R&T 12 Best Cars under $30K

Road and Track make a list of the 12 best cars to be had for less than $30,000US. Of course the list included a 2006 MINI Cooper S.

Because we couldn’t get our hands on the upcoming second-generation Mini Cooper S in time for this test, we took the current car outfitted with the John Cooper Works tuning kit. The kit adds an enhanced Eaton supercharger, modified cylinder head, redesigned airbox, higher-flow fuel injectors, a reprogrammed electronic control unit and a freer-flowing stainless-steel exhaust. The result is 207 bhp (compared with 168 stock), at a premium of $6300.

[ 12 Best Cars under $30K – MCS ] Roadandtrack.com [ 12 Best Cars under $30K – Complete ] Roadandtrack.com
  • dr

    Perhaps they could not figure out how to adjust the “cheap-feeling” seats, because my tach is not partially obscured

  • Jim

    Yep, my tach is partially obscured… I’ve gotten used to it but it does miss the mark here. I imagine only very short-torso types can see that low, even with the steering wheel at the top of the adjustment…

    No, those of us who can’t see it all are not freaks!

  • Matt Korr
    There is simply no excuse for the tachometer to be partially blocked by the steering wheel, and a speedometer in the center of the car doesn’t make a lot of sense, either.

    What is wrong with people? It woulds be nice if a magazine could have someone at least a little familar with MINI write a review, instead of this rubbush!!


  • jarrett

    whats wrong with the seats, i fit comfortably and snug within them, but maybe it because i’m the size of an nfl lineman, as to the tach, if the obscuring problem offends you, adjust your steering wheel.

    perhaps the problem is the elistism of road and track writers, perhaps i should write a review of it for a literary journal.

  • tonyt

    Actually, I think the reviewer has a very valid point. its clear he’s not a great Mini fan like the rest of us, so yes he see’s design flaws where we see a cute little car.

    First up, the speedo in the centre is a simple design over function decision by BMW. Yes, it would be better to have the speedo in the drivers sight line, not off to the right/left. This is highlighted by the cars with speedo/tachos in the correct place due to Satnav being fitted – they are simply better to drive.

    The standard and indeed Sports seats fitted to the Mini are S***e compard to seats fitted to proper performance hatches – especially on a 210bhp Works car. You only realise how bad they are when you’ve gotten used to a car with Sparco or Recaros fitted…

    And yes, the instruments should be fully visable at all times by all shape and size of driver…. not ones that just happen to fit the size profile….

  • OH Steve

    I’m 6’5″, no portion of the tach is obscured, adjust your seat and adjust the wheel.

    Doesn’t everyone use the digital speedo on the tach? I rarely ever glance over at the big dish.

  • DB

    Doesn’t everyone use the digital speedo on the tach? I rarely ever glance over at the big dish.

    Not everyone has that feature. I really wish it would have been available on the ’03s tho. Especially since my speedo is terribly inaccurate.

  • gmini

    and i always glance over. the tach is always in my periferal and so’s the big ol speedo.

  • gmini

    oh. and that’s two MINIs I’ve owned and never used that digital thing. too small. not the way i like to read speed, or anything else that comes in analogue form for that matter.

  • Dave S.

    I am 6’1″ and have no problem at all reading the tach, I really don’t look at the center mounted speedo, my ’05-S has the digital speedo in the tach so I have the best of both worlds…tach and speedo in one instrument.

  • dr

    I shall also say that the center speedo comment was quite disapointing comming from a road and track editor. Besides the heritage of the center speedo, the reason for the tach beong front and center is because it is more important than speed to a REAL driver. I understand that soccer moms and the like masses drive by the speedo but this really isnt a car built for them it is built for enthusiasts who can tell you how fast they are going by looking at tach, and care more about shift points then speed…So i understand where the comment comes from but it just makes the editor sound like a mini-van driver who gets excited over how many cupholders a car has

  • Seth L

    I think the comments came from their design director? He hates the interior of the R53, and they always go to him for quotes.

    Sure, the critisizms aren’t unfounded though.

  • FH

    The tach placement, versus the speedo took some getting used to, but since most of my driving is in the city, I just have to move with traffic, and not pay as much attention to speed.

    Also, I’m sure lots of people get used to it, and, like me, have realized certain RPMs at certain gears, on a low grade, will mean a certain velocity. When I’m in sixth gear, I know that ~3,000 RPMs (just under the line) = 70 mph, etc.

  • nervous

    I’d love to blame tach/speedo placement for my past two speeding tickets within 4 months; but the truth is that even if the tach/speedo was somehow burned into my retina, I wouldn’t have been going any slower.

  • cct1

    I’m 6 foot even, and the tach is perfectly in my line of site. As for the center speedo, it’s not the most convienent, or safest, but as mentioned, it’s a nod to Mini’s heritage. The funny thing is, when I drive my other cars, I will usually look toward the center of the car for the speedometer out of habit, since I drive my Mini the vast majority of the time. Not only is the Mini’s speedo harder to read in the Mini than a normal speedo (And I wouldn’t want it any other way), but it screws up my ability to find the speedo in my other cars…:D

  • groland

    If the S (Works) is one of the best cars under $30K, would the normally aspirated Cooper be one of the best (if not the best) cars under $20K?

  • tony T

    Funny thing about the speedo being in the centre of the Mini…. it means my back seat passenger (my daughter) can clearly see it, and therefore she nags me to slow down all the time. Doesn’t happen in other cars.

    So good and bad…. (she tends to be an overly cautious passenger… which is probably a good thing…)