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MINI Cooper



  • The Cooper that I test drove with the base suspension ("Sport Suspension") and the 16s had a wonderful ride, if you ask me. It transmitted good road feel while at the same time soaking up the harsh bumps. For comparison, I test drove an Acura RSX immediately after that and found the ride much harsher and the handling nowhere near as good.

    Thus, I've never really understood the press' complaints about the ride. Maybe the S with 17s is bad, but certainly not the Cooper.

  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    It depends where you live, what your view of the suspension is. My Cooper has only Sports, but 16"s and I drive around on brick roads fairly often, and on city roads (Cleveland) otherwise. I like the suspension, and think its a good balance, other people who ride with me think its horribly harsh.

    Certainly I can't stress enough in all of this suspension debate, just go out and drive the car. Its easy enough to compare suspension and power of the Cooper vs. S.

    People also tend to forget the runflat's have nothing to do with the wheel, and I think all new Coopers still come with jacks (check this). So you can easily get the looks of the 16"s and replace the tires in a year or two (they are performance, so they won't last) with anything you like and use the spare.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    Might be that all cars get jacks going forward but at present in Canada if you order runflats you get no jack or spare, just an empty storage nook (good for holding a compressor, etc.).
  • I have a problem. I currently drive a 1998 Lexus GS400 and I love my car. Its got plenty
    of power, handles well, easy to drive, it even looks good (to me anyway). But lately, I'll
    go to sleep at night and when I wake up there's a puddle of drool on my pillow and I can't
    get the image of a Dark Silver/Black Mini Cooper S out of my head. Over the past week
    I have read all the posts on this board. 1055 of them. I've been to, minicooperonline,
    even But I have never even taken a test drive - the nearest dealer is
    250miles away. Each way. I have only seen 1 on the road on my daily 30-mile commute.
    I now have arguments with myself at work about why the Lexus is a good family car, and
    the Cooper would be cramped with two kids and the wife along for the ride. Then I am
    forced to remind myself that I didn't buy the Lexus cause it was a good family car; that
    was just the excuse I used for the wife - I bought because it had a 300hp V8 and was a
    blast to drive. And besides, when its time for a driving vacation, we'll be taking the wife's
    SporTrac - that's what its there for. So why do I want a Cooper so much? After all, I am
    in my 40's, not my teens, and I am supposed to be sensible. Then I think that I would be
    having less of an impact on the environment by using a more economical car. Then I think
    that if I bring the car in to the dealer like I should for sevice, thats a 500 mile trip. Then I
    remember that I'd be driving a Cooper, and I start drooling all over again.

    My head hurts.

    So seriously, how long is the wait for an S - if I am not too picky about every single option?
    We will be driving down to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws (ugh) but I was able to weasel
    out a promise to stop at East Bay Mini in Pleasanton on the way back in exchange for a
    promise to behave just so we can actually drive one. I'm not really picky about the color
    except no yellow/no red, and don't need the sunroof, and I'm sure that I'll be replacing at
    least the speakers and probably the whole stereo system. The MultiFunction Steering
    Wheel sounds great, and I read at about a doohickey that will let you retain
    the use of it with a different head unit - yes? Otherwise, I think the heated seats would
    be a big seller for the wife, and I can't say that I really need much else. Does the driver's
    seat lean all the way back? Like enough so that I could sleep in it?

    I apologize for the lengthy post - its my first. Now I'm feeling anxious.

  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    Yes, the seats go all the way back.

    And yes, the heated seats are a GREAT selling point with the wife; was with mine anyways.

    The 500 mile trip _shouldn't_ be required often. The first service isn't until 10K miles and services are every 15K miles after that. That said, it is a MINI/BMW, not a Lexus/Toyota so the reliability may not be quite as high as what you're used to. My car is great but if you've read all those websites you've undoubtedly come across stories of some which are not.

    The MINI really is a car that you can't get out of your head. I test drove small cars for months and didn't decide but put a deposit on a MINI the day after I test drove one. I've had mine since April and I still love to stare at it from the window at work and look forward to the daily commute.

    It really is a unique little vehicle and IMO anyone who cross-shops it against other vehicles doesn't "get it". It's OK to want one and then decide not to get one based upon a test drive or reviews but to cross shop it against other vehicles seems wrong somehow.
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140

    The wait, since you're in the Bay Area (or trying to get a car from there) could be really long, I'd call around, but CA has the highest waits of anyone. Much of the east coast and a few random dealers (like UT I think) Don't have any waits, and have cars at MSRP on the lot if you're not picky, or you can order and get one in 2 months or so.

    The SWI-x suposedly lets you swap head units and retain the control from the MFSW. Never tried it myself. There's always the H/K option if you get a Dec build car, it should be around then. Rumor has it BMW's a smidge picky about you mucking with the electronics, so check with them, but you should be fine.

    The seats go all the way back, until the backs hit the rear seat. So they don't go perfectly flat, but you could easily use them for napping at a rest stop.

    If your car does break badly, MINI roadside will tow it to the nearest dealer for free, and sometimes back (depends on the situtation).

    I'm in my 20's, so that doesn't support sensible, but the car's so great, it can still be sensible, that's why its so popular. (Though honestly if you drive one hard, they don't get stellar milage). You can always get the trip computer to keep track of your milage and make you feel better.

    Enjoy your test drive, and make some phonecalls based on one of those dealer lists that are mentioned, if you want to get one quickly, its quite easy to fly somewhere or have one trucked.
  • Aloha Phil,
    Not having driven the Lexus, I can't compare the vehicles. But I'm 40 and a new owner of the Cooper S. I have two kids (4 and 6), and my wife prefers a manual tranny. They all love the MINI. Granted we don't have to drive far for most trips (45 min. tops), but the kids insist on the MINI. It is definitely worth the trip for the test drive. That's what sold me. I agree with hpulley4, it's relatively easy to cross shop when comparing specs, but the test drive sets the Cooper S apart.

    For the record, I prefer the 16" stock wheels, love the sunroof and multifunction steering wheel. I also prefer the leatherette to the leather (kids), and think the stock stereo is fine (good separation, treble and bass).

    My only problem (?) is I live on Oahu, so extended trips are out of the question, unless you want to do a couple of laps around the island. FYI, the only dealer in Hawaii has Cooper and Cooper S cars in stock and is selling them for MSRP, with very little add-on pressure. I'm sure there are other dealers like MINI of Hawaii on the mainland. Best of luck to you.

  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    The rumor mill (also info from MINIUSA) is the input jack is there for all '03s, however it needs a connector thing which should be available for dealer install in a few months. Suposedly you may be able to install it yourself as well if you don't mind taking the radio out.

    If you don't feel like waiting, you can always get a blitzsafe adapter, and plug into the CD Changer prewiring.

    Oh, and all the yelling is hurting my eyes, can you ditch the CAPS please?
  • thanks stryder! sorry for the caps. can't wait to get that connector thing. who needs a changer when you can have the i-pod. oh! and for the other owners out there, love the car for what it is. harsh ride? well, you got excellent handling out of it, right? not enough oomph below 4000 rpm? hello! 1.6 4cylinder supercharged not v6 or v8 supercharged or turbocharged for that matter. small? damned right, which is the reason why the car is so appealing. for future owners, test drive one and put the car under the microscope. know what you're getting into. for me, I love the car 110% no if's and but's.
  • awi1awi1 Posts: 9
    I'm 38 and drive the Mini, and the wife and
    kids love it. It isn't the best car for long
    trips but use your wifes car for that, thats what
    we do. Go ahead, take a chance!
  • After a total of 5 awesome test drives (3 S, 2 not), I just took the plunge and put down a deposit on an Loaded Blue S. Wait is 5-7 months in jersey so just in time for my Saab lease to end, and the spring and summer.

    No add on pressure, just MSRP. Salesman was real professional and knew everything about the car. Top notch service and a great shop too.

    They even had one out back that had been slammed head on by an SUV. Both bags blown, but occupants walked away and are getting another. Front was destroyed, but inside was fine.

    If you have any doubts, drive one and then go for it.
  • Is the quality of the Getrag 6sp MT significantly better than the 5sp MT Rover unit that would warrant upgrading to the Cooper S?

    I would prefer the base but I'm concerned about the reliability?

    Thanks for your opinions / experiences.

  • crcoxecrcoxe Posts: 72
    ... and I still love this car. We have close to 6,000 miles on our MINI and I must say I have enjoyed every one of them. There have been no problems with the car (knock on wood) and after it got completely broken in, the all around performance is even better than I expected. After reading the highway merging discussion above, I decided to to try a few things out myself. In mine (not an S), I can feel a noticeable power surge right around 4,000 RPM. From second to third, as long as the RPMs don't drop below that magic number, the car really takes off. Before even getting into the travel lanes, I'm at 70-75 (still in third gear) and getting into the flow is easy. This actually makes me glad I didn't get the S ... it would have been too easy to get arrested in that thing! (A friend got a ticket on a test drive - not good times). Anyway, bottom line is that, if you drive aggressively when needed, the lack of horsepower/torque in the standard Cooper is not a problem.

    One more thing, now that the cold weather has arrived, the seat warmers are coming in handy too!
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    "I just took the plunge and put down a deposit on an Loaded Blue S. Wait is 5-7 months in jersey so just in time for my Saab lease to end, and the spring and summer."

    Congratulations! Looks like you timed that perfectly. Also, hanging out here should help you pass the time.... We look forward to hearing about your delivery experience.

    To crcoxe- Thanks for the update! Glad your Mini is serving you well. Happy motoring!


    Hatchbacks & Wagons Host

  • Johnxyz,

    I've driven both on tests and found the clutch and shifter to be outstanding in both. From what I've read, the Getrag may just be more heavy duty due to the increase in power (makes sense). I went with the S since I have a heavy foot, like to get as much power as I can, plan on this car being a long term keeper, and thankfully could afford it. Overall I think either choice is a winner in my book.
  • Maybe if I read enough postings, I will find the answer to this but if you guys don't mind, does anyone know when the automatic will be available on the "S"? I just looked at one yesterday for the first time "in the flesh," and I think the fit and finish and quality of construction and materials is right up to BMW and Mercedes standards. The only thing lacking is an auto transmission, which a daily stop and go commuter like me needs very badly!
  • I finally got to drive an CVT MINI yesterday. I have a 70+ year old neighbor who's been bugging me to take her to the MINI dealer for a test drive - we got around to it yesterday. She wouldn't drive it since we were downtown and it was an unfamilar car to her so I drove her in it for the test drive. I was totally impressed, plenty of power, nice and smooth - she was impressed too, she ordered one on the spot for delivery the first week of January.

    She's been in the market for a new car for a couple months and has been checking out every car imaginable, her second choice was a new Jaguar. She could buy any car, $$ no object and she chose the MINI.

    One interesting change for the 03's is you can order the interior trim in Anthracite now. It's a dark metallic gray, almost black - gorgeous.

    Now I've got the MINI S bug again - darn it.

    The sales guy said MINI has been loaning various Cooper models out to SCCA AutoX enthusiasts. The fastest MINI on an AutoX track is the Cooper CVT with standard suspension - it's quicker than an S on the AutoX track, probably because it always has the perfect level of power available instantly. If you need an automatic MINI the regular Cooper with CVT is an eye opener - you could option it up just like an S.
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    Itchmay: The automatic in the Cooper is a CVT. It can't handle the power/torque of the S' engine at the moment, so there's no plans to put it in the S. Perhaps that will change, but I'd not expect it before '04 at the earliest. Did you actually drive a Cooper? I'd sit behind the wheel of it and see first before deciding you must have an S.

    OneBadMINI: I think you missed a small part of my post: Since my car's an '02, it doesn't have the AUX jack. You can buy an adapter from blitzsafe which uses the CD changer prewiring in the trunk of the car. It gives you RCA inputs, and the radio just thinks its playing a CD. I ran a 1/8" to RCA cable up to below the handbrake, and I plug my iPod into the system from there. You can get the adapter for less then $100 if you look around (suposedly the BMW one works too) Plus the cost of a cable, it could end up cheaper then having your dealer install the AUX kit. (Also the iPod sits happily in the blank space behind the mirror adjuster, and the wire runs back around the seats, so its nice and tidy)
  • I was looking around, and noticed over in the UK that not only are the Cooper and Cooper S sold, but also a model called the Mini ONE. What is the difference? The Mini UK site is really hard to navigate, and is getting me nowhere, as far as discerning the differences between it and the Cooper. Does anyone here know the difference?
  • The MINI ONE is the cheapest MINI model sold in the European/Asian markets. Differences? well, for starters, the MINI ONE has a 90HP version of the 1.6L 16 valve 4 cyl engine, can only be configured with a single color roof (Contrasting Black/white roofs are only available in the Mid range Cooper and top of the line Cooper S), the front grille is black (Not chromed like in the Cooper), it doesn't offer a tachometer, it has a WAVE radio (In the US we get the upgrade BOOST CD stereo system), it offers less optional equipment and generally the MINI ONE is geared mainly towards economy motoring over performance like the 115HP Cooper and 163HP Cooper S.

    The MINI ONE retails for about $12K/$13K American Dollars.

    MINI does not sell the ONE North America because they claim the 90HP 1.6L gasoline engine is too underpowered for our driving conditions and will not be of the liking of American drivers. Also MINI wants to maintain a "Premium Small Car" market segment image in the US and Canada and therefore the "Cheapo" MINI ONE does not fit well with that marketing/product image strategy and therefore we only get the midgrade Cooper and top of the line Cooper S model.
  • I am very glad that you enjoyed your Cooper CVT test drive. I am having a blast with my CVT Cooper and the more I drive it, the less I miss dealing with a regular manual transmission and clutch pedal...the CVT is such a terrific performer and it is so much fun!

    Why not consider getting a nice Cooper CVT over a Cooper S????
  • Thanks for clearing that up with me! I wouldn't like the ONE to be sold in the USA, because the Cooper here has its own special place that doesn't need to be cheapened up.
  • Has anyone purchased the extended warranty offered by the dealers for the Mini Cooper? If so is it transferable if/when you sell it? What is the time and mileage extended to?
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    The Base Cooper brought into the U.S. seems to have very similar HP/weight ratio as a Toyota Corolla ( both are about 130 hp / 2500 pounds ).

    The MineOne, weighs about the same as the Cooper and has a 90hp /2450 lb ratio. By comparison, the Toytoa Echo is 108hp /2000lbs! The ONE looks to have a meager powerplant.

    The ww Mini Web site ( has a good comparison chart for all three MINI cars.

    They also report the base price of the ONE on that site as 10,300 UK pounds or about $16,274. Not only not cheap, not a very good value either. I don't think it would sell here in the U.S. for much less.

    If it were being sold here in the U.S. - as cute as it is - they'd give the Honda Civic and the hop up crowd a good run for their money volume-wise.

    But then they'd have to also make a 'bullet proof' , ultra-reliable car and it will be a while before we and they know how the Mini stacks up in that category. Given Europe's 1980's-style auto manufacturing technology, prospects aren't very good.
  • Long ago I registered with's Owner's Lounge but rarely went... and when you click the ubiquitous "Forgot your password?" link, they want your VIN. Sheesh, even my bank's website doesn't want that much verification.

    Anyway, is there anything on the OL that you can't get at, say, Edmunds? Just checking, before I go out and copy down my VIN...
  • stryderstryder Posts: 140
    The owner's lounge has copies of the owner's manual, MINI press releases, and updates on MINI financing if you use it. Otherwise at last check there's lots of plans for future features + pictures, but thats about it.

    I found it useful when I was tracking my order, but haven't really gone back much.
  • Since one of the main purposes of my MINI (if I get one) would be to Autocross it at SCCA events, it may make sense to get a CVT instead of an S. I plan on looking into it after the holidays. It sure would make AutoX a lot easier to just have to mash the gas and the brake and not have the extra complication of finding the perfect gear too. I plan on going in for a more thorough test drive of a CVT. I need to investigate how much extra power that CVT can handle too. It appears that I can upgrade a base MINI engine to about 140 - 150 HP without a lot of expense or effort. Basically cold air intake, ECU chip and low restriction exhaust. I'd still upgrade the suspension a little - all told a lot less work than I've had to do to my GTI to make it track ready. Although the same engine mods in my GTI resulted in 240 HP. It would be a hoot to have a CVT MINI as an alternate track car.
  • revdrluvrevdrluv Posts: 417
    "It sure would make AutoX a lot easier to just have to mash the gas and the brake and not have the extra complication of finding the perfect gear too." Well maybe, but the reason most autocross is because they like the connection between man and machine. CVT kind of takes away a huge part of that experience.
This discussion has been closed.