2005 MCS MotoringFile Review


Recently I had a chance to take a 2005 MCS out for few hot laps around the neighborhood circuit and found a lot to like. However instead of a typical review which we've all read over and over again I thought I'd instead focus mostly on the differences from the previous MINIs that are on the roads today.


First the details…

Visually the new additions to the car are pretty impressive. The lights for instance, are absolutely stunning. If you're a fan of them, pictures just don't do any justice to the look and overall effect they create.

The red/black leather/cloth seats are also a fantastic option. They not only look great but they also grip better than leatherette or leather and stay cooler in the summer. The leather on the corners really gives them a luxurious feel.

The new sunvisor is effective and the passenger side grab-handle is a welcome addition. The new LED lights in the door handles and near the rear view mirror also up the cool factor a bit. Oh and the larger rearview mirror is also nice to see.


The anthracite headliner does make the car feel a little more sporty and would probably be on my spec sheet if I were ordering a car today. Of course since it's going away within weeks most of us in the US won't have the opportunity to experience it regardless.

In an unwelcome change the rear spray nozzle for cleaning the back windows is now fixed and cannot be turned around for surprise blasts at tailgaters.

Now onto the driving…

All those with the '02-'04 MCS shouldn't sweat not having the extra power that's in the '05 MCS. It's a subtle change that, taken alone, probably isn't worth upgrading for. However the extra power combined with the new gearing make for a noticable difference in acceleration.

Something else that isn't subtle about the new car is the sound of the exhaust back pressure… it's fantastic! Actually it sounds similar to my Remus exhaust when you back off the accelerator (although not as deep). I can imagine that those unaware of what the sound is might be a bit concerned when they first hear it. Actually, at first I was taken aback to be honest. I can't believe MINI had the guts to dial in as much as they did of the effect. My hat's off to them – it sounds fantastic and adds to the sporting nature of the car. It's even better with no roof over your head!

The sum of these changes gives the 2005 MCS a unique feel. While my early build '02 Cooper has held up very well the '05 MINI is a noticeable step-up in both build quality and refinement. That coupled with the new options, better gearing, and more power make this simply the best new MINI ever made.

Written By: MF Staff

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Terry – questions like that are best asked on forums such as MINI2 or North American Motoring.

  • maria

    i just ordered a new 05 mcs, and i wont get it until june. is that how long everyone else waited for their cooper?(i live in germany)

  • http://michaelstuartco.com nigel

    Just ordered my 05 MCS black with black and tan interior told 8 weeks delivery,can't wait to try it as it was my first car in 1965. So nice to hear all the good comments, Oh and I did order the dark gray headliner which is still listed in Canada

  • Andy

    Picking up an '05 Hyper Blue MCS on October 11th. The wait is excruciating.

    Would someone kindly describe the details of the '05 MINI's interior lighting?

    Also, what does the LED cascade lighting look like?


  • Melanie

    I haven't been this excited about a car since the car I had when I first learned to drive – a 1968 TR-250. I absolutely adore my '96 AUDI A4 Quattro, but it does have 180,000 miles on it, and with my 110 mile commute that combination is not going to hold out forever. After a fabulous test drive here in SF 2 weeks ago, I am now not-so-patiently waiting for Santa to bring me my own shiny red sleigh – a Chili Red MCS Cabrio done a la rallye style. It will be fun to feel 18 again – what else is a midlife crisis car for? BTW, SF Mini is charging 2500 over MSRP, but can be talked down to 2000 – I can't help but think they get a bit of twisted enjoyment watching potential buyers drool and then pony up…

  • Preston Clothier

    Picked up my 2005 spec Cooper S Chilli a couple of weeks ago. One colour Hyper Blue now includes mirrors, my first new car in 15 years. Love the new close ratio 6sp box, extra 5kw and new Xenons. Car has anthracite roof which is a A$300 option, looks great with sunroof. Also Chrono pack and int Chrome option – nice package. Ferry to Tasmania for run-in on some of the famous Targa Tasmania roads! Very Happy Preston

  • B. Byrd

    I recently picked up an 2005 MCS Hyper-Blue with the anthracite interior. I was looking for a Mini for the past 2 years and when I discovered that all the dealers that I contacted were going to order me one, the time frame would have been 8 weeks. So I called all the dealers again in the southwestern part of the USA and to my surprise, one dealer in Houston had five (5) MCS due to arrive within 4 weeks. So I did the unthinkable….I told the sales person that I would like the first MCS that was going to arrive at the Port in one of the Carolina's and had it shipped immediately, and can you believe…AT NO EXTRA COST. I received a call in about two (2) weeks from the sales representative that the car had arrived and picked it up in August of this year. I have no regrets in purchasing the vehicle. I have own several “Pocket Rockets” from MR2's, Corolla GT-S, Mazada RX-7 Turbo, and a sort time with an Alfa GTV-6. Then just out of the blue I bought my first BMW, a first production Z3, I instantly fell in love with the characteristics of the car. Next I purchased a 2003 BMW X5 4.6is and MAN what a ride. Now I have the '05 MCS…..you can't get any better than that…this is what a small car should be…fun, agile, quick, did I mention agile…anyway…I am sure there will be many 'Motoring Miles' for me…

  • Charles Becker

    I am about to order a 2005 MCS with Aero Kit. Will I be able to find a trailer hitch so I can tow my itty-bitty sailboat? Thanks.

  • Matthew Andoniadis

    I just ordered a mcs chili red black roof and bonnet stripes with chrome line exterior. Does anyone have pictures of a car with the chrome mirror caps on it?

  • Matthew Andoniadis

    Is anyone familiar with the sport link bike rack?

  • SG

    i'm really intrigued with all this stuff about the anthracite headliner.I live in the UK and have just ordered my MCS with a chili pack, first car ever so excited cant wait to get it, test drove the 2004 model (four times so far!!) and am unsure of which one i will receive. Dont get it until april so will i get the new model (2005) even though i ordered it in 2004??? I've ordered a dark grey one with anthracite dash and havent heard anything about this headliner thing in the UK. does it look good, how to i go about finding out if i get it as standard or not on my order??

  • eieio

    I have been lurking and have bought the 2002-2004 service manual. I like to see what can and cannot be worked on on a vehicle that I intend to buy. With the 2005 model, there seems to be some changes to the gearing and possibly some engine changes because of the increase in HP. Did the engine change in anyway, other than the HP output. Thanks in advance.

  • Melanie

    I thought I would put up a post for anyone interested in the fog/driving lights. I found a set, Mini Cooper OEM, on eBay for about $290,with shipping included. The dealer here in SF wanted $499 (not including sales tax!) for the EXACT same thing. These come from a Mini dealer in Littleton, Colorado (Ralph Schomp Automotive) and are the real thing, a complete set with all the wires, switches, etc. He emails you the 22 page installation manual after purchase. The ebay seller is called “autogoodparts”. The only thing you need to know is that there are two driving light sets, one for cars with the headlamp washers and one for cars without. Not all of the 2005 have headlamp washers, it depends on what package you have. As he explained to me, the cars with the headlamp washers require a more heavy-duty bracket for the driving lamps due to the combined heavier weight on the grille (of both the washers and the driving lamps). Other than the special brackets, the lamp sets are exactly the same. I should add that I have no financial interest in this “plug” at all – I just thought that others interested in them might want to save some bucks like I did! (BTW, I checked the Mini Mania site and he beats their price, too).

  • rollermonkey

    I’m ordering a 2005 MCS Chili Red/White with White 17″ rims. I’m looking at getting the Dash in Red also, Does anyone have this option, or can comment on how it looks??? I’m really up in the iar between this and the Anthracite dash. Thanks!

  • http://telly.bravo5.org/blojsom/blog brian

    Rollermonkey, that sounds pretty good. I’m planning on doing the MCS in red/black, sport and premium packages (minus the auto a/c), LSD, and the red dash. I’ve seen the red dash through a foggy window on the local MINI dealer’s lot and it looked really nice. Honestly, if the red dash didn’t look so good, I’d probably go with a different color…

    Anyone wanna buy an F-150? :-)

  • rollermonkey

    SWEET! Thanks Brian, that gives me a bit more confidence… as IF a MINI could look “BAD”! heh… what was I thinking?! I’ll get back to ya on the Ford :) :)

  • http://deboulle.com Nick

    I am going to buy a friend of mine’s 04 MCS JCW. Does the 2004 MCS have the revised gear ratio? Is it worth upgrading the JCW kit to 2005 spec or is it not worth the money? It is blue with white bonnet stripes. I race cars and i feel the most beautiful sound on earth is a loud “racing sounding” engine. Can any reccomend a LOUD aftermarket exhaust pipe for the MCS JCW? (something street legal preferably). i dont care about drone Thanks in advance. Any info will be a huge help! Later

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    The 2004 has the original gear ratios.

    Loud exhaust? Magnaflow. Of course you’d be ripping out one of the most refined exhausts made for the car to put on something, many consider, rather crude.

  • http://deboulle.com Nick

    Is there any power advantage to be gained from using the magnaflow exhaust for the 04 MCS JCW vs. the JCW exhaust? When you say crude do you mean the sound of the exhaust, or do you mean the manufacturing and design of the exhuast?

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    Crude as in – it’ll be pretty damn loud on the highway. I’d say the power advantage would be minimal at best.

  • http://www.jonathanricecollection.com tom rice

    best compliment ….my wife, who is NOT a car nut, wants to learn to drive it….she never could understand how one could say a car is “fun”,then i took her for that first drive….we now take the mini S to go anywhere…. 2nd [or 3rd] childhoods are a blast….

  • Simon Cooper

    Just looking at the review of the 2005 MINI Cooper S. I am thinking of buying such a MINI but I am UK based. I was wondering if the cool low level orange light to the front of the MINI that is pictured is just on US models or whether this cool feature os also available for us brits.

    Plus any advice on what kit to put on would be great. Everything get very expensive when you start adding up the extras.



  • LE

    Alas too late… I didn’t know that there even was an option for this. I checked just recently 2 months after ordering my MCS, that here in Australia, they’re still offering the anthracite interior. I wasn’t even aware of this, so hmm.. hopefully I’ll get it on my car, but I don’t know as it wasn’t specified when I bought the car.

  • rustyb

    I just ordered my ’05 MCS (black/black, red/black cloth/leather, etc.) and the dealer was able to specify an anthracite dash AND “interior,” seperate items on their online ordering system–the “interior” option appeared immediately below the upholstery option and the other mention of anthracite appeared at the bottom. Has BMW allowed the anthracite headliner to hang around? Or am I seriously confused, which is the more likely scenario?

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    Yes – the option was re-introduced at a $200 price in October 2004.

  • rustyb

    Thanks Gabe!

  • Joel

    Recently bought an “05” Electric Blue/White Mini Cooper S. Anyone know why this color was discontinued. I have considered adding the white bonnet stripes, but I can’t deceide if I like the look enough to pay for it. Anyone have any thoughts about the bonnet stripes? I live in North Dakota and ordered the all season 16″ run flat tires. I am impressed with the handling on snow and ice. The DSC works very well. This car is silly fun to drive.

  • Joel

    Opps! Thats 17″ tires, not 16″

  • Christine

    I just bought a used 2003 S. I need to know if and how to add the side sun visor like the new ones have. My commute every morning puts the sun on my left, and the abbreviated stock visor is nowhere in range of blocking the sun for me.

  • Jim C.

    nice review my 02 is just fine the max mpg so far is 42.3 with my wife. the dealer told me the new hp increase drops the mpg. i come out of third two times the speed limit now so i am gonna hold on to mine a yr or so more. thxs

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    The changes that started with the 205 model year had no affect on MPG.

  • Jim C.

    that is not what my dealer told me. i thought he wanted to sell cars?

  • Jim C.

    27/37 vs 25/32 as per mini

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    The 25/32 you reference is listed for the Cooper S, not the Cooper. I assume you’re trying to comparing the same car right?

  • Jim C.

    that is correct

  • Chad C.

    Just purchased a 2006 MCS last week. Love this car! However, On the way home tonight hit a decent snow storm, and on the way up a rather steep hill I actually had to stop, turn around, and take a second go at the hill. I did not enjoy this. I am still getting used to the car. It feels extremely lite on the snow. Can anyone suggest me a set of good tires for the snow??

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