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.

  • Again another thanks to Dave Olenick!

  • Frank

    Nice review Gabe. There for a minute I was toying with the idea of a '05 hardtop MCS but my '04 MCS so solid and reliable that I don't really have enough of an incentive to go for an '05. Sure the extra kick in the power would be nice but then again, you can always fit your '04 with the latest JCW performance upgrades.

    I will, however, keep my eyes peeled for the upcoming R56 MCS that is just short of 24 months away before release. Then I'll re-evaluate keeping the '04 MCS or not.

  • Richard

    Took delivery of my 05 MCS two weeks ago.My first Mini and am really impressed. I have owned 9 different Porsches From a new 84 944 , some late model 911's and still have a 356. This car is just as much fun and easier to live with. Wish I had seen the Red and Black seats before I ordered.

  • GSKChicago

    I searched Motoringfile.com because I am curious if my '05 MCS has the anthracite headliner. The pictures I found on here look pretty similar, but it's hard to say for sure. How do I know for sure if I have the anthracite headliner or something different (since I don't know what the options are/were)? My MCS was built July 23rd if that helps. Thanks. :o)


  • The normal MINI headliner is cream colored – if yours is dark then it is anthracite (pic here). On the one MINI I have seen, the A pillars interior trim is anthracite instead of cream too …

  • ChrisW

    But no red/black combo seats available on the MCS Convertible. Grrrrr!

  • GSKChicago


    Thanks!! Woo hoo! I guess my MCS just got a little bit cooler. :o) It is a nice headliner, it allows you to open the roof, but keep the liner closed to reduce sunlight glare in the eyes. Works well. :o)

    Thanks! :o)


  • d.j. derek

    WE need to start an official petition aimed at MINI USA to keep the anthracite headliner as a cost option for the United States like are friends in Canada. WE are the largest import market in the world for MINI. In turn WE as the consumer have the power to demand what WE want from MINI. Why should the Europeans get all the great options and we're always left holding the bag. So, call up MINI USA or write a letter and say, “We're mad as Hell and we're not gonna take it anymore!”

  • d.j. derek

    Thank you, Ian C.!

  • d.j. derek

    Ian C., WE need to spread the word…

  • We'll spread the word right here in a few days!

  • Bob

    Could you help me please? I still can't tell what the anthracite headliner is! Thanks!

  • pete

    BOB, look at the ceiling inside the mini cooper, notice how it is kind of a light greyish color? the anthracite one is dark gray and goes much nicer if you have an anthracite dash 🙂

  • pepper d

    got my 05 MCS about 2 weeks ago and have loved every miniute. missed the boat on the anthracite HL since i ordered before i knew it was even an option. once i saw the pics on MOTORINGFILE, i really beat myself up for not waiting. i felt the all black interior of my MINI was somehow incomplete.

    what a surprise i got when my MA caled to tell me my car was in; WITH the anthracite HL!!

    i drove the next day from STL to CHI and back to pick her up and couldn't have been happier on the ride home. 313mi on the first day!

    he still isn't sure how i got it since i didn't spec it (more than once i looked over my order confirmation sheet before arrival hoping i had ordered it by mistake, but it is not there). it is subtle, yet one of the best new changes for the 05. even though i relish having a 'limited edition' i think they should make this option available again, as pete says, it totally completes the interior with an anthracite dash.

  • d.j. derek

    I emailed Dr. Helmut Panke a few hours ago, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. Asking him politely to bring back the anthracite headliner and (knock on wood)power folding mirrors as a cost option. “Why?”, do you ask, because MINI owners and enthusiasts alike are demanding it… I'll let you know in a few days if I get a response from him or his staff.

  • I signed the petition (#50).

    I have the anthracite headliner as well …along with black leather seats, the anthracite dashboard and interior chrome pack. The combination looks fantastic.

    I drove my MY05 MCS up the Autobahn (I live in Germany) last weekend and it was a dream come true. The handling of the car, the new gearbox and the sound of the exhaust made me smile all day. Outperforming big BMWs, Audis and the like was not a problem, thanks to the cars performance and especially the great handling in fast speed bends. For the high speed freaks among the readers: I reached 220 km/h (about 137 mph).

    However, I still think the Mini is best to enjoy on nice and curvy country roads.

  • Stuart

    Its all good from you guys, Thanks for the comments. I'm feeling not a little humbled and proud at the same time at what has been achieved here, I was considering a short excursion to try a new Beemer 1 series (not available in the US), but I've ordered another MINI today on the back of your comments. Thanks very much, I'll pass on the comments to our people here.


  • Tim – storm180

    You can spin around the rear washer nozzle???

    (cackles gleefully)

    I haven't been this excited since my dealer said I could get an intake and exhaust and still be under warranty.

  • Stuart – everyone there in Oxford deserves a lot of credit for the 2005. Coming from an '02 owner it's a substancial improvement.

    So please do pass along the comments!

  • BTW it's important to note that MINIUSA is typically responsible for spec changes like the anthracite headliner and not MINI corporate. You can reach MINIUSA and voice your displeasure at 888.ASK.MINI.

  • Kimes

    I also just received my hyper blue MCS. It is awesome! The chron package, the hyper blue interior, the inside lighting effects (no one has mentioned those before) are incredible. Oh, and the xenons…wow!

    Questions: 1) Will the 04 JCW kit install on the '05? 2) Will any other mods (i.e., Dinan chip, intake, etc. ) install on '05. 3) If no, is there an expected date for available '05 mods? I hear JCW says later this year/beginning of '05, but has that been confirmed?

    I love this car! My current conundrum is between the 17 inch two tones or the 18 inch JCW wheels. Any advice? I'm thinking non-run flats for comfort. Is that the consensus?

  • RB

    Never knew about the petition for the AH. I signed it. How was one to know? I did not see anything on Gabe's site.


  • Steve

    My '05 MC should be completed the end of this week, but I was told by MINIUSA that because it's a September build that I won't get the anthracite headliner. I think if you specced your car with Anthracite trim that the headliner would be added automatically – that is, if you were in the magical timeframe that I missed by 2 days! D'oh!!

  • Lee Langston

    I will have to say, I have not liked the pictures of the new Xenons at all. However, I saw one in person at a local meet a couple of weeks ago and they looked much better than I thought. I still prefer the old one I slightly but I definitely would not hesitate ordering them on a new car because of the change.

  • Kimes,

    Actually we talked a bit about the new interior lighting a few months back. For those that don't know the additions are LED lights in the rear view mirror (similar to what's in the current 3 series), additional map lights where the clock used to be, LED lights in the door handles (mentioned here last March actually) and pathway lighting in the bottom of the doors. Let me know if I've missed anything.

    Here are the answers to your questions..

    1) No the '04 JCW cannot be fitted to an '05 MCS (We received an internal MINIUSA memo about this & reported on it in August)

    2) Yes most mods from other manufacturers should work out of the box with your '05 MCS.

    3) The JCW kit will debut this month and the first JCW US catalog should be out late in the fall.

    On the 18s – I personally love the look of them but doubt I could get away with something with such a low profile on Chicago roads. It really depends on where you live and how good/bad the roads are.

  • Deborah

    Okay… here's my question. I've seen that the 2005 cars have a sun visor on the left of the driver & an Oh Sh*t! handle on the passenger's side (what's the real name for that handle anyhow?). I have an 02 MCS. Anybody know if the screw points on the car frame are new or if that visor can be retrofitted into my MCS? Anybody willing to try it? I'd be willing to be a guinea pig car (I'm out in the DC area) if the person knew something about mucking around in cars and installing mods. I'd LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have a working side visor. So the gauntlet is thrown… anybody?

  • dgszweda1

    No Mini configurator update on the MiniUSA site as promised. Hmmmm!

  • Thomas G. Ernst

    Gabe, Regarding the picture of the MCS. It appears to be black on black. Thought this was not available on the MCS. What is actual color?


  • No that color combo has always been available.

  • TGE

    Interesting. The MINI USA “Build Your Own” shows it availabel on the basic Mini but not on the S model

  • It should work but you must first choose the body colored roof option and then black.

  • d.j. derek

    I just recieved a few emails from Germany, Great Britain and MINI USA. The email from Great Britain said it's up to MINI USA for the spec changes, not MINI corporate. MINI USA said it would pass my message up the chain of command. I do say this, they are quick on their feet in response to customer related topics.

  • Eric Hui

    had a 02 MCS before, was always happy with it, now that its gone am getting a 05 MCS replacement. should get it around november.. wanted the anthracite headliner but since its a cost option i've decide that it wasn't worth the extra money (well maybe if i get a chance to see it in real life but there isn't so i just sticked with the normal headliner) also getting the Xenon headlights…. i like the new look a lot more than the old i had.. cant wait for my car to arrive

  • Eric – The antracite headliner was a no-cost option when it was available. However it is now not available for US spec cars at all.

    Of course there's nothing wrong with the normal headliner either 🙂

  • d.j. derek

    I talked with one of the sales people today at Baron MINI in Kansas City. They've had alot of MINI owners to be, angry at the prospect of not being able to order the anthracite headliner.

  • d.j. derek

    I'm holding out on buying a MINI COOPER until the anthracite headliner is reinstated… With a little luck, maybe the power folding mirrors as well.

  • Bart

    I've had my 05 MCS for about a week now, and it is just awesome. HB/B with body colored interior, chrome guages, and the infamous anthracite headliner too. The dark headliner definitely adds to the sports car mystique, and belongs on the S… (I think they should make it standard and the light headliner optional for the S only, actually)…so I have signed the petition and told MINIUSA exactly what I think as well ;). I also highly recommend the painted dash and chrome, it just adds so much to the look of the interior.

    The exhaust really is a shocker to me too! I'm still getting used to it… but I like it 🙂

  • pete

    kimes: go for the 18's. they look beautfiul on my 04' indi blue mcs, and they dont take away power from the engine becuase of their weight. i also have a set of custom painted R90's in my garage awaiting delivery of my wife's 05' pepper white/black mcs. i had the outside of the rim chromed, and the inside painted black with 4 sets of wheels locks. when rims cost that much, you dont want them stolen.

  • coop

    Stuff like this makes me angry. I already ordered my 2005 and I know that MINI will reinstate the anth. liner as soon as my car comes in. I really wanted this and BMW took it away. They got everyone interested in it and then they take it away. A similar thing happened when I ordered my MINI back in 2002–I wanted Xenon lights but was denied because of a “shortage” of them at the time when I ordered. After I get my car in, they are available again. Go figure. Guess I'll have to retrofit the anth. liner–how much is that going to cost me? Geez…

    And about the rear fog light. When is that going to be available (as a dealer installed option I assume)?

  • RC

    A lot more info on this site than I could get locally! I'm anxious to get the MCS with automatic, but my dealer says orders cannot be taken until November. Meanwhile I appreciate everything on this site so I can spec my car correctly. To get the JCW option or not–worth contemplating?


    PS: I used to drive an AMCS bored to 1301cc, but have been stuck with a clunker for the past 10 years.

    PPS: I signed the petition. Doesn't MiniUSA prize aesthetics?

  • Eric Hui

    hey Gabe im in Australia so the antracite headliner is a COST option as i said 😀

    i wish its a no cost option since i don't see the cost of the antracite headliner worth $300AUD..



  • Mike – yes we're planning on doing that soon. Believe it or not I also own a Cooper. Oh btw you don't need to keep the caps lock on 🙂

  • Rossii

    Is it me or are the sunshades solid??


  • Alex Stoyanov

    Hey, guys. I am just curious. My MCS is beiyng made right now – I ordered the car with the anthracite dash – do you think my car is going to have tha regular headliner or the anthracite.


  • diamondrg

    Alex, Ordering the anthracite dash does not automatically get you the anthracite headliner. Did you order the anthracite headliner? If so and your MINI is being produced this month, you should get the anthracite headliner. Your dealer can tell you if its on your order or call ASK MINI.

  • Terry

    I ordered my '05 MCS Sept. 1st in Hyper Blue. I just read on Motoringfile.com that H/Blue will only be on the January builds and later. Anybody have one yet?

  • Actually we've always said Hyper Blue will be available on the MCS for all of 2005. It's the Cooper that it won't be available on until 1/05.

  • Terry

    My dealer says 8 weeks from order. My car is “scheduled for production” and has a VIN #. Is 8 wks fairly accurate?

  • 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)

  • 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!

  • 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 🙂 🙂

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

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

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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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