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An Autocar 'First Drives' Article last year said... 'Our test car was fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission – a £1270 option – rather than the six-speed manual that comes as standard on all Cooper models. It really lets the car down because it's slow to respond and there's no steering-wheel mounted paddles for quick and easy shifts. So to switch gear manually you have to push the gearlever back for up, and up for down'.

I've ordered a new F56 Cooper Automatic without Mini Driving Modes or Paddles. The Cooper Automatic I test drove had all these options, however, I just left it in 'Mid'. It felt responsive, quick to change gear & very smooth. I imagine that moving the lever across the gate & shifting manually will give satisfactory results, though I forgot to try it during the test drive.

I'm basically seeking reassurance that the Autocar comments are incorrect, & that the paddles aren't a 'must have'.
 

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I have both and on my opinion the paddles are indeed NOT a "must have". They give you a glimpse of how super-cars are handled but that's about it; you will never be as fast as the automatic transmission and the manual stick's feeling is just unbeatable. I bought mine with automatic transmission for other reasons, like: comfort in traffic, better fuel consumption (on paper at least) and I simply wanted to try it out.

The modes on the transmission do make a difference especially if they are coupled with the dynamic suspension. I have a 192HP Copper S and the Sport setting is a huge difference from the Mid/Green. In Mid it behaves like a normal car and around the city I use it in Green. However, the fun is unleashed if I put it Sport, it really puts a smile on my face :D
 

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Like others I wanted a manual MINI, but for family reasons I bought a 2014 F56 Cooper with the automatic.

When compared with recent cars that I've owned (2000 Mercedes ML320, 2012 Honda CR-V -- both 5 speed automatics), the 6 speed in the F56 is much more quick to respond to manual shifting. When you're feeling sporty, just click the F56 mode dial from Mid to Sport, move shifter across the gate, and enjoy. The manual mode is great for downshifting before corners to get a bit of engine braking, and to ensure good acceleration out of corners. Having said that, when in Sport mode the computer brains do a good job of holding higher gears when cornering rapidly. I have few regrets in not holding out for a manual.
 
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