Acura RSX vs. MINI

hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
edited March 2014 in Acura
Comparing the standard RSX with the natuarally aspirated MINI for fun-to-drive/satisfying to own attributes, and drawbacks. Comments from those who drove or evaluataed both would be helpful.


  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    and bought the RSX. The Mini wins for styling flair and handling, which is superb. It also has better fuel economy. But the downsides are many.

    Tops on that list is the fact that it is pretty much a DOG, especially if you use the A/C a lot like I do. Not enough get up and go. Not even close. It strains even in third gear with the A/C running, and is beaten by almost everything out there on highway run-ups and stuff like that, even without the A/C. Plus, the shifter is way better in the RSX than in the Mini. RSX brakes are better too.

    Also, the Mini interior is claustrophobic in a way the RSX is not, even though both are small driver-oriented cockpits. The seats are way better for fast driving in the RSX (lateral bolstering), and have a nicer material too if you get cloth.

    The little feature in the Mini where you close the doors and then the windows automatically self-seal looks to me like a doohickey just waiting to break a short way down the line, causing loose leaky windows thereafter.

    Something I use from time to time: the cargo space under the hatch in the RSX is bigger and can hold more bulky and longer items than the Mini's (with rear seats down in both).

    The RSX has a standard moonroof, something I really like, while the Mini does not. It also has auto climate control that actually works as advertised. I can't remember if the Mini has ACC or not...I don't think it does (but it costs less too).

    The clincher for me was the Mini selling at sticker when I was shopping, the need to order a Mini and wait for it (as opposed to RSX which was in stock), and the distance for me to the nearest dealer.

    Now, if you will mainly use it as a commuter car and speed is not a priority for you, the NA Mini might be the better choice for you, especially if you will put people in that rear seat moderately often. I bought the RSX to basically be a two-seater for myself, and very rarely use the rear seat, which has good leg room but a low roof. In the Mini, which is more upright, it is the opposite: there is very little rear seat leg room but you can sit up comfortably back there as the roof is high enough to do so. So if the front passengers move their seats forward some, the rear seat of the Mini can be a comfortable place to be for two people for a while.
    Plus, the Mini has standard traction control, if you like that sort of thing.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    I take it, then, that you purchased the 160 hp with manual, correct?

    In terms of the Mini's better fuel economy, isn't premium fuel recommended for the NA Mini, while the RSX runs on regular? If so, that would approximately mitigate the mph advantage of the Mini.

    Could you elaborate on what you mean when you say the Mini wins on handling. I assume the Mini is more nimble than the RSX, since it's shorter, but does the steering also feel better?

    Finally, did you consider the Scion tC, or hadn't that model yet been introduced when you purchased your RSX?
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    you are correct, yes, I purchased a base RSX manual. 160 hp.

    The RSX does run on regular. Are you sure the NA Mini needs premium? I am sure the S/C does, but I forget if the base Cooper does.

    The steering is more direct in the Mini than the RSX, with what feels like a quicker ratio. Both are good handlers, but the Mini is quicker and sharper to turn in. It also has less understeer. Body roll is a toss-up I would say. They have said the Mini has "go kart" handling in magazine reviews, and for good reason.

    The tC was not yet out when I bought my car (last February), but I have test driven one since, and I would not have chosen it. It is slower, and has worse fuel efficiency. Plus, I am sick of plastic painted to look like aluminum. It is a very nice car in terms of quietness and smooth ride, and you get a lot for little money, but handling-wise it is way behind these other two, even on those 17s and low-profile tires.

    The one (and only) thing I dislike about the RSX after all this time is the amount of road noise in the cabin on all but the smoothest paving surfaces. I don't remember how well the Mini suppressed noise, but if this is the kind of thing that might bother you, I would suggest you drive them back to back, try to find some old pavement, and compare noise levels.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • crunchcrunch Member Posts: 84
    All MINIs require premium gas and the road noise, I have found, varies depending on the tires. The run-flats are quite noisy, regular tires are much quieter and provide a smoother ride. Handling spans from great with the standard suspension and tires to fantastic with the sport suspension and sticky tires.
    You'll pay MSRP or more for a MINI but it will be worth more later so you need to compare the discounts and depreciation to see which is really the better value. I don't think that the MINI mileage is all that great. Our MC gets about 26 around town and my MCS is closer to 22.
    If you need power, then the MCS is base priced in the low 20s but can be optioned up to about (cough, cough) 40K !! with all the bells and whistles ( and a $6K tuning package). The base MCS is really a nice car for the price and can now be ordered with a 6 speed true automatic (no CVT) if not shifting is your thing.
    The RSX Type-S (very nice car BTW) was in the group of cars that I was looking at but the MINI won my heart on the test drive.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Both of your comments were excellent - very detailed and precise! I wish others wrote so well.

    Nippononly, your comments regarding the Mini square with my perceptions, but your comments concerning the tC, while not exactly surprising, altered my perceptions somewhat. On paper I'd choose the tC over the RSX, if only because I find it difficult to discount the value factor. However, your comments would lead me to assign more desireablity to the RSX than I would have before reading your
    response, since you buy these cars more for the "fun-to-drive" factor than the "most car/most features for the money" factor. I was particularly surprised that you found the tC slower than the RSX, since its engine has 20% more displacement, and, thus, more torque. Apparently, that additional torque is more than offset by the tC's greater weight, and maybe other factors. They both have rather short gearing, to favor acceleration over maximum fuel economy. Your comments about the tC's handling versus the other two, but particularly in comparison to the RSX, were very significant.

    I wonder whether Acura addressed the road noise issue in the revised '05 RSX. Too much road noise is certainly a deficiency, particularly since, while dimensionally compact, the RSX isn't an econobox.

    Crunch, your comments confirm my perceptions about the Mini, and how it could be more emotionally compelling than the RSX, even though the RSX is arguably a better value. Your reasons for selecting the Mini(s)over the RSX sound similar to why nippononly would choose the RSX over the tC. It's also significant that you purchased two Minis, instead of a Mini and a RSX. Based on nippononly's comments and yours, the tC wouldn't be too appealing to you.

    In my opinion the NA Mini should have been designed to run on regular, even if this would have reduced performance a little.

    FWIW I've read that the next generation Mini will have a new engine.
  • crunchcrunch Member Posts: 84
    I've noticed that quite a few people are sensitive to the premium fuel issue. It isn't that big of a deal to me. For the amount of driving that I do, it's about $1.50 per week in additional expense. A larger, and almost always overlooked expense on the MCS is tire wear. The car begs for spirited driving, which consumes tires. 4 new runflats mounted and balanced = $700 and up depending on the brand. 4 new performance, non-runflats (yokos or Falken) $500+. This is about every 12 to 18 months, depending on your driving style. I'm sure that a frugal driver will beat this but most don't get the MCS to drive slowly.

    As far as Toyota/Scion products go, I get the impression that all my local dealers are jerks. I once tried to get info on a Prius and was treated poorly so I've ruled out any of their products until they change or I move.

    I have always been a Honda/Acura fan. If they would build a version of the Odyssey, I'm sure that the wife would be first in line. (She would still keep her MINI though).
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    You're right, the incremental cost of premium isn't great, but it's the idea that regular fuel is consistent with the fuel economy expectations of those who consider the NA Mini a well engineered, sporty economy ride.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    "Your comments about the tC's handling versus the other two, but particularly in comparison to the RSX, were very significant."

    If you are an enthusiast driver, the tC is not in the same camp as the other two: heavy understeer and what I would call excessive body roll in cornering.

    I was interested to note crunch's comments on tires. Extrapolating from the wear on my tires so far (mileage at almost 16K), I would guess these tires will go at least 50K. The downside is that the stock tire is pretty crappy, the worst Michelins I have ever owned. Traction is not good - they are too easy to break loose even on dry pavement. And they are noisy, as I noted above. I am hoping to eliminate some of this car's road noise by replacing the tires with something quieter when that time comes.

    I see both of your points on the 87 versus 91 octane thing. With the amount of driving I do, I would pay about $10 more per month if my car required premium. Not much, I will concede. But certainly for a car like the base Cooper, which retails somewhere around $17K in its most basic form, I would not expect to have to ante up for premium, given the price range. I guess it's just the principle of the thing, since the $10 certainly wouldn't kill me. Now in a top of the line model, like Cooper S or RSX-S, it seems more consistent with the mission of the car to require premium.

    Lastly, as to the depreciation thing, Acuras/Hondas hold their value best among the non-European set, and even though Minis sell for sticker and Acuras don't, I am confident that they will depreciate at about the same rate (I say that having NOT researched how well Minis hold their value, but I imagine it is really well, given the cult attractiveness of the car and the fact that they are fairly rare). But you are right, hpm, that I do not prioritize the car's depreciation or initial value factor over other attributes, like reliability, fuel efficiency, and most importantly FUN! :-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Your thoughts regarding 87 vs. 91 octane parallel mine exactly.

    On the Mini's depreciation, it may be a little early to know, since it's still a relatively new model. Advertised selling prices of used Minis would indicate a high residual value, but I don't know if that's consistent with actual selling prices. BMW's strategy of managing the supply of Minis is certainly helping resale values, unlike, say, Ford's strategy of producing as many, or, arguably, more Tauruses than the market can comfortably absorb. The fact that the Mini is desirable, which keeps demand relatively strong, is the other part of the equation on residual values. It appears that Acura is steering (forgive the pun) a middle course with the RSX, which would explain why the RSX's depreciation rate (from list price, at least) is greater than the Mini's, but much better than the Taurus'.
  • willsiewillsie Member Posts: 3
    i own a 2004 mini cooper with the CVT transmition. i have noticed that bob smith mini, the local dealer, is in compitant. i have an issue with the engine bogging out and chugging while idle, at slow speeds, or in reverse. does anyone have any idea why this is or does anybody else have this problem? another problem i have is that when I'm on the freeway going about 70-75 mph, the passenger side door whistles like the wind is getting through the window or the door but everything is shut correctly. does anyone know what the hell i can do because I'm getting no help from the local dealer.

                                   thanks, WILLSIE
  • 5port5port Member Posts: 395
    I'm sorry to hear about your problems with the Mini. Dont expect to get much of a response on this forum...its not the right one for your quiry. Try the MiniCooper(S& base styles) forum or MINI problems and solutions.
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