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The MotoringFile Top 5 Mods for the MCS

It’s time once again to dust off our top five MCS mods list and reevaluate. Only this time I’m going to ask for a bit of help. Ian (of gbmini.net fame) and Lawrence (frequent MF contributor) are adding their thoughts to the mix. The idea is that between all of our lists, there’s got to be at least a few good ideas! This also gives us each a chance to make the list a bit more personal and allows for some differing opinions.

First up, Lawrence Otoole:

5. Intake/Exhaust – Usually the first mods performed, simply because of their ease of installation and immediate change to the car’s character. Nothing beats the whooshing sound of an intake pulling in fresh air and the off-throttle burbling of a cat-back exhaust. Cost can be an issue however, from options (hot air intake, one-ball exhaust, etc.) that don’t cost much, to factory-warranted JCW components that can set you back quite a bit. Whatever your choice, the difference in the seat-of-the-pants will be relatively subtle, as both mods usually deliver single-digit horsepower gains. The car will feel faster, but that’s probably because you’ll be stomping the gas pedal a bit more just to hear that sweet music!

4. Pulley/Engine Management – If you’re looking to make serious power, and get the most bang for the buck, these are the mods to go for. While the pulley is only applicable to S versions, both upgrades provide the most increase in horsepower per dollar than any other. They also come with issues regarding warranty compatibility. They can be somewhat costly, as there is high initial cost or additional labor involved – however, most say cars with these modifications alone feel the way they should have felt from the factory. So if more low-end grunt and increased oomph across the entire powerband is what you’re after, these are the mods to look into.

3. Rear Swaybar – If you’re looking to improve your handling, installing a a larger diameter (and maybe adjustable) rear swaybar is a good choice. Our cars have a tendency to understeer. A larger diameter bar reduces body roll, provides quicker turn-in, increases lateral stiffness and improves the car’s handling as a whole and makes the car a lot more neutral feeling.

2. Wheels/Tires – I agree with Gabe on his previous points about ditching the runflats. But I would also add that while looking for better performing tires, look into pairing them with lighter rims. Most of the stock MINI rims are pretty heavy (the S-Lites alone weigh over 25 pounds each!), and your car has to use some of it’s power to overcome that weight. By replacing the runflats with a combination of lighter wheels and tires, you’ll notice much better response in off the line launching as well as in overall handling. The downside is in the event of a flat – if you have an S, be sure to carry flat fix, a spare or a cellphone. A suggestion would be to keep your current stock wheels/runflats for the winter weather (if you get such stuff where you are) and pick up a separate performance set for the warmer months.

1. Driving Instruction – Far and away the best modification available – tightening up the nut behind the wheel. Works on all models and all years too! Seriously though, power increases and handling improvements mean nothing if you can’t harness and control them. Check out a local autocross or sign up for a track day where instructors will be on hand. Seek advice, get an instructor to go out with you, or better yet, have one drive your car while you observe from the passenger seat. You’ll be amazed the difference a single event makes. You’ll pick up skills that can be directly translated to your everyday street driving. You’ll have fun, become a better driver, and if you’re not careful, you could become addicted!

Next, Ian Cull:

5. I have lots of “little additions” that make GBMINI great for me but are likely irrelevant for most people … I like the factory alarm because it audibly confirms lock & unlock. I love my wiper stalk with RED indicator for low fluid instead of the ugly yellow original color. The “Hot Pocket” storage between the downtubes is much better than even the ’05 storage.

4. The JCW air intake – of course I am still hoping to upgrade that #4 to the full JCW package when MINIUSA releases it for the MCSa!

3. is also Gabe’s #4, the euro parcel shelf.

2. A good aftermarket stereo system – but I know you have a very different perspective on that than Gabe does :)

1. Non-runflat tires -> GBMINI rides much more comfortably and quieter, and has massively better wet weather traction. The idea of runflat is good, but it seems there is just too much compromise is noise, grip, weight, etc.

And finally, my turn:

(Disclaimer: I was going to put the Ian Cull Auto Up circuit in the list at no. 5 however since it’s no longer available here’s the revised list)

5. On the hardtop MCS Ditch the OEM S-lites and go with either a lighter OEM wheel (the R99 for example) or look for a lightweight 17″ after-market wheel. If money is no object go with one of the 18″ JCW wheels. If you have the 16″ x-spokes and like the look, stick with ‘em. The MCS convertible actually comes with the lightest 17″ OEM wheels standard on the sports pack so there’s less of a non-aesthetic need to switch them out. A word of warning, aftermarket rims can sometimes be more malleable than OEM wheels and thus don’t stand up quite as well over time. This is one of the reason’s they’re often lighter.

4. Euro Parcel Shelf or the Glove Box organizer – your choice. Both give you more storage in a nice , neat OEM approved way and both are available from the dealer.

3. Cold Air Intake and Free-flow exhaust. If money is no object go for the JCW intake and the Supersprint exhaust. If it is, take a look at the Promini, Dinan or Alta intakes and the Miltek Exhaust. The new power and improved sound will be addicting!

2. Rear Sway Bar (check out the H&R or Alta). This is the single best way to make your MINI handle better at the limit. Most likely due to laibility laws, MINI isn’t able to offer this set-up from the factory. So it’s up to you to liberate your car!

1. 15% Pulley. There probably isn’t a bigger bang for your buck in the entire MINI aftermarket world. However if you’re really worried about warranty, spend the money on an afternoon at the Phil Wicks Driving School instead.

Now it’s your turn… give us your MCS top 5…

Written By: Gabe

  • http://www.gbmini.net/ Ian

    Beware of advice from DuctTape – he drives his MINIs differently to the rest of us ;) ;)

    [no offence, David!]


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