shift, the electronic control system permanently uses data to analyse the driver's intentions and the situation on the road, meaning fast gear shifts can be made to respond appropriately to sudden changes.

For example, if acceleration has to be unexpectedly interrupted, the transmission takes no more than a fraction of second to make the next gear down available instead of the next gear up.

In automatic mode, the gearbox can be linked to sat-nav data, allowing it to plan gear shifts for upcoming junctions or bends in the road.

The gearbox allows use of stop-start, and can also be set to decouple the drivetrain as soon as the driver removes their foot from the accelerator, allowing the car to roll along with the engine idling, saving fuel. 

If sat-nav data or camera images show a need to apply the brakes, such as an approaching junction or vehicle, this coasting function is suppressed to allow engine braking to take effect.