April 21, 2008
Various California Central Coast wineries were the destination for the 2007 Mini Cooper S over the weekend. As I'd expected, driving the Mini on all the back roads between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo was a bigger treat than tasting various pinot noirs. As previously reported, any curvy road is fun with a Mini. However, roads with tighter, lower-speed turns show off the car's personality to best effect...Higher-speed stuff can still be entertaining, but brutal acceleration is not within the car's repertoire, at least not in stock form.
Even though my traveling companion, Deputy Managing Editor Caroline Pardilla, and I drove crazy enough to make each other carsick, the Cooper S still returned 29.5 mpg over 600 miles. One thing I noticed was that the ride quality was a little better on the roads we drove (considerable time on I-5, CA Highway 33 and U.S. 101) than it was on the roads I took to Arizona (I-15 and I-40). In addition, the cloth seats never got uncomfortable during 3-to-4-hour stints. Cargo space was perfectly adequate for three days of travel, even though we both purchased wine along the way.
April 11, 2008
The above photo has little to do with this post. I was going to talk about the fact that while the seats in our 2007 Mini Cooper S fold down, they don't slide forward, so the space use is a trifle inefficient. . .blah blah blah...
News Flash: It's not a van.
What I really want to mention is the fun factor. It's such a little go-kart. I used to be annoyed by the torque steer, and the car's inherent skittishness really forces both hands to stay on the wheel at all times. (It's always a good idea, but in this car, the wheel really jumps, particularly with some solid throttle application.)
But it's really quite fun, and the steering is incredibly responsive. Formerly a fan of Sport mode, I am now a convert to DSC Off. Makes for some very enjoyable high-speed turns, when you can kick the rear out a bit. If I owned this car, I would force myself to learn how to really powerslide. Given an open lot and some cones, I might even waste a few sets of tires and brakes learning the power-park move.
Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor @ 13,628 miles
February 25, 2008
I've not spent a lot of quality time in our Mini Cooper so I opted to take it home for the weekend. I think my expectations were too high - the car is disappointing to me. I suspect the optional Sport Package is to blame.
On the freeway, the car darts around like a nesting sparrow and the ride is so bumpy that even normal conversation sounds as if both participants are pounding their chests...
If it were my money, I'd skip the $1,900 Sport Package (17in wheels, HID headlights, stability control) and the $500 sport suspension. Instead of paying close to $2,500 extra for a car I would dread driving, maybe I could save some money by paying a neighbor $100 to slap me around a little.
I could also do without the faux carbon fiber trim. It looks OK but seems very flimsy when you start poking around - makes a similarly priced Malibu seem luxurious by comparison.
On the plus side - my wife managed to get quite a bit of birthday party junk in the cargo area (rear seats folded down) including a small kiddy slide and a tricycle. The tall roof is another bonus. Installing a rear baby seat is easier than in many other small cars with only a fraction of the Mini's character - not that it's going to come up for most Mini owners.
Finally, If you're looking to buy one of these, get the S. This thing goes like stink and the six speed manual's gear spacing is nearly perfect.
Brian Moody, Road Test Editor @ 11,970 miles.
January 07, 2008
I've been lucking out lately with our 2007 Mini Cooper S in that it's been available to me a lot more for some reason so frankly I'm at a loss as to what else I can say about it that hasn't already been said. "Um, it's still a fun car."
But then I realized there's one thing no one has mentioned before: During the holidays when attending the various shindigs, I found that the triangular cargo nets in the trunk (sorry I didn't take a picture of them) were perfect for toting wine/liquor bottles to and from the parties. That way my bottle of 18-year-old Elijah Craig wasn't in danger of breaking or even opening when I had to carry unused portions back home. The nets hold the bottles upright and keep them from colliding into the other cargo you may be lugging around in the trunk... And, they're great for containing any other small breakables you need to tote. I had also used them to secure beautifully wrapped gifts that I didn't want to get torn during the trip.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 9,235 miles
PS: Don't drink and drive.
December 31, 2007
Even though our 2007 Mini Cooper S's backseat wasn't a favorite of my parents, with the seats down it proved handy for lugging Christmas presents and After-Xmas sales purchases back to L.A., including a cooler filled with holiday leftovers, a pair of luggage, and two computer bags.
I was skeptical about everything fitting in at first (why did my brother have to buy a Christmas tree?), but then I removed the partial shelf and slotted everything in like a jigsaw puzzle. Sure, it took some careful planning and several attempts to get everything fitting just right so that I could still see out the back window from the driver seat but in the end it worked. It would have been even better if the seats folded flat but we were able to work around that...
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor