2007 MINI Cooper Long Term Road Test


2007 Mini Cooper S: Complaint by Numbers

September 07, 2007

2007 Mini Cooper S Interior -- Photo by Scott Jacobs

I love the new Mini. The engine is superb, the seats no longer make my lower back go numb, and it's still an absolute hoot to drive. But the interior irks me. I think the design in terms of aesthetics is better than the old one (I'm actually OK with the center-mounted speedo), but look up "form over function" on Wikipedia and a picture of the Mini's center stack will be displayed along with some inaccurate information. Also, there are several basic features that should be standard, but aren't.

So let's play a little game I call complaint by numbers.

1) The volume knob is here. The radio controls are located at No. 2, about five inches away. How did this make sense to anybody? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if we had ordered the multifunction steering wheel, but we didn't. I've driven this car a lot, yet when going to turn up the volume I still reach for...

2) iDrive Jr. This little knob controls too many features, and trying to use the thing while the stiff suspension clips and clops over rough pavement is a delicate act that should only be attempted by tattoo artists. They should have fit more buttons into the huge speedometer space, killed iDrive Jr., and moved the volume knob where it belongs.

3) Oh cute, the manual HVAC controls are shaped like the Mini logo. Too bad they're ergonomically stupid. The most frequently adjusted functions (fan speed and temperature) are operated by thumb wheels that require a very awkward thumb movement to operate. The automatic climate control unit improves things somewhat.

4) Our Mini doesn't have cruise control. Yes, we didn't order it, but it's absolutely ridiculous that it isn't standard. It's also not a stand-alone option, you have to order it with the $1,400 Premium Package that includes the dual-pane sunroof, automatic climate control and multifunction steering wheel. Cruise is standard on the Honda Fit Sport and Nissan Versa SL. ****

5) At least we ordered heated seats for a car that will spend 93.4 percent of its life in Southern California. Go figure.

James Riswick, Associate Editor @ 3,736 miles

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