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

    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)


  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian C.

    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!”

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian C.
  • d.j. derek

    Thank you, Ian C.!

  • d.j. derek

    Ian C., WE need to spread the word…

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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.

  • http://www.hubertus.net/mymini Philip

    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.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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!

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe


    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?


  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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 :D

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



  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    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?

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