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Section: F54 Clubman

Exclusive: MINI’s New 8 Speed Automatic Transmission Revealed

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, F55 Five Door Hatch, F56 Hatch, F57 Convertible, F6X Countryman, Rumor Sep 17th, 2014 12 Comments

Aisin_AW_AWF8F35

Over the past five years there’s been plenty of speculation on these pages and others about what MINI would be replacing it’s long in the tooth six speed Aisin automatic transmission. The transmission, first seen in the R53 in 2004 has been a work horse for MINI ultimately finding its way (in revised spec) in the new F56. While improvements have made the unit (enough to even find it in BMW’s halo i8 sports car) six speeds doesn’t cut it in terms of performance or efficiency anymore. Enter BMW’s answer: the Aisin 8 speed AWF8F35

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According to sources BMW had considered several options for MINI including the new ZF 9 speed and a dual clutch transmission. It would seem that the existing technical relationship between BMW/MINI and Aisin when it comes to front wheel drive transmissions helped sway them in that direction, there were also other factors at play. For one the BMW felt that the new breed of traditional automatics offers most of the performance of the DCT with greater comfort and higher efficiency.

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The more you look at the AWF835 the more it seems particularly well suited for MINI’s needs. For one the 8 speed has a decoupling mechanism that allows for a reduction in parasitic drag which allows for coasting on overrun – something that BMW has been incorporating in across its range. It’s also built from the ground-up to be compatible with MINI’s start/stop functionality.

Estimated MPG Figures

What does this mean to potential owners? According to sources, the AWF8F35 will add up to a 14% improvement in fuel efficiency when compared to the current Aisin 6 speed. Looking at MPG numbers for 2014 (the last that are available as of today), here’s an early look at what we could see out of a 8 speed automatic equipped F56.

Cooper S with Aisin 8 Speed AWF8F35 Automatic

  • 29 > 33 city
  • 40 > 46 highway
  • 33 > 38 combined

Cooper with Aisin 8 Speed AWF8F35 Automatic

  • 30 > 34 city
  • 42 > 48 highway
  • 34 > 39 combined

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Keep in mind this is straight math on our part and there could be other variabilities at play as MINI tunes this transmission to work with the existing engines. However it’s easy to see what a 14% improvement will do – immediately make the F5X generation of MINIs dramatically more efficient than anything that came before. Now imagine what this would do for the current diesel range – one of which, the Cooper SD we know is coming to the US within two years. Then there’s the plug-in hybrid that we will either see on the next generation Clubman or Countryman.

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The Timeline

If there was disappointment with MPG figures when the F56 was released, they will be quickly forgotten the second the 8 speed hits dealer lots. But the big question is when? Obviously MINI has to be chomping at the bit to get this upgrade out the door. Given that the improvement is so dramatic, we’d be surprised to see the company wait for the 2018 refresh to make the change. Instead we’d expect something much sooner, possibly coinciding with the launch of another variant like the JCW and Convertible next spring or even the Clubman next summer. However these dates are purely based on our best guesses at this point.

One important clue in how MINI roll out adoption if the 8 speed is BMW’s own use of the transmission in the 2 Series Active Tourer. Currently the AWF8F35 is only available in the four cylinder versions of that car meaning the 1.5L three cylinder engine is still mated to the six speed. What that means for MINI is still unknown.

Expect to hear much more on the new Aisin 8 Speed AWF8F35 soon.

MINI’s Top Secret 300 HP All Wheel Drive Plans

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, F56 Hatch, F6X Countryman, JCW, JCW GP, Rumor Aug 18th, 2014 37 Comments

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The next generation Clubman and Countryman are due in 2015 and 2017 respectively, will represent major milestones for the brand. Designed to right the wrongs of previous larger MINIs, they will address concerns ranging from design to performance. Unlike the previous versions of these cars, MINI won’t be tackling these problems alone.

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MINI’s 2015 & 2016 Product Launches Revealed

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, F54 Clubman Hybrid, F55 Five Door Hatch, F57 Convertible, F59 Roadster/Coupe, F6X Countryman, Rumor Aug 7th, 2014 22 Comments

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MINI has a busy 24 months ahead of it. With the F56 rolled out and in showrooms, the brand can turn it’s attention to all the associated variants. But what gets released and when? Read on for the detailed list. continued →

Exclusive: MINIUSA to Launch Diesel Clubman in 2017

MotoringFile Sections: Diesel, F54 Clubman, F54 Clubman Hybrid Jun 9th, 2014 31 Comments

F54_motoringfile

It’s easy to forget that MINI’s largest market doesn’t actually get the full MINI lineup. In particular, the US has never had access to MINI diesels. For years, MINI USA has attempted to bring a diesel model to the US, but poor fuel standards, engineering challenges and finally economic hardships have undercut the business case for diesel MINIs in America. However, that’s about to change. MotoringFile has received news from our sources that MINI is in the process engineering an entirely new diesel model specifically for the US market.

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MF Exclusive: Photos & Details on the 2015 MINI Convertible, 2015 Five Door Hatch & 2016 Clubman

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, F55 Five Door Hatch, F57 Convertible May 15th, 2014 37 Comments

F57_F54_F55_MOTORINGFILE

Behold, our first view of the 2015 F57 MINI convertible, 2015 F55 Five door hatch and the upcoming 2016 F54 Clubman. The photo, taken this week at the Nurburgring where the trio were undergoing suspension evaluation, shows us just how much larger the new Clubman will be next to the standard MINI and the new five door hatch. Also noticeable is the different design of the Clubman S front bumper as compared to the other two cars (both Cooper S models). And those changes are just the start. Lets take a closer look at each car, the changes we’ll see and exactly when we’ll see each in showrooms. continued →

The 2015 MINI Clubman Hits the ‘Ring

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, Video Apr 11th, 2014 15 Comments

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Along with signs of spring comes MINI and BMW’s annual Nurburgring testing program. One of the first cars tested this year has been the 2015 MINI Clubman. As you’ve likely read on MF, the 2015 F54 Clubman will feature four doors, a wider chassis and an entirely new interior as compared to the F56. But enough of that, lets check it out in motion around the world’s most dangerous track. continued →


Exclusive: F56 MINI Cooper S Uses Active Sound to Enhance Engine Noise

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, F56 Hatch Mar 26th, 2014 74 Comments

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A few years ago I rode shotgun in a R55 Clubman and then a BMW 630d with a BMW engineer as he demonstrated something they called “Active Sound”. In the 630d the idea was to make it sound like a 650i. It worked… almost flawlessly.

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In the MINI we sampled what they call the “sound machine”. It’s a system that could change (on the fly) the engine note to any one of four settings. The system is tied to the engine speed and accurately reproduced engine notes as they are happened.

Fast forward to 2014 and we now have MINI using Active Sound to subtly enhance the in-cabin engine noise on the Cooper S. The option is only available on the Cooper S with the driving modes option – standard in North America. Let’s look at what the system is and how it works.

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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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