Consumer Reports Has MINI Shifter Come off During Driving

File this under things you don’t want to ever have happen. Consumer Reports is reporting that their Cooper S test car’s shifter came off during “spirited” driving recently.

While they so far love the car, this clearly isn’t a consumer friendly feature. We’ve had a Cooper manual all week and haven’t experienced anything like it. However, we have heard of one other similar failure elsewhere in the world.

  • Andrew Vella

    That’s because the driver does not know how to shift…

    • Jamie Holloway

      It’s happened to TWO OTHER reviewers.

      • Andrew Vella

        I work for MINI and shift hard all the time when showing the clients what the car can do and this has never happened to me….even in the pre production vehicles,.

        • Jamie Holloway

          Great for you, but it’s happened to several people on here, and to at least TWO MAJOR publications. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure GM employees could say the same thing about the ignition switch issue, but it killed people. Not everyone is going to experience the issue, but it’s pretty major that it’s been documented by several sources.

        • Andrew Vella

          I found that if you grab the shifter by the shaft and shift gears it can happen however from the top of the shifter it most likely wont. The locking mechanics for the shifter is exactly the same as the R53 and R56. I can’t replicate the issue with the cars that I have here maybe there’s a bad batch of shifters?

    • Roger Seeley

      personally i find that to be retarded…the shifter breaks and you claim its the human’s fault…ive owned minis for years and this is the first time ive really seen multiple reports of a brand new model having this issue…id like to see you behind the wheel of this car and see if your oh so superior skills at shifting will cause the issue to happen again…between this and all of the other issues and delays…this car is becoming quite the launch failure

      • Andrew Vella

        Launch failure? How do you figure? It’s only deemed by you as a launch failure because MINI sales are down for the month? That’s because they only count delivered units not sold units. I have spoken to the sales people in the GTA (Toronto, Canada) and nobody has had this issue yet. We have not had anybody in service who experienced this issue yet. Why do you want to see me behind the wheel? You clearly don’t care and are quick to judge a product before actually experiencing the vehicle. Or are you another F56 hater because it’s “too big”?

  • Alberto M

    There is a test video on youtube which shows this happening to the test driver.

  • lawrothegreat

    Personally I think that this is rather silly. I’ve tried to remove mine, unsuccessfully, after watching the Youtube video of a British journalist doing it a couple of months ago. I really really tried. I can’t see how this would happen even during rather enthusiastic driving. Does it come off if you know how – of course it does, that’s how things are put together and how they are removed if they need to be.

  • r_k_w

    Starting at 4:00

    The reviewer even demonstrates it.

    • tobi

      i made a gif a long time ago..

    • Martin

      Why does anyone pull on the shiftstick? Maybe they should consider driving automatic Transmission instead.

  • fishbert

    A shifter coming off during driving is not “rather silly” nor can it be dismissed out of hand as just “the driver does not know how to shift” … it’s a safety event that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

    Just because you can’t get it to happen on your car doesn’t mean that it isn’t a significant issue. You need to think (as manufacturers do) about component tolerances and variation over a large production run.

  • RKCA1

    This is nothing new to BMW drivers. It’s happened to my M Coupe a few times. Chalked up to experience and now I shift with more care instead of trying to man handle the shifter lever. I’m not alone and my specific model isn’t the only one this occurs to. I attribute it mainly to the friction fit vs screwed in shifters that other manufacturers use.

    • My 2000 M Roadster had the exact same issue!

  • matthew

    This happened to me the within a couple weeks of purchasing my 2014 hardtop. Taking it in to the dealer tomorrow for them to look into it.

    • OldKH

      This also happened to me test driving a used ’09 S at a Chevy dealer. Fortunately, it was the last thing that happened while parking back at the lot. Only thing different it wasn’t just the knob, it was the whole gear shift shaft. At least this guy could still shift it.

  • matthew

    Here’s the pic of it after it happened. I was accelerating and turning, and what you could consider as “spirited.”

  • Jordan

    I have 4k miles on my Cooper and mines not come off its pretty solid if you ask me. Your gona have to pull it pretty hard for it to come off. Not some thing you do to change gear !

  • Bruce Becker

    Isn’t this just a “feature” like tilt steering? Now you can shift anywhere…

  • Bob Hayhurst

    …and it had to be Consumer Reports when shifter boot failure road into town… Damn

  • DaCrema

    I tell people the the shifter is not a microphone and they are not in the car to be a rock star. Ya only need two or three fingers to make a shift.

  • WilliamsK

    Who cares if consumer reports loves the car. Look at what they say about the Camry…Altima…etc… The important reviews are from the track, where the brakes have overheated, it’s been slammed for not having a very powerful feeling engine (S), and the suspension tuning has been knocked for being the opposite of confidence inspiring. The new S only pushes 8psi boost. The R56 was running 16psi, and it felt powerful. I’m super angry that Mini went this route for the newest car.

    • walk0080

      Seems like MINI are trying to appear to a broader audience with 3rd gen and I don’t like it either. I saw a low end 3rd gen Cooper in black the other day – boy was it boring and IMO a little ugly. Haven’t read much of the reviews lately as I am not really in the market. Despite it’s faults I still love my R56 JCW hardtop.

      With respect to the shift boot falling off. That is probably a manufacturer defect and should not happen. Lets hope it only affects a small number of cars and nobody is hurt during the failures (hey at least the brake pedal still works!).

      • YamahaR1racer

        I hate the new F56. It’s very ugly. In fact, hideous. Just because it’s gotten okay reviews in the press doesn’t mean anything. The prior 2 generations were slammed for their brittle ride, but they more than made up for that with the way they could hold a line, blast out of a tight sweeper, and they had a look that was unmistakeable. The new car is still firmly sprung, but it allows a lot of roll, Randy Pobst and various other reviews I’ve seen have talked about how unsteady it feels at high speed on a track, and how it’s engine never really pulls strongly. I just saw on Burger Motorsports website that the stock S’ turbo is only putting out 8psi. It kinda reminds of the old Saab 3.0L V6 turbo that had an ultra-low pressure turbo that never really helped boost power. The F56 felt very similar to that Saab 3.0T.

        • lawrothegreat

          But it is worth noting that the MCS delivers 300Nm / 221 Ib Ft of torque from low revs which you would not get from a NA 2.0 so the turbo is clearly contributing something.

        • YamahaR1racer

          It’s also worth noting that the F56 S weighs considerably more, has NO power above 4500RPM, and it sounds like garbage. The R56 S put out 200lb-ft at the wheels stock. This 221lb-ft is overboost only, and from my own experience driving it, is at the crank not the wheels

        • lawrothegreat

          Clearly it does have power above 4,500rpm, so that’s a slightly silly thing to say. The R56S did also tail off before the redline; a single turbo isn’t going to be effective throughout the entire rev range so to maintain that they’re worlds apart isn’t exactly true. Yes the R56S did consistently produce great stock figures, but so might the F56S. The mass data isn’t out there yet so it’s a little premature to make the comparison.

        • The F56 weighs less than the R56 outside of the US, so for everywhere else in the world, you’re getting a lighter car with a wider track. The US is heavier due to differences in safety equipment. Every generation evolves: the R56 can’t hold a candle to the sound of an R53 and the F56 is more refined but similar in character.

        • TuningTurbo’s

          The N18 engine actually makes more power and torque than the B48 at almost all revs. The B48 only makes 4lb-ft more PEAK than the N18, but it’s for a very small window. If you look at the N18 and B48 dyno comparison, the N18 consistently is putting out more power at the wheels. You can check for yourself. That’s why it’s not as fast as the N18. It creates it’s power over a very small range, and it weighs more – thus, a slower car. It’s also geared more for fuel economy. It’s not a better engine.

        • lawrothegreat

          I’d love to check for myself, please quote a source that shows rolling road figures for several F56S models. The only magazine that I’m aware of that has done comprehensive performance testing of both the R56S and F56S, Autocar, has shown the F56S to be quicker in every acceleration test. But that’s all rather scientific, feel is more important. I had an 2007 R56S which produced 192hp and 211 Ib Ft stock, and my F56 MCS pulls noticeably harder between 15mph and 50mph in second. The problem with the F56 is the DSC and the electronic differential, they can interfere lots. However put it in DTC mode and it’s great.

        • ToldYa
    • Andrew Vella

      They only use 8PSI because they have a 2.0L engine not to mention the Turbo on the new vehicle is slightly bigger. What does this mean? The engine will last longer… It wont suck oil like the R56 does. The F56 is more mature, it drives well and actually looks lively in the interior.

      • UrDelusional


      • TurboTuning

        Dude, VW’s 1.8T and 2.0T engines push much higher boost and they have been very reliable engines. Some of them are pushing 20+psi.

        • BMW N20 in the 328i runs 19psi stock producing 240hp & 260 lb/ft. Mercedes runs 26psi in the CLA45 AMG producing 355hp. The 2-series active tourer 225i with the same engine as the F56 S pushes 231hp and 258lb/ft with more boost. So yes, MINI is perfectly capable of putting in more boost while keeping things reliable. Keep in mind the F56 hatch will only be FWD, and MINI is likely keeping the status quo with the F56 S and will likely push the boost up with the JCW. I personally was hoping for more from the stock S, but people will likely be able to tune this to the 250 range will little effort and tuning the N20 past 300hp is pretty easy. The gains of the base Cooper seem to diminish the mild gains of the S, but they MINI is likely leaving room for JCW and the LCI.

        • VIR-Rfivesix

          I want a hot performance car out of the box like the last two S’.

        • Andrew Vella

          Yes they have been doing it for some time however MINI has not. Any R56 before the LCI fit in 2011 has several engine problems and turbo failures. Yes I liked the power figures from the R56 and I miss that sudden push of power. You can easily tune this car over 250hp.. it’s not a big deal

  • TwinTurboTuner

    “Our Cooper couldn’t quite hang with the Fiesta ST on the switchback roads of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. Mini outfitted our Cooper S with no-cost all-season tires that lack bite—summer tires are standard. Even on 17-inch wheels with run-flat tires, there’s a softness and slowness to the Mini’s chassis and steering that remind us of the latest BMWs. Largely due to the minivan-grade tires and the dusty surface, the skidpad grip and braking performance numbers are unimpressive.” -Car and Driver, 2014

    They basically said this newest MINI Cooper S is a softened up, bloated version of it’s predecessor and that even a Fiesta ST, which is older and cheaper, dusts the MINI in every measurable way.

    • It does appear that BMW is making non-M cars just a bit softer overall while M-cars are still at the front of the pack. It seems like MINI is going to do the same and make the JCW the sporty model with the S merely being the more powerful Cooper. It’s a bit of a shame, but keep in mind that the Focus and Fiesta ST are the most engaging hot hatches save for some of the bonkers Renault Megane special editions. The Smoking Tire recently compared a Fiesta ST to a BMW E46 M3 and said the steering in the Fiesta ST is actually better than the E46 M3 (a RWD car renowned for it’s steering feel!) Also the difference between all season and summer tires can transform the handling experience as it sounds like it did in this comparison. The Fiesta ST only comes with one suspension: Sport, while the F56 S could have had the base suspension, adjustable or sport, but we have no idea. Given the all-seasons tires, I’d guess it was also the base suspension or possibly adjustable, but not the sport suspension. If you look at the numbers, the MINI is faster in 70% percent of the tests even with all seasons and scores higher overall for powertrain, is within one point for vehicle marks and although 5 points behind in chassis would likely have been closer if the sport suspension and summer tires were spec’d as the Fiesta ST was. The Fiesta ST is a fantastic car, and even if the F56 S was spec’d to compete with sport suspension and summer tires, the ST may still have come out on top however it would have been much closer if the fight was more fair.

  • KPP

    Happened to me too at an F56 track day organized by a local dealer when they received their launch cars in early April. When I pulled over into pit lane and showed everyone, the mechanic on hand said it happened in the morning session as well (same car). I am by no means the most graceful shifter, but I was definitely not hard on it when it slid right up off the linkage shifting into third. I’m wondering if once this happens, it occurs easier as the clips that hold it in place begin to wear.

    In any case, this is a terrible, terrible quality issue and BMW should get their S**t together and fix it…like yesterday. Realistically, you SHOULD be able to go hard on it without the thing ripping off. Its so damn dangerous. Here’s hoping its an issue with the early launch/press models and that BMW are or will take action. I feel embarrassed for them as is.

  • Pete George

    Our new F56 is in the shop after two weeks with manual shifter issues. It did not come off but something popped and the shifter became very floppy ( but still attached and fucntional) Shifter cable is coming in from Germany so 2 weeks without the car as they dont want us to drive it (perhaps for fear it will come off) This may be an issue….