July 09, 2008
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.
And I also strongly resent the Mini's central location because the muffler routing eliminates all possibility of a spare, forcing the use of run-flat tires. Even with run-flats, I'd rather have a spare because driving out west involves distances that are too damn far to find a replacement tire within the meager mileage limit of a run-flat. Besides, the hyper-stiff sidewalls tense-up the ride and destabilize the handling on lumpy asphalt. I'd much rather have "normal" tires and a spare to go with them.
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
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 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.
May 27, 2008
Mr. Kavanagh isn't the only staffer who made a pilgrimage to Sequoia National Park over the long weekend. With a friend in town and the long-term Mini at our disposal, we headed for the selfsame hills, largely in hopes of finding one of those hollowed-out trees that you can drive through. No dice on that front, unfortunately, but we did walk around the biggest tree in the world (39.5 feet in diameter!) and saw a bunch more that weren't much smaller. It's a truly Brobdingnagian landscape -- you can't really conceive of how large these trees are until you've seen them in person.
There's another picture after the jump (gotta give a grateful shout-out to Austin, the aforementioned friend, for helping me stitch it together), but first let's talk about the second half of this post's title: Why wouldn't I buy a Mini like ours?
Two reasons: (1) harsh ride, and (2) demonic torque steer. Brian has already addressed (1) by advising prospective buyers to forgo the optional sport package (which includes upsized 17-inch tires) and sport suspension -- anathema on a BMW 3 Series, for example, but sensible here given our Mini's buckboard-grade ride quality. However, I'm afraid (2) is just part of the car's DNA. For whatever reason the Mini's engineers apparently thought torque steer was cool (unlike the Mazdaspeed3's engineers, for example). It's definitely not cool when I'm powering through a lefthand corner and the wheel's trying to tug me into oncoming traffic.
May 21, 2008
I think the Mini is my favorite car in our long term test group to drive for one reason only:
The thing is so dang easy to blip shift
I'm not as good as the others on staff with the finer techniques of driving, but I try to practice my blip shifting while in traffic and around town. The Mini has a pretty responsive motor to rev it up, an easy throw gear, the pedals are nicely spaced apart and the clutch has a nice catch point. It's so easy it nearly over inflates your confidence.
When you get it just right and the little engine is buzzing loudly as you come to a corner, it's a sweet feeling. You can almost imagine you're Lewis Hamilton speeding through Monaco...
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
May 15, 2008
Turbocharged engines used to have a unique character, a.k.a. "turbo lag." You'd roll into the throttle from a stop, wait a few beats for the boost to kick in, and whooooosh! The sudden rush of power would pin you back in your seat. Automotive journalists often had nasty things to say about turbo lag, but personally I enjoyed it... It was something cool you could show off to your passengers -- that Jekyll-and-Hyde personality was what made a turbo a turbo.
Alas, times have changed. More and more turbocharged engines these days are designed to reproduce the linear, lag-free power delivery of larger-displacement normally aspirated mills. Try the new Subaru Forester XT's turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer four, for example -- or any BMW with the twin-turbo inline-6.
Happily, our turbocharged long-term Mini Cooper S offers the best of both worlds: it's eminently tractable at low rpm, unlike those laggy turbocharged engines of old, yet the overboost function adds a furious and decidedly non-linear kick under full throttle that reminds me of turbos past. Boot the Mini from a stop, and you're thinking, "Well, this feels pretty quick but not exactly--" Whooooosh! Suddenly you're pinned to your seat and grinning uncontrollably.
That's why I can never refuse the keys to the Mini when they're available. In a lag-free kind of way, it reminds me of the days when a "Turbo" badge (which our Mini lacks, incidentally) virtually guaranteed an engaging driving experience.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 15,284 miles
May 07, 2008
Yesterday our 2007 Mini Cooper S zipped past the 15,000 mile mark. Considering there are still three months to go before it must be returned to Mini, I'd say it'll pass the 20,000 miles mark during it's 12 months in our fleet. And that means we like this little hatchback.
In case you haven't noticed, if a car doesn't make the 20,000 mile mark, it's for one of two reasons...
1) Nobody on our staff like driving it so the car sits in our parking garage like an agoraphobic.
2) It's liked, but has a flappy canvas roof which prevents its from being enjoyable on long drives and is called the Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited.
But back to Mini, which has yet to need a single unscheduled pit stop and never ceases to put a smile on my face. This car is dead reliable, stupid fun and it's averaging 26.5 mpg. If there's a better small car on the market I'm unaware of it.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 15,008 miles
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
April 07, 2008
My esteemed colleague Mr Jordan extolled the virtues of our long-term Honda Fit's small wheels, and it reminded me of something that's bugged me about our 2007 Mini's wheels (and tires) for quite some time.
It goes beyond our Mini's flinty ride quality and the tires' susceptibility to damage.
It's the look. To me, the styling of the 2007 Mini just doesn't look right with all that wheel... The New Mini needs sidewall to look right. Looky above--that original Mini has ten-inch wheels. And not only are the wheels on the early cars teeney tiny, but there's quite a bit of sidewall.
This is not to suggest that we need to go back to wheels that small. All I'm saying is the New Mini needs more sidewall. Like this:
April 03, 2008
If I could just write that for my blog and not get into trouble, I would. But seriously, it's the most concise and true explanation of the Mini.
Usually my choice for cars to drive is based the fact that a smaller car is better on the crowded streets for parking... Our the Mini is the best choice. It's not a compromise to be able to fit into the tight parking spots available to me at night, the thing is an absolute blast to drive.
If you're not holding onto the steering wheel with both hands when you accelerate hard, it's like a wild horse trying to get away from you. You can blip shift pretty easily and it's got a great growl for such a small engine. Not only that but the handling is tight and you can corner reasonable hard.
Save the reasons why not to like it, pal. If you don't get a kick out of driving the Mini 'round, you better check your pulse.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
March 12, 2008
Last night as a friend and I were leaving Pasadena, we took this long, wide speedway of a shortcut to get from the 134 freeway to Hollywood. Everyone seemed to be ignoring the 40-mph speed limit and zooming past. I was just driving along in our 2007 Mini Cooper S minding my own business when at the corner of my eye I saw this car hanging out at my passenger side door.
"Check out those boys...
They're excited that you have the same car they do," my friend laughed. Sure enough when I looked over, there was another red Cooper S with a black top, 'cept with a sunroof. The 20-something boys in it were excitedly gesturing at us through their driver side window but I couldn't really make out what they were saying since I had to keep my eyes on the road. Hello!
They moved forward a little and then moved back. "They want to race me...but I ain't gonna!" I told my friend. The road was tempting though. There was hardly anyone on it and it had nice turns and hardly any traffic lights. The boys kept baiting us, gesturing, zooming ahead and falling back. I kept my speed constant and my eyes forward. Finally they gave up and zoomed past. I'm sure if I was a 16-year-old boy I would have followed. But I'm not. ....I sooo would have smoked them anyway.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
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.
February 22, 2008
The roads were half-dried from last night's rainstorm -- dry enough to justify a quick back-roads drive in our 2007 Mini Cooper S before heading to the office.
There aren't many words I haven't already used to describe this car's handling, but suffice to say the Mini can be even more fun when traction is low. It still bites into corners the way I like, but you have to be a little more alert at the steering wheel to mind the tail. Damp bits of pavement, ruts, a little extra throttle -- all will get it wagging just a bit. Nothing dangerous, mind you. This is all play for a Mini Cooper S.
During harder rain yesterday evening, I noticed that the Cooper S has a rain-sensing function for its front wipers. Whether you have them in intermittent or regular mode, the speed automatically varies, so they're not constantly wiping at the glass when you're stopped at a traffic light.
February 19, 2008
As you Mini Cooper buffs know, the previous-generation S was supercharged while the current one is turbocharged. Before this version debuted and I had heard that Mini was switching from super- to turbocharging, it struck me odd. Granted, Toyota had done this with the MR2 -- the first gen had a supercharged version, while the second-gen went to turbocharging. But isn't supercharging usually better in terms of a no-lag, right-now boost in performance? While old common wisdom might've held that viewpoint, the fact is that today's turbochargers have virtually no lag. And I can vouch for that, having enjoyed our Cooper S over the long weekend. Of course, the power builds as the revs climb, and it's a thrilling rush that can make the steering wheel wiggle around some as the tires eagerly scrabble for grip. Yet down low, it never feels flat. Just for kicks, I compared the performance of our Cooper S versus the previous generation:
2006 Cooper S (Supercharged 1.6 liter I4, 168 hp):
0-60: 7.4 seconds. Quarter Mile: 15.6 seconds.
2007 Cooper S (Turbocharged 1.6 liter I4, 172 hp):
0-60: 6.5 seconds. Quarter Mile: 14.9 seconds.
Furthermore, the current-gen Cooper S has such a full-bodied powerband that passing on the freeway doesn't require a down change to fifth, just lean into it and it moves out with plenty of gusto to blast by those dawdling trucks and SUVs.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 11,770 miles.
February 15, 2008
I dig our Mini's wheels. Wheels are one of those obvious details that can really make or break the looks of a car. I think our Minis' wheels really up its sporty looks and fun factor.
In fact, out of all the manufacturers out there, I think the Mini had the best selection of wheels available...They might not be cheap, but I think they have the right idea of offering all kinds of accessories to the consumer to make your car more personal.
Cars can say a lot about a person. Wheels can be the exclamation point.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
January 21, 2008
I'm about two-thirds of the way through my Mini road trip, which includes a stop in Vegas in addition to Flagstaff, AZ. Time constraints have necessitated more time on the interstate (and less time on back roads) than I'd like, but I'm hoping to squeeze in a run through the Valley of Fire before it's over.
In the meantime, I've found new ways to enjoy our 2007 Mini Cooper S. The turbocharged engine was energized by the cold mountain air and didn't seem to lose a bit of stamina during the climb to 7,000 feet. As you'd imagine, I, too, was energized and I drove accordingly. Yet, the car still returned respectable fuel economy -- I got 27 mpg during my most, well, enthusiastic stint behind the wheel (totaling 346 miles) and 31 mpg during a more frugal 332-mile period. Our Cooper S also hit the 10K mark as you can see.
January 08, 2008
When learning how to drive stick, I recall viewing an upcoming hill -- and the subsequent stop -- as if 10,000 frothy-mouthed huns were rampaging towards me. To prevent rolling back, I'd usually rev the hell out of the engine and wait with nostrils primed for the aroma of smoking clutch. Sometimes I'd resort to the old e-brake pull, which is what I witnessed drivers routinely doing on the damp, cobblestone streets of Edinburgh.
Today, I don't have that problem, but starting a manual-equipped car on a hill is still hardly a treat. Except of course in our Mini Cooper S and other cars equipped with Hill Assist (I recall Subaru being the first to offer it, but I could be wrong)... With the clutch in and the car in gear, the Mini automatically locks the brakes for a few seconds until the car starts forward. It basically gives you a third leg and every car with a manual transmission should have one. New and Scotish drivers would certainly appreciate it.
James Riswick, Associate Editor @ 9,259 miles
January 04, 2008
Just before the holidays I spent a long weekend with a 2008 Mini Cooper hatch, the base model, with the Sport Package and various other options. I never cared for the base version of the previous Cooper. I was quite surprised then when I ended up liking the car -- to the point that I'd take the base hatch over our turbocharged S, even without the $3,000 price break.
Even in its naturally aspirated state (118 hp at 6,000 rpm, 114 lb-ft of torque at 4,250), the PSA 1.6-liter has considerable pull at low rpm. There's plenty here for catching the holes in traffic with enough left over to break the front tires loose if you're into that. I had to shift more often on freeway grades to keep it in its power band, but Minis are rewarding to shift, so this wasn't a negative.
There's also a lot to be said for the base Cooper's lack of torque steer. I felt freer to drive the car with abandon since big throttle inputs didn't cause excessive left-right fidgeting.
Finally, the nonfunctional hood vent: The base Cooper doesn't have one.
Where does that leave our long-term 2007 Mini Cooper S? I still like it and I still bargain for opportunities to drive it. But the base car is better than I ever would have believed.
Erin Riches, Senior Content Editor @ 9,210 miles
December 10, 2007
Something that actually irks me about our 2007 Mini Cooper S is how it requires a light touch with almost everything. It seems that every time I flick the turn signal to get in the next lane I end up using too much force and actually activate it to go off longer than I mean for it to. So then I try to cancel it by flicking the turn signal the other way but that just manages to activate the signal the other way. By this time, I'm cursing at the turn signal stalk and the drivers behind me think I'm off my rocker... The other thing is where the reverse gear is placed. It's near 1st gear so there have been many times when I find myself in Reverse instead of moving forward. This past weekend when moving out of a turn, I thought I was in 1st gear but found that I was actually in 3rd. Oops! So when I tried to correct the situation and hurriedly shifted to 1st I ended up moving the shifter too far to the left and putting the car in Reverse. And the car actually started to reverse! Good thing there was no one behind me.
"Yeah, it needs a stiffer/heavier spring for the Reverse gate," said editor Jay Kavanagh when I complained about it to him. The thing is I remember having this same problem in our 2002 long-term Mini. I'm surprised they didn't fix that for this model.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 7,993 miles
November 30, 2007
Yesterday our 2007 Mini Cooper S spent the day at the Streets of Willow road course -- parked outside the pit lane. To offset the lack of track time for our happy red hatchback, I took the long way up to the desert that morning. On my way out of LA, I turned onto Oro Vista Road in Sunland, CA, which becomes Big Tujunga Canyon Road, and then I turned onto the Angeles Forest Highway (here's a map for those interested).
In addition to the Mini's lively, mischievous personality, I was again impressed (and yes, delighted) by how well everything comes together in this car as you're going through turns -- the way the steering feels, the way the suspension reacts, the resistance of the pedals, the euphoric revviness of the engine following a smooth heel/toe downshift...
After 100 miles run at a fairly brisk pace, I still had more than 3/4 of a tank. Fuel range is just never a problem in the Mini.
I enjoyed all this on a crisp, smog-free late autumn morning. By 10 AM, it had already been a good day.
Erin Riches, Senior Content Editor @ 7,470 miles
November 26, 2007
The 2007 Mini Cooper is like a fun little toy that you love killing time with. With its peppy engine, it's just as much of a blast to pilot as an RC car. And its miniature dimensions -- which came in so handy during this holiday weekend of crowded parking lots -- only heighten this impression.
Unfortunately, though, the Mini is also toylike in one way that's a bit less impressive... I'm talking about its doors. Seems like even the cheapest economy cars these days manage to serve up solid doors that close with a satisfying thunk. Not so with the Mini. I found myself wincing at the tinny sound made when I slammed its doors shut. Sounded like they were about to fall off the hinges, and I swear I wasn't slamming them that hard.
Toys have their pluses and minuses, I guess.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 7,314 miles
November 14, 2007
You might have noticed that we've published a follow-up test on the 2008 Volkswagen R32. The lead of the story mentions California's Highway 178, and in fact I had the opportunity to drive that white R32 back-to-back with our long-term 2007 Mini Cooper S on the same route. It winds through the Sierras and dumps one out into the vast expanse of the Mojave desert.
Both cars are European hatchbacks, and the price of a loaded-up Mini Cooper S can come very close to the R32's $32,990 base price. But could our 172-horsepower Cooper S with keep up with the 250-hp all-wheel-drive R32? I wanted to find out.
The Cooper S is at a disadvantage off the line. The Ã¼ber-GTI R32 reaches 60mph in 6 seconds flat compared to the Mini's 0-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds. But in all other areas, the Mini was clearly my favorite.
Number One Difference: curb weight. The Cooper S checks in at about 2,600 pounds, which is an incredible 1,000 pounds fewer than the R32. (Our tested R32 weighed 3,547 pounds.) By the time you've reached the quarter mile, the Cooper's narrowed the margin, too 14.6 seconds for the R32 versus 14.9 for the Cooper S.
Out on the 178's twisty turns, the R32 certainly felt capable and secure. But the Mini far surpassed it in terms of driving enjoyment. Like a Border Collie, the Mini is lively and nimble and even a bit mischievous. Dull? Never.
November 13, 2007
This weekend, I put some serious miles on our long-term 2007 Mini Cooper S. Great little car. Spunky as hell, quick, a blast to drive. And despite its relative ubiquity in Southern California, people look at it... I zipped up the Central Coast via highway 101, past Santa Barbara and out to Route 1 as soon as I could. The Mini was a rocket on the highway and handled side roads with aplomb, even out by the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Reserve, where sand covered parts of the road.
We covered all kinds of territory, and the Mini impressed with its very direct steering and excellent power. High-speed highway cruising was a blast, and on tight roads through state parks, it gripped the road tightly. And whether appearing every bit its mini self against Morro Rock . . .
November 07, 2007
I have to admit, one of the main reasons I wouldn't mind owning a Mini is so I could wake up to this face. It just makes me happy. Ahhh....
Aside from that, aspects of our 2007 Mini Cooper S seem to be configured to making my life pleasant...
* Warning chime, whether I don't buckle up right away or have left the trunk hatch ajar, is a nice lilting ding-ding-ding instead of a high-pitched, frantic screech.
* My purse is still reachable even when thrown in the backseat so I don't have to pull a muscle trying to get to it.
* I'm positive that the Mini's cute proportions and appearance are why other L.A. drivers actually smile and wave me in when I want to merge in front of them.
* Shifting gears in stop-and-go rush hour traffic is painless.
I know I've complained about that uncomfortable gearshift knob, and the center-located window switches and speedometer are a tad annoying, and what's up with that torque steer....but look at that face!
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 6,383 miles
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.
October 24, 2007
After driving our long-term Versa for a couple of days, slipping into the 2007 Mini Cooper S was like slipping into a warm bath on a cold day, like jumping into a pair of tailored, high-quality trousers after wearing ill-fitting jeans...I could go on. But shifting the Mini is soo easy and I don't know if it's because I learned how to drive stick on one or what.
Every shift was smooth, things snicked into place like buttuh. I found myself taking long detours during quick errands just so I could get more seat time... "I wonder if that restaurant is closed? It probably is since it's 10:30pm....but let's drive by it anyway."
Also -- and I know our editor Scott Oldham hates it when we mention these sorts of things but tough noogies -- I think the Mini is really the only manual car in our long-term fleet where I feel comfortable enough to wear heels while driving it. I usually have to kick off my 4-inch heels whenever I drive stick. But in the Mini I think the pedals are high enough so that my high heels can hover over the floor.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,922 miles
October 15, 2007
I thought I would be safe from the wiles of the second-generation New Mini: The steering isn't quite right, the torque steer can be annoying, and the red body/black roof color scheme of our 2007 Mini Cooper S is not at all what I'd choose for myself. But yesterday I realized our long-termer has gotten to me. I never get up early on weekends, yet there I was, at 8:30 in the morning, still not fully awake, speeding toward some good roads -- just so the Mini and I could have a conversation.
We talk about different things every time, because there's just so much happening with this chassis and almost all of it's interesting. Also entertaining is the rapidfire response of the turbo 1.6 in sport mode, and I never tire of working through the gears even if redline (6,500) comes a bit early for my taste... The only thing that bothered me during the drive was the slipperiness of our long-termer's cloth upholstery -- I kept having to hoist myself back up into the seat.
Recently, I was having a sort of light philosophical (well, "philosophical" might be a stretch) discussion with another journalist about what it is that makes the Mini so desirable. What we settled on, I think, is that, yes, the styling is one of a kind, and yes, the driving experience is entertaining, but what binds everything together is that wonderful feeling you get whenever you walk up the to car and climb inside: anticipation.
It never gets old.
Erin Riches, Senior Content Editor @ 5,559 miles
October 04, 2007
As you might know from reading previously published reports, the turbocharged engine in the second-generation Mini Cooper S has an "overboost" function. When the throttle is floored, increased turbo boost pressure is allowed for a brief period, and the result is more power and quicker acceleration.
When driving our long-term 2007 Cooper S, I've noticed the overboost burst of speed on numerous occasions. I've attached a pretty cool graph from Mini's press kit that shows torque and horsepower curves for the Cooper S' regular and overboosted conditions.
September 21, 2007
It's Friday afternoon. It's TGIF, Miller Time, etc. So what recent Edmunds.com long-term car would you want for the weekend?
Limited to small, sporty cars, your choices would include: The 2007 Mini Cooper S. Our previous 2002 Mini Cooper S... A 2006 Mazda Miata. A 2006 Honda Civic Si. A 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT.
Or maybe the 1984 Ferrari 308. If you could get it out of Oldham's hands, that is.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
August 20, 2007
First off, let me state I love our Mini Cooper S. Loved the first-gen that we had in our L.T. fleet and love this one even more. It's small, quick, fast and agile. The ultimate giant-slayer on a twisty road. And the new one has something the old one didn't -- bags of low-end power.
The down-side to the feisty turbo engine is the occasional torque steer. The latter is the tendency of a powerful front-drive car to pull left or right when you stand on the gas -- you feel it as a tug in the steering wheel. Even some all-wheel-drive vehicles (e.g. the previous-generation Saturn Vue with the V6) will exhibit this if it's the type that operates in a FWD mode until slippage is detected...
Accelerate really hard from low speeds in the Cooper S and the little bugger will feint left and right, in spite of its equal-length driveshafts that are supposed to eliminate torque steer. On bumpy pavement it's especially noticeable. It doesn't happen too often and is nothing that minor steering inputs can't handle. But it's still something worth mentioning, as I don't want y'all to think my love is so blind that I wouldn't notice the Mini's faults.
Any of you other new Cooper S owners notice this?
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 2,777 miles.
August 14, 2007
I feel like putting a sticky note on the key to our 2007 Mini Cooper S: "Stop me from driving this car!" You see, I need to protect myself from myself. This car is so fast and so capable you think you can do anything. In a crowded space like Los Angeles, with so many moving objects all battling for space, this feeling can be dangerous.
I also can't believe how different this '07 Mini is from our 2002 Mini Cooper S... It was my job to buy that car (an ordeal in itself since we wanted one of the first) and it left me stranded in San Diego on a Sunday afternoon with my family when the shift cable snapped. So you might say I have a lot of baggage when it comes to the Mini. So much, in fact, it wouldn't fit in the tiny trunk.
For those reasons, I only recently had the curiousity to drive our '07 Mini. And what a difference! The old, supercharged Mini was touted as a bottle rocket but it never really felt fast unless you were willing to wring it out. This new turbocharged Mini has all kinds of torque down low. As such it's perfect for quick lane changes. Its pocket-sized dimensions and great visibility means you feel you can put it anywhere. Ten feet in between those two trucks going 70 mph? No problem!
Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor, Edmunds.com @ 2,429 miles
August 13, 2007
I haven't quite forgiven the Cooper S for losing some steering feedback in the transition to full electric power assist, but I came awfully close over the weekend. First things first: I found the "Sport" button behind the shifter (which "causes your Mini to respond even more sportily," says the owner's manual, via quicker reactions to throttle and steering inputs) and took the long way through the canyons to the Loehmann's in Van Nuys. Great fun... This car is just as playful as the first-gen new Mini with a smidge more usable torque. I like its adjustable attitude. I like shifting it.
Yet, just as with the previous Cooper S, I think I have the most fun hustling it through city traffic. It's light, responsive and unencumbered by extraneous bulk. And that means you can share a metered parallel spot with a Beemer.
Erin Riches, Senior Content Editor @ 2,388 miles