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.