MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

My wife needs a new car to commute about 40 mins up the A1 every day. The interior look is important to her. She's considering either a Mini Cooper or a Mercedes A180 petrol. Both would have to be automatics as that's all she can drive.

I understand both cars use a 7 speed DCT automatic box which as far as I can tell is supplied by Getrag. I have read reports of the A class being slow to pull out from junctions. We did test drive the A class but they only had a diesel & I found that difficult to pull out smoothly. Nothing happened & then it accelerated hard with wheel spin. I only had a short drive so maybe in time I would have adjusted to the sensitive accelerator pedal.

My other concern with these gearboxes is their long term reliability. Personally I like to buy a new-ish car & keep it for a long time. However if the gearboxes are going to cause problems in the long term out of warranty, then this isn't such a great idea.

Another option is the Toyota Corolla hybrid which I much prefer but doesn't have the fun/wow factors of the Mini/Merc. My wife tried driving it & commented that she liked how it drove so maybe there's hope I can get her one of those.

So what does the backroom think?

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - gordonbennet

The BR will mostly agree with the third option of those choices, and probably suggest you go try the outgoing Mazda 3 as well in 2.0 litre auto form which will be considerably cheaper than the Toyota hybrid as it is to be replaced this year.

Few would suggest keeping either of the two first choices out of warranty.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - SLO76
I wouldn’t have anything with an automated manual box, they’ve proven to be unreliable in the longterm and even the Japanese have given up trying to make them work. I do like the new Corolla but the cost is prohibitive and the fuel savings won’t even cover a fraction of the added cost unless you’re a taxi driver. I’d rather have a good used Mazda 3 2.0 Skyactiv auto. It’s fun to drive and I think quite sporty inside.

Edited by SLO76 on 15/03/2019 at 13:26

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

Thanks for the replies. I hadn't thought about the Mazda before & I used to have one too. I'll see what my wife thinks as it's going to be her car.

As for the Corolla, my wife works in the NHS so I think she can use their car discount scheme which means a surprisingly hefty discount. If she goes for the Merc or Mini then judging by the replies so far & my own thoughts, we won't keep it out of warranty or if we do, then pay to extend the warranty.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply. I'll keep the BR updated with what my wife decides in the end.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - badbusdriver

Am i not right in thinking Getrag made the Powershift gearboxes for Ford?

But you are right to be concerned over long term reliability, the only way i'd buy a car with an automated dual clutch manual gearbox would be if it was new and i'd be getting rid of it before the warranty was up. Maybe have a look at a Kia Ceed, which does use a dct but has a 7 year warranty?.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - badbusdriver

Speaking of the Mercedes A class, i saw one the other day with, "CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE VEHICLE", in big letters on the side. I guess that is the current name for what used to be called a 'demonstrator'?!

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - Regdor

Looked at the new Corolla and found it cramped and depressingly black inside and hated it as much as the CHR so not for us, What is this fashion for funereal black interiors? The A1 is just as bad!

I too want an auto but we have found it impossible to find one we like! Poor seats, dodgy DCT, dubious boosted petrols (VW 1.5 for example) , whining CVT, lousy ride, noisy ride , "no you cannot have climate unless you get big wheels", useless sales people. The list is endless so we drive our 14 year old Volvo and our cash sits in the bank!

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - SLO76
“so we drive our 14 year old Volvo and our cash sits in the bank!”

Best move. Keep the old car, keep the money or have an extra holiday in the sun every year instead of wasting thousands on depreciation.
MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - drd63
Each to their own but I’m a car fan so like having something different every few years,. As one of the last na manual V8’s I will be keeping my Mustang long term though but will change my daily car frequently. On the holiday theme surely keeping the same car forever is like going on holiday to the same place year in year out?
MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - RT
Each to their own but I’m a car fan so like having something different every few years,. As one of the last na manual V8’s I will be keeping my Mustang long term though but will change my daily car frequently. On the holiday theme surely keeping the same car forever is like going on holiday to the same place year in year out?

Comes down to how well a car fits your needs, assuming your needs don't change - I've only every changed cars when my needs have changed.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

I thought it was time for an update as I said I would given my wife is now on the verge of finally buying a car.

So when I started this discussion we were thinking about a Mini, Mercedes A class or the new Corolla - all autos. My wife's main criteria is the interior quality, hence the Mini and A class. Initially she was very keen on the A class. However after driving it she wasn't so positive. The DCT gearbox isn't the most responsive box around which can make pulling out from junctions interesting. Delivery was long too and with the options my wife wanted it was expensive.

After the Merc we tried a Mini. Mini are advertising 48 hour test drives but when we tried to book one, it was impossible to get an automatic car for 48 hours. We ended up with a short test drive around the block where we didn't get above 40 mph! Given my wife will spend most of the time on the motorway I wasn't impressed. A few weeks later we had another test drive which did include some dual carriage way. It was a fun go kart like drive but not sure how it would wear after a while. IIRC the Mini uses the same DCT gearbox as the Merc so presumably it has the same issue pulling out from junctions although we didn't experience that. Then there was the cost. My wife is keen on having a reversing camera. To get that option IIRC we have to spend £1600 on a number of other options that we don't really want. Personally I have a problem with Mini's packaged options system which appears to be designed to extract yet more money from punters. For us it had the reverse effect as we decided to look elsewhere.

We then tried the Hyundai i20. My wife wasn't so keen. The interior not being upto Mini standards didn't help. The salesman wasn't the best either.

At this point my wife was still adamant that she wanted a new car. Following on from the suggestions for Mazda, I took her to the Mazda dealer. The new Mazda 3 looks a little odd and cost wise, there was little if any discount available so instead I steered my wife to the CX3 which I thought wasn't too big and had a raised driving position which I thought would appeal. However my wife saw a Mazda 2 in the show room and took a fancy to that. So off we went for a test drive in the Mazda 2. Personally I didn't think it was anything special but my wife liked it. Unfortunately I was disappointed when I realised that the salesman had used our NI numbers to check our driving licenses on a government website for which he had no right to do without our permission. Fortunately there was a Toyota garage next door to Mazda so I pointed my wife to the Corolla again. After yet another test drive we decided the Corolla was a much better car than the Mazda so we decided to go with that despite my wife's misgivings about the interior.

Last weekend we were about to order a Corolla when I finally managed to persuade my wife that secondhand wasn't such a bad option after all. I also raised the possibility of the Lexus CT200h that has the hybrid system that my wife likes along with a decent interior. We took one for a test drive and my wife liked it. The ride could be better and it's getting on now, but otherwise it's a good car IMO, gets positive reviews from owners and should last many years.

So in summary, after trying numerous cars I think we have finally settled, for now at least, on a secondhand Lexus CT200h. We just need to find one with a reversing camera!

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - gordonbennet

Nice update Merlin, and confess i like your methods, if the behaviour of the dealer isn't what you would expect (ie that checking your licences out without asking) you walked away.

Good choice the Lexus hybrid, that Toyota hybrid drive is proving robust and durable in a decent looking package behind the Lexus badge.

Make sure you find one with a full dealer history, so you can take advantage of keeping the warranty going on the hybrid batteries and system.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

The warranty options on the CT200h are attractive for a used purchase. Apparently there's a deal coming v soon where if you buy on finance from a Lexus dealership, then you get 2 years Lexus warranty instead of the previous 1 year.

In addition, Lexus offer a further 2 years for £495. This includes Europe wide AA cover.

So 4 years warranty cover for not much appears to be a great deal on a secondhand car.

However Lexus cars rarely breakdown so I doubt it will cost Lexus much but as a punter, I do like the peace of mind offered by a manufacturer backed warranty, especially when paying premium prices at a Lexus dealership.

Edited by merlin on 06/06/2019 at 14:33

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - SLO76
“Unfortunately I was disappointed when I realised that the salesman had used our NI numbers to check our driving licenses on a government website for which he had no right to do without our permission.“

The salesman is legally obliged to check you do have a licence to drive before letting you behind the wheel. Although he should’ve told you he was verifying your licences (no idea he could do this from your NI number, possibly he was talking d*****) I certainly wouldn’t be overly upset by this. Many dealers ask you to bring your licence with you to test drive and I’m guessing you didn’t have them so he had to check online or refuse you a test drive. I wouldn’t walk away from a car or a deal I liked for this minor issue.

The Mazda 2, 3 or CX3 are all excellent cars with enjoyable handling decent ride and an enviable reputation for reliability if you stick to the petrol engines.

The Lexus you’re looking at is well made and very reliable but was a sales disaster for the firm, certainly in Europe. They attempted to market it as a BMW 1 series rival with overly firm suspension to give neat sporty handling but the CVT Hybrid drivetrain didn’t match up with this ambition nor did the awkward styling. Don’t over pay for one as depreciation isn’t great and take a good test drive as the ride quality is often criticised. They should’ve made it an upmarket Prius instead with comfort oriented suspension. No reason not to buy one if you’re happy with the looks and the drive though, it’s unlikely to go wrong.

Edited by SLO76 on 06/06/2019 at 17:49

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

"The salesman is legally obliged to check you do have a licence to drive before letting you behind the wheel. Although he should’ve told you he was verifying your licences (no idea he could do this from your NI number, possibly he was talking d*****) I certainly wouldn’t be overly upset by this. Many dealers ask you to bring your licence with you to test drive and I’m guessing you didn’t have them so he had to check online or refuse you a test drive. I wouldn’t walk away from a car or a deal I liked for this minor issue."

We both had our driving licenses with us plus our NI numbers as requested by the salesman on the phone before our visit. The reason he wanted our NI numbers was because he used this website www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence to check our licenses. Unfortunately he didn't ask our permission beforehand. Infact he was very cagey about what he was doing trying to hide his computer screen so clearly knew he was in the wrong.

Note that website explicitly states:

"It’s a criminal offence to obtain someone else’s personal information without their permission."

I think we were right to walk away and he was lucky that I didn't make a complaint to the dealer principal or even the police.

This was the only garage that needed our NI numbers. Presumably the other garages had a legal way to check our licenses.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - SLO76
“We both had our driving licenses with us plus our NI numbers as requested by the salesman on the phone before our visit. The reason he wanted our NI numbers was because he used this website www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence to check our licenses. Unfortunately he didn't ask our permission beforehand. Infact he was very cagey about what he was doing trying to hide his computer screen so clearly knew he was in the wrong.”

Odd one that. I’ve no idea why he wanted to do this when you had your licences with you. Probably right enough to walk. Shame as the cars are very worthy.
MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

Odd one that. I’ve no idea why he wanted to do this when you had your licences with you. Probably right enough to walk. Shame as the cars are very worthy.

I think he wanted to check that we had not been disqualified from driving and possibly how many points were on our licenses.

I would be interested to know how other garages check disqualification based on only the driving license. Maybe they don't check and simply photocopy the license to file away incase of problems following the test drive.

MINI Cooper - Mini DCT automatic - merlin

The Lexus you’re looking at is well made and very reliable but was a sales disaster for the firm, certainly in Europe. They attempted to market it as a BMW 1 series rival with overly firm suspension to give neat sporty handling but the CVT Hybrid drivetrain didn’t match up with this ambition nor did the awkward styling. Don’t over pay for one as depreciation isn’t great and take a good test drive as the ride quality is often criticised. They should’ve made it an upmarket Prius instead with comfort oriented suspension. No reason not to buy one if you’re happy with the looks and the drive though, it’s unlikely to go wrong.

Thanks for that. Apparently the CT200h 2014 update included softer suspension but it's still far from ideal. There's also a lot of road noise but I think that's down to the tyres supplied from new. A set of cross climates should help reduce that issue.

I have tried to talk my wife into a IS 300h as that is IMO a much better car but she's not buying. It's the size that puts her off with its extra length plus it doesn't have a hatchback. Perhaps if I can get her driving one that will change her mind...

 

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