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MINI Cooper



  • I am about to order my MINI. Is it worth the $500 for the 16" tires? Or should I save myself the money and stick with the standard 15" all-season? Please help!
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    that the 16-inchers are the optimal setup for most drivers on the MINI. You get the slot-car handling without the abruptness of the 17's.

    Having driven neither, take this for what you paid for it.

    - Mark
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    I drive 16" most of the time. I have the 5-star wheels with Goodyear Eagles for summer use and the X-lite (V-spoke) wheels with Dunlop WinterSports right now for winter use. Both are runflats of 195/55R16 size.

    I've also driven the 15" 8-spoke wheels with the stock 175/65R15 size all-season tires (not runflat).

    The 15's are lighter and they soak up the bumps a little bit better. The 16's have better grip and better cornering feel and stability. IMO, the MINI is all about grip and cornering so I suggest you get the 16's. That said, if you are on a budget the car still handles extremely well with the 15's. The difference is there but it isn't night and day.

    As for looks, only you can decide. The 16's are my favorites but some love the 7-hole 15" wheels or think the 15" 8-spokes are an inexpensive, light alternative to the 17" S-spokes.
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    I echo what Hpulley said, though should also point out, you get lots of cool stuff for the $500, the runflats are a nice advantage that you can decide if you want to keep runflats later, also the 16" 5-star wheels are easier to clean.

    The car also looks in my opinon a bit more balanced with 16s because they're wider and the tires look less like truck tires due to the huge sidewall height of the 15's.

    Unrelated Comments:
    I just got around to reading the latest long term S review on here, and was a bit baffled at how you couldn't tell which end was which on the Fuel Gauge + Temp Gauge. Even in the daytime, there's a small red line at the botton line of fuel + top of temp. Also, by 'General Principles' the "bottom" would be low, (low fuel, low temp) and the top would be "high" (full fuel, overheating). I obviously haven't driven 1/1000th of the cars the editors have, but it seemed pretty aparent to me how they worked without reading the manual. Of course if you were to overheat or run out of fuel, the red line illuminates, making it rather obvious anyway.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    The fuel line comes on when fuel is very low, not just when you are out of fuel. Not much point in 'warning' you that you are out of fuel. The lack of engine combustion will likely tell you that!

    Similarly, I hope the overheating warning gives you time to pull over before it boils right out. Thankfully my MINI Cooper's temp guage has yet to see the upper half of the range.
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    Yeah I guess I said that wrong, cross referencing my trip computer, I usually get 60-70 miles remaining when the light comes on. I think the lowest I've pushed it was 30, for obvious reasons. My temp gauge as well starts at the bottom and moves to midway and then stays there quite firmly, but your logic makes sense.
  • Ordering a Cooper - my wife wants Auto trans, so considering it would not be an S model how critical is it to have the $500 DSC option?
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    If you are in the snow belt, DSC or ASC+T (I have the cheaper one) is quite helpful but if it is something you've never had then you may not miss it. Some people hate it and turn it off all the time. I like ASC+T personally and I'm glad I have it but in Canada, it is not an option (DSC is an upgrade).
  • John Cooper Works will be offering an upgrade kit for the MINI Cooper S. It'll bring the 163 HP Cooper S up to 200 HP. says the kit will debut at the Geneva autoshow. Is anyone planning to opt for this HP boost? or is the Cooper S already enough fun driving around?
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    DSC is a driving style thing. I don't have it, or AST+C and don't miss either, but if you like the safety feature + it fills in a blank toggle switch, its probably worth $500 and peace of mind, especially if it keeps you out of trouble. I'd think it'd be horribly annoying in heavy snow, but you can always turn it off.

    I suspect the JCW upgrade will be several thousand for what, 35hp, not exactly my ideal, considering the S gives you 50hp for $3K plus the better wheels + suspension. Also, most people on here seem to have coopers, so here its not entirely relevant.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    There is a JCW kit for the Cooper too but since it only gives you 140HP it is kind of silly. Easier to just buy an S if you need more HP. Other kits are also available for both cars from various sources, from chips, intakes and exhausts to turbos, new supercharger trannies, belts, etc. etc. I'd wait a while unless you want to be a guinea pig but there will be lots of good, tested performance parts for this car soon.
  • There are several aftermarket suppliers that have or will have a 200 HP Cooper S upgrade. Dinan should have a 200 HP kit available through the MINI dealer soon. This upgrade is not expensive at all, it consists of an ECU reprogramming and an underpully for the supercharger. These two upgrades will cost less than a thousand dollars. Supercharged and Turbo cars are really easy and inexpensive to upgrade. If the MINI dealer installs the Dinan upgrade your warranty is fully intact - Dinan and BMW go way back, my BMW dealer installs Dinan upgrades to BMW's.

    Actually the 35HP would be considered a stage I upgrade. Stage II will be good for another 15 or so HP and would include things like a cold air intake and low restriction exhaust for probably another thousand. I'm sure we'll see stage III kits within a year that will take the little S into the upper 200's HP wise - which will probably cost $4k or so. Stage III will include things like relocating a larger intercooler, and a larger supercharger, bigger injectors etc. Generally when you go to a stage III you need to install a beefier clutch and a locking differential (Quafe) to get the power to the ground, With a close to 300 HP S you'd want to upgrade the brakes as well - there are already brake upgrades available for the MINI. So you are talking a total of several thousand dollars (probably $10k)for a stage III upgrade done right. I'd prabably spend a couple grand on suspension upgrades (coil overs, sway bars) on a stage III MINI. You would have a MINI that would embarrass sports cars costing several thousand more than your total investment.

    I've been keeping a close eye on MINI S aftermarket tuning since they came out. I have an 02 turbo VW GTI 1.8t that I've done a fair amount of aftermarket tuning to. I have a total of around $3k in performance upgrades to my GTI and have 235 HP, 240 lb ft of torque, from an APR ECU upgrade ( Neuspeed turbo inlet pipe (70% more flow in) downpipe (70% more flow out of turbo), Eurosport exhaust, low restriction intake, upgraded diverter valve (for the extra boost). This also includes suspension upgrades of Neuspeed racing springs, 25mm rear sway bar, upper front strut brace, Koni Yellow adjustable sport shocks/ struts and an Autotech lower front tie bar. Also installed an Audi TT shift linkage ($30) that significantly improved shift feel in the GTI.

    I love stealthy little hatchbacks - my GTI is significantly faster than a 330 BMW and I can easily keep up with any stock Audi S4. Two friends of mine have M Coupes (99, 00) that I easily hang with performance and handling wise. I mainly use it for AutoX on the weekends but like to commute in it now and then. It is an absolute blast to drive, I especially like the slack jawed expressions on IS300 drivers that try to mess with my little VW hatchback :-)

    I'm keeping tabs on MINI S performance upgrades - a modified S may just be the replacement for the GTI someday.
  • dwabiddwabid Posts: 36
    My fiancee and I are seriously considering purchasing a Mini S. After years of econoboxes and practicality, we want to own a fun car. This week we took an S for extended test drive. What fun! After driving a supercharged car for the first time my wallet was seriously vibrating. But logic wins out. Before we move ahead I have concerns.

    1. Our dealership is 75 miles away. Is this supercharged vehicle reliable enough so I only have to head into Milwaukee for its scheduled maintenance?

    2. For those of you who have broken down, how reliable is the roadside assistance. Do they tow the car into the dealer over long distances?

    3. I am new to this forum and too lazy to r4ead throught he 1,200+ messages. What is the biggest maintenance issue with the S? Any recalls?

    Any suggestions for a Mini S wannabe?
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    The more recent cars have become more reliable, but honestly no one has had the car (especially an S) for more then a year, so its difficult to tell long term reliability. Generally people haven't had many problems on the '03s, so you probably won't be going to Milwaukee all that often, (My guess is you're in Madison?) but as people say BMW is not known for its amazing super wonderful toyota build quality, so a few things might happen, but generally you should be quite happy.

    I have never been stranded with my MINI, its actually quite rare, most strandings were due to the recalled 5sp shift linkage. In any event MINI roadside will tow you to the nearest dealer, and if you're over a certain distance (100 miles comes to mind) from home, they'll reimburse you for any expenses incurred.

    There haven't been any 'offical' recalls on an S that I know of, the only Cooper one was that shifter linkage (that didn't affect S'). With that said, there have been numerous internal upgrades, new pedals, new seat mechanisms, new boot latch, new wiring harnesses etc. which all should actually improve reliability. If you order a car now, it'll arrive around a year after the first S' so you've moved nicely past the new model difficulties.

    Be sure to check mini2 (my preference) or minicooperonline which have useful search features for anything specific on problems, but realize people do complain when its wrong, and the other 25K MINIs on the road don't post when they're working fine.
  • dwabiddwabid Posts: 36
    Stryder, Thanks for your thoughts

    Yes, we live in Madison so the trip to Milwaukee is no biggie but with any New car the distance gives me pause. I asked the local BMW dealer here if they were going to caryy the line. Based upon their very curt answer [ No ] I don't think they were to happy with BMW.

    Now here is another question for te group. How pliable are the dealerships as to price? The one we were dealing with didn't seem to care to whether we walked away or not. Probably knows that most people who say "wow" after the test drive (dumb, my fault) are going to buy anyhow.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    There are deals on Cooper 5-speeds now but CVTs and S's are still tough to come by. You can always try but the MCS hasn't been out for even a year yet. If you want to wait, perhaps they'll be dealer later.
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    BMW basically gave MINI dealerships to their favorite dealers, and only enough that the market was satisfied, not saturated, so BMW dealers that didn't get them seem to be a bit annoyed over the entire situation, but can't do anything. I think X5 dealerships worked similarly.

    In any case, as Hpulley said, price on an S is basically not negociable. International MINI seems to be one of the better dealers and thus sells at MSRP, but since the cars are still in high demand and the dealers are trying to recoup the cost of building new buildings etc, don't expect much. The best you can do is try and get free floor mats or some accessories, and be happy you can buy at MSRP, dealers on the west coast are still attempting to get higher with some success.

    In any case the 'perk' of the 70 mi drive is that your car will be more unique, I was in Madison over July 4th and didn't see one MINI but got tons of stares + questions, (Though I also went to Milwaukee and got stares, so I guess my theory is a smidge flawed)
  • dwabiddwabid Posts: 36
    Actually the staff at International Auto were quite nice. Certainly not high pressure at all, kinda reminded me of my Saturn dealer (other car is a VUE AWD6) and taking a test drive could not have been easier.

    It seemed that everything was being offered at sticker. Again much like Saturn. They also seemed to have a collection of MCSs' in stock. Apparently the order time has been reduced to about 8 weeks.

    Now that I am keen for looking for Minis I have certainly been spotting them around Madison. Saw at least 3 on a Saturday Looks like plenty of people are making the trip... Zimbrick BMW is probably fuming.
  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    I heard that the TV show Monster Garage will be airing a show in which they transform a MINI into a snowmobile. I think it's on the Discovery Channel, but I'm not sure about the day and time. One thing I know for sure is that after the 28" of snow we got in MD last weekend, I am curious to see this! We couldn't get ours out of the driveway until yesterday. Once on the road, the DSC routinely kicked in, which was nice. In the deep snow, however, it seemed better to turn the DSC off to allow the wheels to spin a little and keep the car going. I'll admit that this car is not exactly designed for winter driving, but all things considered, it really performed well.
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    According to the discovery channel its Airing this monday. For eastern time, that's at 8pm, I have no idea what other time zones do.

    As far as Snow MINIs, mine handles fine, I drove cleveland to pittsburgh and back last sunday (MINI meet there) in about 6-8" of that winter storm, I was doing fine, but as I've mentioned (I'm not sure here) I have snow tires, and I was only on theoretically plowed roads (a few inches plus some salt on top). The consensus (I know Hpulley will agree as he has elsewhere) is over 5" of snow, you can't plow it, the ground clearance is too low, under that with snow tires, you're golden. I lack DSC + AST+C, but it makes it more fun anyway.
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