July 03, 2008
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
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
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
May 12, 2008
Remember when Donna reported that the Mini literally stinks? One of our readers guessed it was mold and after a waff of Mini stank a few weeks ago, that's certainly my guess as well. It's pretty disgusting and I'd much rather sit in a hot car that slowly die from mold spores being blown into my face. Anyway, before rushing to the dealer, we decided to take a holistic approach... I went to the garage, blocked the Mini in with another car, and then let her run for about 20 minutes with the heater on full blast.
I had the Mini this weekend and the stank has dissipated somewhat, but some still remains. I ran the heater again on my drive in (it got a little toasty), but we'll definitely have it checked out at the dealer. The problem with that, however, is Mini's service intervals are insanely long and we're not due for our first service for another 2,550 miles (according to the car).
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,220 miles
April 16, 2008
I had the Mini Cooper S this past weekend (I didn't notice the A/C stink) and I once again realized the vast improvements made to this car over the original new Mini. In fact, I'd venture to say that this one went down in only three areas: center stack ergonomics, styling and steering. Even the last one is a mixed reaction since the two-mode electric set-up is far friendlier in parking situations.
My girlfriend owned a 2005 Mini Cooper S and I subsequently logged quite a few miles behind the wheel in it -- including the same route I took this week to Moorpark, Calif... Over the craptacular pavement that covers the journey, the old Mini's ride was punishing and its seats would make my lower back numb. New Mini's seating position is much better (thank you telescoping wheel), the seats are far more comfortable and the ride is much friendlier -- although certainly on the firm side.
The best improvement, though, is build quality. Every interior trim panel on the last-generation Mini seemed to rattle and shake like crazy over the slightest imperfection. The blue dash panel on my GF's Mini would squeak so much, I would press down on it to prevent myself from going bonkers. This was virtually from the beginning of ownership. The new one after 13,000 miles? Nothing, absolutely quiet. Say what you will about the Playskool look of the dash, but they at least screwed it together well.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 13,692 miles
March 26, 2008
I don't know if you can see that in the picture up there but that's a crack in our 2007 Mini Cooper S's windshield. I saw it when I took the Mini home last night and was instantly saddened. I wonder how that got there considering there's no mention of it happening in previous Mini posts. There doesn't seem to be a point of impact like where a rock might have hit it... Did the Mini look a not-as-cute-as-itself vehicle in the face?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 13,194 miles
February 11, 2008
The Cooper S is a performance car, right? Feisty turbocharged engine, sports car handling, blah, blah, blah.
So why isn't there a temp gauge in this thing?
I flicked through the trip computer's functions, thinking that maybe it was like recent BMW's where you access coolant temp info. via the trip computer. No dice. Then, not being too proud, I RTFM which simply states that "A warning lamp will come on if the coolant, and therefore the engine, becomes too hot." In other words, an idiot light. We can almost hear Napoleon Dynamite's reaction...
February 04, 2008
It's hard to believe we've put 11,000 miles on our Mini Cooper. It's harder to believe that we haven't changed the oil yet.
We planned to combine a service with the installation of our new wheel. To our surprise, Long Beach Mini refused to perform the service. The advisor explained, "BMW won't pay us if we service the car early. You have to wait until the car's computer determines it's due."
January 31, 2008
Not too long ago, our long term Mini Cooper S lost a brief, but valiant altercation with a California
bomb crater pothole. The casualty, originally thought only to be a Dunlop SP Sport 01 DSST, turned out to include the wheel to which the Dunlop was mounted. While the wheel didn't seem to have suffered any structural damage, we thought it best to go ahead and pop for a new wheel.
When our usual go-to dealer, Long Beach BMW/Mini, didn't have one in stock, we tracked one down at South Bay BMW/Mini...
Being as I live close to the dealer, I stopped by on my way to work to pick up the new wheel. After a call from us the night before, the parts guys had the wheel set aside and ready to go. The parts department was friendly and the transaction was prompt.
Before I go on, I must comment on the parts department. As someone who has frequented many parts departments, most are simply extensions of the service bays; catering more to parts runners and shadetree mechanics than to the manicured masses. This place was completely different. They had clothes. Nice clothes. All BMW based of course, but some really stylish Formula One gear along with watches, utility tools, exquisite models (Didier Pironi's M1 ProCar, for example) and whatever else I didn't manage to see. Nicely lit with attractive wood floors, I felt like I should be ordering a gin and tonic rather than a Mini wheel.
So what was the total for one Mini Cooper S wheel? A credit card melting $550.45.
January 28, 2008
Our friends at Stokes Tire Pros took delivery of our new 205/45R17Dunlop SP Sport 01 DSST run-flat tire ($284.44, including shipping, from the Tire Rack) today, so we drove over there to have installed on the 2007 Mini Cooper S. Just for kicks, I asked the technician to take a look at the original, damaged run-flat. Evidently, the bulge in the sidewall, identified here with yellow chalk, really is the only telltale sign of the injury.
January 24, 2008
I was pressed for time as I left Vegas yesterday morning, but I couldn't live with the reality of not taking a back-roads detour in our 2007 Mini Cooper S. So when I reached Baker, California, I turned down lonely Kelbaker Road, which runs between I-15 and I-40 through an area called Devils Playground.
Evidently, the devil doesn't like to drive, because although there were lots of ominous rock formations, the road itself was a disappointment -- nowhere near enough tight turns for a Cooper S. There were lots of potholes, though, and although I drove with care, I eventually hit one. I pulled over, and sure enough, there was a bulge in the left front tire's sidewall just like that time with our BMW 330i. In other words, terminal damage to the Mini's run-flat tire.
October 30, 2007
When I bent down to check the tire pressure in our 2007 Mini Cooper S this morning, I noted that it has one of the higher recommended cold inflation pressure readings I've run across in recent months -- 38 psi. The Mini's 205/45R17 Dunlop run-flat tires were all between 35 and 36 psi, so I proceeded to the gas station to top them off.
October 29, 2007
Any doubt I had about my descent into Mini-nerdom was put to rest during last week's trip to Tokyo: I now get excited just walking by Mini dealerships. Like Mini Roppongi, which is tucked into an upscale block of department stores in this central district of Tokyo.
I was particularly smitten with the rain-soaked Mini One parked out front.
August 08, 2007
Even before the Long-Term intro went "live" (the green flag that allows us to commence blogging) I'd suffered a "Low Tire Pressure Event" in our spanking new 2007 Mini Cooper S. Without planning to, I conducted an impromptu test of the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and the Dunlop run-flat tires.
As I fired-up the 'Coop to drive to the office one recent morning, I was greeted by a large yellow low-tire warning lamp smack-dab in the middle of the dash. Impossible to overlook. Getting out to check, none of the tires looked low. Not surprising with run-flats.
A couple of miles later I was at the nearest gas station, checking pressures: 40, 40, 40, 30. A-ha! The right-rear tire is 25% low - the precise point at which TPMS systems are required to flag a warning.
I added air and listened for leaks. Nothing. It's holding steady. It takes but a few moments to reset the TPMS light using the mutli-function display stalk. (Note: many competing TPMS systems reset themselves when air is added.)
Since I had both TPMS and run-flats, it was safe to continue the trip to work. No problems. No repeat of the TPMS warning.
At Stokes Tire, the trusty local outfit we usually use, the source of the leak was revealed: A nail at the innermost edge of the innermost rib of tread. "Can't be fixed," they said, "too close to the sidewall. You'll need a new one." But their distributor doesn't yet have access to the tire, a Dunlop SP Sport 01 DSST in size 205/45R17 84V. We move on.
So we called nearby Mini dealer(s). All said variations of the same thing: "We can't get that tire yet."
A few phone calls later we found a store that said they could get the tire. It would cost, gulp, $330 plus mounting, and we'd have to wait overnight for it to arrive. We bit the bullet. Only after the tire was mounted and balanced did we notice that it was NOT the exact replacement tire we had ordered. Someone had goofed. Off it came. With no replacement tire available, patching the tire was the only option.
Because rotation through the contact patch causes distortion where sidewall and tread meet, this patch might not hold. But we do have TPMS to clue us in and run-flat capability to get us home. There's always Tire Rack, which lists the tires in stock at $275 each. Mounting and balancing will bring that up over $300.
How did I pick up the nail? Two words: Model Homes. Avoid going to model homes. Besides the clear and present danger of getting new items added to your honey-do list, the places are likely to contain nails dropped by contractors working nearby. But damn, it shouldn't cost over $300! Each!
Dan Edmunds. Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,318 miles