White Roof Radio – The MINI Cooper Podcast

MINI Cooper Podcasting with db, Todd, Gabe, Chad & Brian

Woofcast #97

We go in depth about Automatics.

Torque converter vs. DSG vs. SMG. I think we were pretty thorough and left nary a stone unturned. Of course, you are more than welcome to contribute in the comments below!

Cool stuff for #100/#101 coming up later this week. No trust me. A hint? Well, you might want to have a copy of this handy, you know, just in case. Full details will be posted at the end of the week.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for Robert’s latest Soundseeing tour! I have a feeling this one is going to be good.

Comments? Questions? Concerns? You know what to do, right? Comment below or emails us ([email protected]) or play along with the voicemail game at (206) 33-WHITE.

Woof 97:

Download/Play | Subscribe | Zipppppped | 42:23 | 19.4MB

31 thoughts on “Woofcast #97

  1. BTW, Why don’t you have the voicemail number on the contact page?

    I know you have it on just about every show note, but I actually had to look for it at one point.

    I know what you’re thinking, WHHAAAAHHH, Richard had to scroll down. Whhhhaaahhh, Richard had to click a button.

  2. as an avid whiteroofradio fan, frequent motoringfile contributor and staunch supporter of all things mini i first want to say again how much i apprecaite and enjoy my weekly listen to the woofcast. you guys are amazing at what you do and as you near show #100 you have much to be proud for. in fact, i’ll take this opportunity to offer congrats 3 shows early on the pending 100th episode.

    now with that being said, it pains me to have to launch into my next set of thoughts as i have felt such an attachment to the show and everything you guys do, but…

    your show on automatics – as much as you say you respect everyone’s opinion and don’t pass judgement – came off with you all sounding like a bunch of snobs. as much as you were trying (and beleive me guys, you can hear the teeth gritting and the eyes rolling) to be “fair” and “not pass judgement” there was such an air of thumbed noses and talking down to that i had to post a comment. nothing personal guys, but your show tonight (while informative on the topic of each type of auto box) had “holyer-than-thou” written all over it. i fully beleive that you had no intention of it to come off that way, but when todd mentions “go ahead and give us your opinions, you won’t change our minds” it felt like a taunt which begged an answer – or a smack. i can appreciate that you want to cater to your audience and discuss everything, but this is a topic which has never come out right in any forum. your opinions are made quite clear and i think anyone listening to the show who wasn’t familiar with your usual selves would have found it to sound like a bunch of snobby dudes just making fun of the automatic. period. as much as i wanted to love this episode, i found it to be more antagonistic than anything.

    c’mon guys, you can do better than to bait people and throw fuel into the fire!

    thanks for posting this as i know you have the right to yank it if you so desire. i have never felt an aggressive moment in all of mini-dom until now, so i’ll just end by saying that i will forever be a fan of the woofcast (no matter how much you push the button this issue!) and hope that this sparks a little more debate and a little less snobbery.

    muchos gracias – drew

  3. >BTW, Why don’t you have the voicemail number on the contact page?

    Um, because db never thought to do that? It has been added to that page. Did you notice that it’s also on this post?

    >thanks for posting this as i know you have the right to yank it if you so desire.

    Everyone gets the chance to comment, except the spammers. Thank you for yours!

    >came off with you all sounding like a bunch of snobs

    I think that was Todd and Gabe. 😉

  4. Thanks, DB! I did notice and that’s actually what reminded me to ask.

    I didn’t think you guys sounded like snobs. However, I’m on the manual side of the fence so I can’t be as objective.

    I do notice the conversations are more interesting when you guys don’t always agree on things.

  5. Well said drew and agreed as well. I think the question itself, auto or manual, has the inherent side effect of seeming a bit elitist and has never turned out in a good light in any other forum thread that I have seen. And Im sure no offense was intended. What got under my skin back in Woofcast #95 was the comment by db saying that somehow auto owners were not “motoring enthusiasts”. And if yelling at my ipod when I heard that doesn’t show my enthusiasm, then i don’t know what does.

    Gabe, I appreciate you being very careful with your comments as well. Adding the “for me, personally” at the end of your comments does make a difference for the occasional listener. Your opinion is well informed and respected.

    db, I appreciate you keeping an open mind as well. doctor’s orders, blah!

    Todd, very good comparison with the manual/auto camera and understood.

    Still a good show. I had a feeling autos would be the topic when you guys eluded to a controversial topic in the previous cast.

  6. Great overly technical show.

    I can’t remember who said it, but the “higher level of interaction and control” is the most dead on reason any car enthusiast wants a manual transmission.

    Now the reason I would personally pass on the very tempting, very fast, very cool DSG/SMG if it was offered: Because shifting gears properly and smoothly yourself is skill that I enjoy practicing.

    When I first started going to BMW CCA driving schools several years ago, I remember asking my instructor how often he heel-toes on the street. His answer: every time. And ever since then, I have done the same.

  7. In Mexico and Europe most cars are manual because of the economy, automatics are for rich people!
    I came to the US to find that 90% of the cars are automatics, I felt I was in heaven, part of it was the changed between Mexico City and Dallas (a lot less cars).
    The MINI I test drove was automatic and it just didn’t feel right, it was hard for me to go back to manual but in the end I am happy I did it.

  8. I think there’s an easy (and short) way to say this without being offensive.

    There’s no disputing that some transmissions give you more control over the car than others. And the difference is not just between automatics and manuals. There is a big difference in quality in each of those groups.

    Your choice of transmission does not necessarily determine your level of enthusiasm for driving. I know that there are a lot of people who drive automatics that are more into the driving thing than I, a manual driver, am.

    However, I must also say to those who choose not to drive a manual simply because they don’t know how that I think you’re missing out on a whole other level of complexity and richness of experience.

    Now, before you flame me, think about this: Would you be offended if I suggested that you try a chocolate bar flavored with chilies because I thought you might enjoy an experience other than the milk chocolate you’re probably used to? My guess is that you’d have one of two reactions:

    1. Chilies and chocolate? You’re nuts.
    2. Thanks for the tip. I’ll try it sometime.

    I can accept both answers, but I would hope that you’d choose the second.

  9. Matt gets comments of the month as far as I’m concerned.

    as much as you say you respect everyone’s opinion and don’t pass judgement – came off with you all sounding like a bunch of snobs.

    I honestly don’t get the snob thing. I don’t personally remember saying anything that I’d call snobbish.

    Gabe, I appreciate you being very careful with your comments as well. Adding the “for me, personally” at the end of your comments does make a difference for the occasional listener. Your opinion is well informed and respected.

    That is very kind. I’ve always tried to keep an open mind about these things. That’s why I tried to break down the argument to more specifically to focus on ultimate control and interaction rather than right vs wrong.

    When I first started going to BMW CCA driving schools several years ago, I remember asking my instructor how often he heel-toes on the street. His answer: every time. And ever since then, I have done the same.

    Same here. It makes every single mile pure joy.

  10. My first car was a 1970 VW Bug with a “three in a tree” transmission, manual with no clutch – loved it. The next 15 years I drove cars with manual transmissions, loved the control, hated getting into traffic and navigating hills in a stop and go fashion. I would have loved an MCS with a 6-speed manual transmission, if it was going to be my second car. Present day – the traffic has gotten worse, and I live in a city with lots of hills with stop and go traffic, and a brutal 60 mile Southern California round trip freeway commute. But I can’t afford two cars, so my one and only commuting, everyday car will be an MCSa, no regrets, no retreat (I don’t think I have much of a choice if I reallly want a Cooper),….that is until I can be “rich” enough to have second car with a manual transmission that I can drive on weekends and pleasure trips. Otherwise I was seriously considering a VW GTI with the DSG transmission. But I wanted a MINI Cooper. I’m glad BMW/MINI made an automatic for a greater audience with different physical needs and styles of driving. Also, let the success of the selling of automatics in America speak for themselves. When it comes down to it…automatics can be purely be seen as a smart business decision. And in the end, I still get to drive a car that says it’s a MINI Cooper.

  11. sorry gabe and todd – listening back to it again i can’t actually point the finger at either of you for sounding snobby. it was more of a todd thing (sorry dude – you know i love you!) but it just…sounded…snobby!

    at the end of the day, who cares? ; ) i was fired up this morning and it’s water under the bridge this evening.

    all the best – drew

  12. Good show as usual, guys. I’ve always preferred a manual over automatics. Not just because of the control but of course the expense. It’s very seldom these days that you don’t have a pay for an option that makes the car more enjoyable for yourself.

    Everyone is different in what they like. Cruise control. Something brought up several shows ago. I have it on my MINI but have only tried it once. I don’t like the feeling of my foot sitting there doing nothing. It’s a control thing similiar to manual transmissions. Some like it. Some don’t.

  13. Great show, guys. For me, being someone who has only ever owned 2 automatics my entire life, my personal car only ever once being an automatic, I can say that I firmly believe that driving a stick shift, for those which are able (this including traffic and physical limitations), is a unique way to really become one with the car. I don’t mind those who drive automatics, but I feel they really miss out. Those who have done both and chose to drive an automatic I am fine with also, because I know they at least had the opportunity to experience it.

    I loved the camera comparison, Todd, your wife is a genius. It was a pleasure to meet her briefly in Monterey this year. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better or more appropriate way of describing the difference.

    You guys do such a great job, and I have to agree that I find it much more interesting when you disagree, and even disagree heatedly.

    Greg

  14. Well, Drew and Matt have pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as the tenor and tone of this one, and kudos to a nice tech session, but I have to put my two cents in, well really more like a sawbuck – I’m of the class that graduated from the school of pre-electronics driving, you know, before the war. No, not that one, or that really old one, but yeah, an older war than most of you connect with – sure, cars had electrical bits, some even with a few transistors in the radio, (wow!) and English cars had Positive Earth – weren’t no practical way to run the coming elctronic revolution off a 12V Lucas generator, so such modern devices like computer controlled fuel-injection, (which does what it wants, nowadays, not always what you think it’s doing), or all-knowing rev-limiters, (red-line? what’s a real street car red-line today?) were only a twinkle in some kid’s eyes, to say nothing of fly-by-wire gas pedals, DSC, ABS, BFD, whatever.

    Back then, I was VERY connected to how my car interacted with the street whether I liked it or not, but there was no safety net, like today. You gotchyer 50 or 100,000 mile warranty – the manufacturer sure isn’t going to let you grenade that puppy in a stop light grand-prix like the old days, you can bet on that. They control the vertical, they control the horizontal. As far as I’m concerned, there’s much less connection with what’s going on in the average street car at a visceral level than ever before, regardless, so all this argy-bargy about which tranny rules is somewhat specious, IMHO.

    If you gotta go manual, it’s only one of many choices, but not everyone would agree it’s the way to MINI zen – I seem to remember those misty past days when the skill of double-clutching on a box with non-synchro first was highly valued – it’s a curiosity now. Seen the latest Porsche supercar? The autobox rules. Those who feel their skills in shifting are some kind of superiority should remember Poitiers, where some “had forgotten nothing, and learned nothing”.

  15. A couple of things.

    Gabe, add braking to your 3 inputs to get Steering, Throttle, Shifting and Braking. 🙂

    Take the DSG faster than manual hype with a grain of salt. Though the transmission shifts faster what they don’t tell you is that the GTI DSG has approximately 10% lower gearing in 1st and 2nd that accounts for some of the standing start performance advantages. Also there is a hefty $$ services needed at relatively low intervals. No one knows yet how durable these are or how fast the clutches(yes 2 to replace) wear. They are the best automatics out there but it’s a long time before they replace the efficient simplicity of a manual transmission.

    I’m not an “automatic” person but it seems to me they may have an argument that not having to think about shifting allows them to think more about their driving line, steering inputs, braking points and other aspects of driving that are necessarily diluted when having to think about shifting. No one would argue that a manual multi-level braking system would be pure or preferred. Why do we manual people argue that a multi-level acceleration system is? In that sense perhaps the automatic driver is the purist, especially if driving a CVT or one of the electric cars with direct drive and us manual types would be more correctly called traditionalists, rebels, masochists or cheapskates.

  16. Enjoyed the cast very much – was fair and balanced. One question, in one of your posts on the new gen, the description of the Auto made is sound like the current auto is being changed out – talked about all but first gear being “dual clutched” or something. I’m with you – the current Auto trans is not up to MINI standard – but is there a new one coming in the new gen cars??

  17. >the current Auto trans is not up to MINI standard – but is there a new one coming in the new gen cars??

    No. It will be the auto trans that is available now. We were speculating that there might be something new coming down the pike sometime, just not now.

    >First the Cooper, then the automatics. What’s next 16″ wheels?

    Easy there. That sounds like suicide mission to me 😉

    >If you gotta go manual, it’s only one of many choices, but not everyone would agree it’s the way to MINI zen

    I totally agree Rob. Looks like a run-off for comment of the month!

    >OT thought… When are the WRR T-shirts and ball caps coming? wink

    I’m working on it!

  18. Another great podcast guys. I totally agree with you in the smg vs. dsg vs. manual debate. I’m in the small category who will drive a manual as long as one’s made. If I loose my right arm, I might just import a rhd model ; ) I am a Mech. Engineering student so I love the technology of the smg and dsg but you just loose the interaction with the gear lever. There’s nothing like feeling for the next gear and popping it in right when the revs are matched (or double clutch downshifting and it sliding into gear like butter). The smg and dsg just can’t offer that.

  19. What I was asking about on a possibly different auto ttrans in the new get is this statement posted in Offical News, R56 on motoringfile, “The 2007 MINI:In Detail – where it states “Precisely this is why the automatic transmission incorporates a torque converter for setting off and a converter lock-up clutch closing immediately after the driver has set off – a sophisticated configuration combining superior comfort with a sporting and crisp gearshift. Should the driver wish to choose a more dynamic style of motoring,
    on the other hand, all he has to do is press the sports button to further shorten the electronically controlled shift times when shifting gears”

  20. No one knows yet how durable these are or how fast the clutches(yes 2 to replace) wear.

    I was surprised to read in the tech section of the BMWCC Magazine “The Roundel” that the SMGs are proving to be longer lasting than the normal manuals because SMGs won’t allow users to abuse them. The computer never misses a shift or wears out a clutch prematurely. It also shifts in a very conservative manner as a default when in automatic.

    Compare that to normal BMW automatics that often don’t last much longer than 100,000.

    Haven’t heard anything about the DSG though.

  21. been listener since episode “teen something”, but a full HOUR on manuel vs auto!!! what’s next 2 spoke vs 3 spoke (oh wait you did that!!) come on guys, keep the ratings up with some real news of interest. love ya ps. MTTS didn’t end when you stopped podcasting from your personal experience. I and 100’s of others had great time at Lime Rock..wish you were there..

  22. >”…keep the ratings up with some real news of interest….”

    Relax, Dennis. 😉

    Being one of the most commented shows, I don’t think their rating are hurting (especially for a free podcast).

    I’m sure there will be plenty of more shows to talk about MINIs and Motoring. I think it’s good that they’re spending time focusing different aspects of my car instead of just breezing over it. But that’s just the geek in me.

  23. >been listener since episode “teen something”, but a full HOUR on manuel vs auto!!!

    Yes, we did run a bit long on this one. Todd trimmed down quite a bit too (about 20 minutes!). But there was so much good info, we thought, that we decided to run with it.

  24. As an owner of both a CVT Cooper and a 6 speed manual Cooper S, I think both cars offer seemingly different but fun driving experiences. Ever since coming to MINI world 4 years ago, I have resented the “snobby” attitude of some folks in the community towards those of us who actually like and have good things to say about our clutchless MINIs.

    But hey, at the end of the day is all human nature. Alec Issigonis, actually refered to the manual transmission as the “barbaric stick”. This is from the man that crafted the original Mini back in 1959. Issigonis believed that the Mini of the future would have a clutchless fully automatic transmission. Going by his words it seems he was implying something along the lines of the current day CVT.

    So there you have it. Issigonis, the fierce advocate of the “pure” driving experience and “less is more mentallity” believed automatics were the wave of the future for his iconic car.

    By the way, I really enjoy the shows and sincerely admire and appreciate the amount of effort and commitment to put them together every single week.

    Hope to see DB, Todd and Gabe sometime here in sunny Miami.

    Cheers

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