2007 MINI Cooper S Long-Term Road Test

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Wrap-Up

July 22, 2008

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Why We Bought It
"More important than that, we want to know if 12 months and 20,000 miles in a 2007 Mini Cooper S (with the Sport package) will grow old as it did five years ago."

This quote, culled from the introduction to our long-term road test of the 2007 Mini Cooper S, sums it up. Mechanically this second-generation Mini is a different beast from the 2002 Mini Cooper S we previously evaluated in a long-term test. It's fractionally larger, a bit more fuel-efficient and better built. We hoped these improvements would replace our memories of the exuberant but rough-riding 2002 Mini Cooper S.

We've always thought the Mini was fun, but we wanted to find out if five years of development had helped the Mini become livable, too.

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Central Exhaust Pipes? Oh, Right, It's About Nostalgia.

July 15, 2008

During a walk in Dresden, Germany, today, I was reminded of Dan's central exhaust tattoo post on our 2007 Mini Cooper S. You'll note that the pipes on this well-preserved old-world Mini (ill-fitting driver door excepted) stick out, too.

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Headlights Too Bright?

July 11, 2008

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The other night I was dropping my friend off at her apartment in the 2007 Mini Cooper S when this car coming from the other direction slowly drove up to us. When I looked over to see what the driver's problem was, she said annoyed, with eyes squinting, "Your brights are on." "They are?" I replied, surprised since I don't remember activating them. "Yes. They are," she said while driving away.

I looked at the dash. Nope, no high beam icon. Then I pulled the headlight stalk to see if it the high beams were on. Nope, they weren't. Silly lady just mistook the Mini's xenons (part of the Sport package) for brights. Whatev.

I'm not the best Photoshop artist but above on the right is what my driveway (and that SUV) looks like with the brights on, the left is when they're off. When they're bright, they're really bright.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 18,058 miles

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Central Exhaust Tattoo

July 09, 2008

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I've never been a fan of the central exhaust on or 2007 Mini Cooper S, or any example of this layout, for that matter.

For one, it looks weird. I can't get used tot he fact that the central location is somehow too ... biological. At least there are two exhaust ports instead of one.

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2007 Mini Cooper S: First Service at 17k

July 03, 2008

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Eleven months. That's how long we drove the Cooper S before the service light popped on for the first time. At just over 17,000 miles.

Service was free under MINI's 3 year/36,000-mile maintenance plan. So when we pulled into Long Beach MINI we also decided to replace the cracked windshield. The service tech seemed to feel bad for us when he drew up the $1,400 estimate.

We'd have walked out and ordered aftermarket glass if we owned the car. But since it's on loan to us the best move was to replace the glass at the dealership. MINI required the vehicle sit at their garage overnight, and charged us $1231.67 for the repair ($725 of that for labor).

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Coordinator @ 17,386 miles

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2007 Mini Cooper S: High-Performance Hypermiler

July 02, 2008

Our long-term Mini Cooper S is rated at 26 mpg city, 34 highway and 29 combined, which is already significantly better than every other pocket rocket on the market today (actually those are the '08 numbers; '07 models are rated at 25/32/28, probably because those numbers were just converted on paper from the previous EPA estimates, which were based on the old methodology). And check this out: during a 60.5-mile straight shot on the highway yesterday, I consumed exactly 1.612 gallons of gas. I'll save you the calculating effort -- that's 37.5 mpg.

Now this would be a blogworthy achievement even for our efficiency-minded Ford Focus (24 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined). But in the Mini's case, we're talking about 37.5 mpg from a car that will rip off 0-60 sprints in the mid-sixes whenever the mood strikes. I think this could very well be a historic first -- can you think of any other car, past or present, that matches the Mini on both counts? Pretty amazing stuff.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 17,547 miles

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Adjusting the Seat

June 16, 2008

Mini Cooper Seat Lever - photo by Warren Clarke

It took a while to engineer a comfy seating position as I settled into the Mini this weekend. The problem concerned the location of the seat-adjustment lever. I wanted to tweak the angle of the seatback. The lever that manages this task is located not to the left of the seat, but to its right, buried in a deep, dark abyss next to the parking brake; I felt like I needed a searchlight and an anchor sling to access it. Making things worse is the fact that it's hard to fine-tune the seatback's slope, since the lever's adjustments are made in fairly large increments...Of course, once that fiasco was behind me, the Mini was fun to pilot. Pile in, turn it on and go.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 16,945 miles

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2007 Mini Cooper S: New Accessory

June 09, 2008

Over the weekend, I gave some thought to Kurt's last post, the one about our 2007 Mini Cooper S hatch's overstyled interior. And I do agree: Although materials quality and fit and finish are greatly improved over our long-ago departed '02 Cooper S, the cabin details are even more overdone.

Really, though, the entire car looks like a gimmick, thanks to the excessive fidelity to retro iconography. It's just that this happens to be the most fun-to-drive gimmick on the planet...

If I had it my way, the Mini would feel as raw and entertaining as it does now, but would look like the Volvo C30.

But obviously I don't have it my way. The Volvo likes to be led around by its nose. And the Mini? Almost the opposite. So I just need the right accessory to go with that big speedometer and those winged audio and climate controls. And over the weekend, I found it.

As an aside, the armchair mechanic in me wonders if there's some light wear to the 2nd gear synchro, as you sometimes get a "graunch" sound if you rush the 1-2 upshift. Also after 16K hard miles, the brakes don't feel new anymore and bite can be inconsistent during light efforts, sort of like it was in our '07 MX-5.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,577 miles

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Finally, a Service Bay's in Sight

June 05, 2008

We now have an answer to the question, "Will our long-term 2007 Mini Cooper S ever need an oil change?" Yes. In 800 miles.

The above text-and-pictogram now flashes every time you start the car, but only for an instant. It took me four tries to capture the moment...

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,479 miles

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2007 Mini Cooper S: Retro Grade

June 02, 2008

Styled. That's what the Mini's problem is. It's been styled to have all the retro cues that you can fit in a car this small. It's got a big (obnoxious) center mounted speedometer...

It's also got toggle switches (their coolness neutered by guards) and a retro-y font on the gauges. It incorporates the Mini's winged logo into the steering wheel as well as echoing that design in the climate control. It's got a huge old-timey looking gas pedal that was no doubt influenced by early cars which were influenced by planes. I imagine they would have styled in prohibition and mutton chops into the interior if they had more room.

The radio has been styled into uselessness in the most German of traditions; unlabeled buttons. Apparently, the buttons even have multiple uses. But I wouldn't know because I didn't bother to learn them. "But why didn't you just read the manual?" I can hear you cry. I'm sorry, but reading the manual for how to operate a radio is like having to read the manual on how to operate your toaster. If it was well designed to begin with, I wouldn't have to. But that's just it, it wasn't designed it was styled.

All of this seems a big stink to make about such a little thing. But in all honesty, if the car wasn't so good the silly interior wouldn't stand out as being so bad. I really like how it drives. It pulls hard, the steering is great and so are the brakes.

Let's look back then on the interior of an original Mini. To be specific, an Austin Mini Cooper S Mk II. Notice its distinct lack of styling and unnecessary details. Maybe Mini, or BMW or whoever, can style some of their styling out of the next Mini and let us focus on how good the car really is instead of spending time reading the manual to decipher the radio.

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