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Old 17th April 2006, 09:56   #1
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Default Driven: Mini Cooper S!

Make and Model : Mini Cooper S
Model Year : 2006
Kms Done: 12,800kms (approx)
Story: Traded in for a 2007 VW GTI DSG.

On February 15, 2006, a black Mini Cooper S drove into the parking lot of our showroom and in walked the owner asking me about the upcoming VW GTI. Exactly 2 months later, we delivered a spanking new Candy White VW GTI DSG and got this fun little car as a trade in. This Mini Cooper S is a car bought 5 months back and had done just 12,800 kms approx. and it was traded in for a GTI. Call the owner crazy or a VW fanatic but this is what he did. In fact, the Mini is still waiting for it's first service! All of this worked to my benefit though since I got to test drive a car that was right up there in my list of cars that just HAD to be driven.



The Mini is like the VW Beetle. Modernizing these cars is all fine but the manufacturers have to ensure that they don't end up modernizing them so much that these cars lose their soul. After all both the Beetle and the Mini are not just cars but automotive icons. The good thing is both VW and BMW were successful in their make overs. The Mini surprisingly looks very masculine and macho yet retains the old world design that made it a classic. Sitting inside the first thing is noticed was how sharply squarish the windshield was. Very old worldish. Inside the car is pretty spacious although it doesn't look like one from the outside. The doors are nice and beefy and the seats are awesome. They had the right amount of grip, lumbar support and even had adequate under thigh support. And the cabin is nice and airy too. Getting into the perfect driving position is easy too. Just plonk yourself in and you are right there. I loved the steering which was nice and meaty to hold and the tacho with the integrated electronic speedo is attached to the steering so it moves with the tilt telescopic adjustment of the steering. Very neat indeed.




The interiors are very retro and thats a good thing! I loved the toggle switches for the power windows and the stability control. Ergonomics were spot on and every control was easy and within reach but the standard stereo disappointed big time. The centrally located speedo wasn't as much of a bother as i thought it would be, maybe because it's a bloody big speedo and the moment you glimpse away from the road, your eyes automatically will see the speedo! But the electronic speedo in the tacho right in front of the drivers eyes is a very well thought out feature indeed.



The 1.6L Supercharged 168Hp engine was smooth and refined at start up. It's barely audible at idle but BMW have given the car a very throaty exhaust note that delights as revs build up. I adjusted the seats and steering, pushed the automatic transmission in tiptronic and off I went. The car was equipped with paddle shifters and this is where it took me a little while to understand what was going on and frankly I think it's a bad design that BMW made and I am not sure if this design is Mini specific or it's the same on BMW's too. Every car has two paddles. The left one (minus) is for downshifting and the right one (plus) is for upshifting. As I started to drive, I tapped the right paddle and upshifted smoothly till 5 gear. Cruising along at 50kmph, I was coming upto a traffic light when i tapped the left paddle and the car didn't downshift. Foxed, I didn't know why it was happening but then the transmission downshifted automatically as my speeds dropped. Driving along again, this time, I tapped the right paddles upto 5th gear and then kept tapping the left paddle but the car just refused to downshift from fifth. Ok this wasn't going smoothly now and I started to fiddle around and tapped the right paddle away from me and voila! The car downshifted! You can use either of the paddles to up and downshift. Tap it towards you to upshift and away from you to downshift. Sounds fine but tapping the paddle away is not as ergonomic as tapping it towards you and the paddles are attached to the steering so they turn with the steering and try downshifting (tap away) when on a curve and you will know what I am talking about. Give me the left (minus) to downshift and right (plus) to upshift design over this anyday. Anyway, the engine has lot of grunt. The exhaust note is lovely too. Tap the accelarator and the car goes whoosh! The supercharged engine with the sharp, crisp steering and taut suspension gives a lot of feedback and fun to the driver. I took the car to the back of our dealership where the parking lot is relatively empty and did a few fast turn in's and the car was so much fun to throw around. It felt like a little go cart! Highway performance was good too. The 168Hp engine will take you to triple digit speeds in no time and thanks to the supercharger it didn't feel like it was running out of breath even at 145kmph. And for a little car like that, it was amazingly stable and solid at 140kmph. Refinement was top notch too. There was absolutely no wind noise around the sharply squared windshield. And the engine and exhaust notes were so raspy that I actually switched off the stereo to listen to the growl of the Mini's engine.



So any rants against the car? Yes, I have two of them. I already mentioned about the paddle shifting design and worse then that was the ride quality. There was a thread on this forum about BMW planning to bring in the Mini to India. If they really want to do that, they have to sort out the ride. Every minute particle on the road was felt inside the cabin and I am serious. Every time the car went over any minor disturbance on the road the cabin shuddered inside. The car actually shook when I went over a few manholes and even on the smooth highway's any minor joint was felt inside and every time I hit a pothole (yes even Toronto has them, luckily on on city roads though!) the car shook, the cabin shudderd and I shook in the seats. I don't think the problem is in the suspension. The car comes with Run Flat Tyres as standard and I am almost sure these run flats are the real culprits. Trust me the ride was really bone jarring!

Likes : Design, Interiors, Space, Seats, Engine, handling, Steering, Driving dynamics, Meaty controls.

Dislikes : Paddle shifter design, Ride quality, Price.

I, personally, like cars that talk back to me, that are alive and that have a soul. The Mini is a car like that and cost aside, I am willing to live with that bone jarring ride too. I like to buy cars that make me smile. The Beelte and the Mini managed to do that.

Last edited by amit : 17th April 2006 at 10:16.
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Old 17th April 2006, 10:18   #2
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Amit, you are one lucky guy, I am so jealous of you. I have had the opportunity to sit in a Mini Cooper S at the Melb Motor Show last year.... but not to drive it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amit
This Mini Cooper S is a car bought 5 months back and had done just 12,800 kms approx.
13k kms in just 5 months..... no wonder he wanted a GT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amit
Give me the left (minus) to downshift and right (plus) to upshift design over this anyday.
Agree with you on this one. Pushing the paddle can to downshift can be a pain.
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Old 18th April 2006, 00:10   #3
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ahh...the mini S ... quite a car man ... quite a classic in its own right !!! lucky u ... wish cars like these could hit our shores.

Last edited by Fiero : 18th April 2006 at 00:12.
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Old 18th April 2006, 07:00   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiero
ahh...the mini S ... quite a car man ... quite a classic in its own right !!! lucky u ... wish cars like these could hit our shores.
hey Fiero, your dreams have been answered..... I read recently that the Mini Cooper will be launched in India around Early 2008 and prices start at 18 lakhs.
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Old 18th April 2006, 07:40   #5
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Good review amit. the regular NA version has a much better ride.
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Old 18th April 2006, 13:03   #6
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I love the mini s...............a friends cousin owns it abroad.........never driven it though..............
insanely jealous of you at the moment.......
great write up and pics though
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Old 18th April 2006, 23:48   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S@~+#0$#
hey Fiero, your dreams have been answered..... I read recently that the Mini Cooper will be launched in India around Early 2008 and prices start at 18 lakhs.
well thats nice !! maybe ill get to drive one in india someday
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Old 20th April 2006, 13:14   #8
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Nice review...

I've really started liking the Mini after watchin the movie ' Italian Job'. They do some really neat stunts in it..
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Old 13th May 2006, 09:54   #9
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Congrats. Mini S is one of the most fun cars you can buy for that money
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Old 13th May 2006, 10:50   #10
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The pics are abit overxposed, why dotn u fix them up in Photoshop?

Really nice writeup, you are one lucky guy!!
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Old 13th May 2006, 14:17   #11
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Well Amit what can i say except....
U LUCKY DOG U!!
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Old 13th May 2006, 14:52   #12
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A nice car to gift to gift ur wife,anyday.
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Old 14th May 2006, 22:52   #13
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Sexy CAr... LUcky you!!..

Its the 2nd highest on my wish list... will have htem some day!,.. the top honours of course goes to the VW Beetle!!
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Old 17th May 2006, 16:22   #14
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You Lucky Chap. I had seen it in China Once but never got a chance to get inside. It was a yellow colored one and looks were awsome.
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Old 18th May 2006, 17:14   #15
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I must say you are so lucky..

its my dream car..i like it for the power it has..

saw it in couple of movies like the "Italian job" and was totally impressed by its power..
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