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MF Review: The 2007 MINI Cooper & Cooper S

MINI had a tough task following up the R50 and R53. To gain a larger audience, there’s little question the car had to become easier to live with. That meant, less rattles, less of a jarring ride, and a more refined engine. But the challenge (at least with the latter two) was to do all of this and retain the car’s charm and performance feel. Based on some early European reviews of the new car, indications were mixed. Could BMW possibly create a vehicle worthy enough to follow-up the incredibly successful R50 and R53? Apparently they could and they did. Not only is the new MINI has fun to drive on the road and track, it’s refined and effortless in many ways the previous car was not. It achieves a balance that the 2002-2006 MINIs simply never had.

Nothing exemplifies this balance more than the sport button. Driving in the Cooper and Cooper S with the sport button turned off (the default position) there’s little question the car is meant to be easier to drive for the masses. Its steering is lighter, the throttle response is more laid back, and the overall feeling is one of comfort compared to the previous car. One could easily be fooled (as some journalists have been) into thinking that BMW missed the mark with the new MINI with the sport button in the off position.

With the sport button on however, the car comes alive. In a fraction of a second it becomes a more refined version of the car that preceded it – the R50 and R53. In fact the steering felt weightier and the throttle response was noticeably sharper than the stock 2002-2006 Cooper S.

With the sport button (made possible by MINI’s new electronic steering and some clever ECU tuning) MINI is able to appeal to a larger base of customers while offering a car that retains the key attributes that have made the previous generation such a success. A classic case of a win-win.

The interior of the new car follows many of these same principles. The center stack has been thoroughly redesigned with an emphasis on reducing its width and giving both driver and passenger more legroom. A great improvement for long trips and track days alike for all of us over 6 feet tall.

However, in making this change, there were some design choices made that many current owners will surely lament. The biggest complaint seems to be the apparent cheapness of the center stack face plate. Because the climate controls, radio, and toggle bank are no longer separate components, they are all covered with a single piece of black textured plastic.

The effect in photos is not good. While in person (with more of a sense of dimension) the design work a little better, it’s not the strongest point of the interior design. It does get slightly better with auto heating and cooling controls though. And with the optional navigation system, so much of the plastic is taken up by the extra DVD slot-loading drive that you don’t have as much of an expanse of the face plate to stare at. Still, it’s something that will take time for most previous MINI owners to get used to.

Sitting in the R56 for the first time, you can’t help but be struck by the improvement in seat quality. BMW has gone with an entirely new supplier. It shows in a number of ways. Despite the sport seats looking like something out of a 60′s lounge, they have much improved side bolstering. The lower cushion is also much more comfortable and extends further towards the knees, giving better support. Finally, the mechanism to push the seat forward functions in a completely logical manner. In fact, the design is taken straight from the latest BMW 3 Series Coupe.

The Lounge Leather option (our test car came with the gorgeous Redwood Lounge Leather) had almost a “pillow-top” effect that gave the seats an extra layer of comfort, which I greatly appreciated throughout the day. The red-orange of the seats makes for what I believe is the best looking MINI interior yet.

Another big change made in conjunction with the slimmed center stack is the integrated radio/speedometer. The R56′s radio has gained quite a bit of functionality. It now has a more complex interface that contains optional bluetooth functionality, along with input selection and audio control. However, taken as a whole, the sound-system isn’t intuitive. The screen and button interface aren’t obvious at first and will surely be a step back for MINI owners who aren’t a tech savvy.

It’s also worth noting that there was some alarming panel gaps between the glossy piano dash and what MINI calls the “color-line” just below it. While we were reminded that these cars were essentially pre-production US-spec, it’s not as if they haven’t producing cars for the rest of the world for three months. We can only hope that this issue was only relevant to the US press cars and not to actual production units.

The digital read-out in the tachometer is one area that really stood out as a revelation. You our now able to have a digital display of your speed at three times the size on the previous car. A handy tool for those who like to challenge speed limits a little.

Speaking broadly, the interior of the R56 is a revelation. The design works very well in person. The fit and finish is unquestionably a step above what we all know well with the previous generation MINI. Most of the glaring issues have been resolved and the feel has taken on a fresh personality that helps give the R56 its own character.

But perhaps the biggest change BMW has given us with this new MINI is under the hood. The new 1.6L engines are more refined, produce more power, and have broader torque curves. This translates into a more comfortable road experience from stop and go city driving to highway cruising. More than once I found myself well into triple digit territory without realizing it. Something that is almost impossible with the previous MINI. With the R53, you not only heard, but felt triple digits. The R56 by contrast goes about high speed cruising much like a BMW, with a feeling of effortlessness.

So it may come as little surprise that BMW was solely responsible for the design of the new engines. In fact Erich Sonntag, who headed up development of MINI’s new engines, had previously been in a similar position working on BMW’s exceptional inline six cylinder power-plants. Mr. Sonntag (who was on hand for the US introduction) mentioned to me that he found the opportunity of incorporating BMW’s proven technology on such a fun car like the MINI hard as an exciting challenge and one that was hard to pass up. He also mentioned that there was some natural collaboration with the BMW engineers working on the 300hp 3.0L Turbo Inline Six recently introduced in several BMWs

But what about tuning the new MINI? I asked Mr. Sonntag what he thought might be an obvious area to start with. With a smile and a twinkle in his eye, he said that getting much more power out of these engines would be difficult without truly knowing every detail of their inner workings. It seems they are already very well optimized. However, he did mention that the first place to start (that wouldn’t be too expensive) would be a larger intercooler on the Cooper S.

Mr. Sonntag also delivered the bad news that the US market cars have indeed lost the exhaust burble so many of us have grown to love on the 2005 and 2006 cars. Apparently BMW was inundated with complaints from US customers about the sound so they decided to simply turn it off in the ECU programing. This is perhaps one off the biggest disappoints I found with the new car. Yes, it’s really not anything more than ear candy. Still, it was a great part of the 2005 and 2006′s character.

On the track, the eagerness to rev and the greater torque down low in the power band gives the R56 a very different character than the previous car. The power delivery is particularly smooth and powering out of low-speed corners is distinctly different from the R53. However, LSD still remains a must for any track work.

The new Getrag 6 speed manual is also an improvement over what was offered in the R53. It now feels a bit more BMW like in it’s execution and performance. The transmission’s slickness allows for quicker shifts without sacrificing feel.

The automatic Cooper and Cooper S I sampled have the same 6 speed auto unit featured in the R53. The software is new but the frustration of slow reactions are not. Like the R53 the auto continues to be a poor choice for those who want ultimate control and feel. However for the Cooper, the Aisin unit represents a huge upgrade from the CVT that was previously offered. All told, it’s a great commuting car that most enthusiasts will stay away from.

Over the course of two days, I grew to really enjoy the look of the new MINI. However, there’s little question that the taller bonnet and taller belt-line make 17″ wheels almost mandatory. 15″ wheels look especially awkward on the car. While I personally like the look of the larger wheels and smaller side-wall, I can’t help but feel a bit of the purity found on the R50 was lost in the new car because of the need to comply with Europe’s new pedestrian crash standards.

Another area that might disappoint; the panel gap between the front wheel arches and clamshell hood was still not totally rectified as it still appeared to be a little too healthy. I ask MINI USA Product Manager Jeff Stracco about the issue and he said that the Oxford Plant had been working hard to eliminate the issue over the last couple of months. He believed it had been fixed 11th or 12th production mold finally doing the trick. However he believed our press cars had been produced after the final changes were made.

I won’t go into any more details (especially since we posted an entire design analysis a few months ago) but I will say, as a whole, BMW has done an exceptional job of retaining the look and character of the original R50 despite the new safety challenges.

I had hoped that the R56 would not disappoint. To be truthful, I was quite concerned that the needs of the market would dictate a softer MINI and the focus on performance would erode. But, by the end of the weekend, with hours of track and road driving under my belt, there was little doubt in my mind that BMW nailed this car. The new MINI is a better MINI for both the enthusiast and the non-enthusiast alike. Some of the visceral character of the previous car has been lost. However, so much more has been gained in performance and livability.

As long as you remember to click that sport button.

Just an FYI for all you with questions about the R56 – we’re going to have an official R56 Q&A coming up later today or tomorrow. So if you have any questions about the new car you may want to hold off until then as having them all in one place will make it easier to answer. We’llattempt to answer them all with a post next Monday.

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Written By: Gabe

  • James

    I see it now…

    The Ian Cull Auto-Sport Circuit! 8^)

  • http://Michiganmini.org Ryephile

    —>Chili Pepper: You’re right, the MS3 is probably the closest competitor to the MCS. You do have to admit though that not everyone that is primarily looking at the MINI wants a “large” hatchback that weighs 3200 pounds and gets 18mpg to get that 280lb-ft of torque. Personally if I was looking for that, I’d get an Evo 9.

  • FrankInMiami

    Andy Richard, basically your answer would be a more taut and less jarring suspension and better interior materials/build quality.

    80% of the rattles in the previous car came about the harsh suspension setup and runflat tires. Having said this, both my ’02 MC and ’05 MCS are virtually rattle free.

  • http://www.shorer.com Ed.

    Curious, does this “magic” Sports button affect fuel consumption beyond the natural result of stepping on the pedal more? If so, to what degree?

  • Mark Smith

    Torsional rigidity is also up. Rated at 24,500Nm/degrees. According to what I’ve read it says that it takes 24,500 Newton Meters of twisting force applied to the body to flex it through 1 degree. There’s no comparison to the R50/ R53 there though. This helps the suspension focus on what it’s supposed to do rather than also having to compensate for body flex.

  • Mark Smith

    Sorry that’s Newton Meters per degree just to clarify.

  • Bud

    FranklinMiami — The number $31k I used for comparison was based on a quote from a fellow Motoringfile commentator and not one derived personally. According to your experience one would definetly get more bank for the buck with the ’07.

    Incidentally, where’d you get the ltd. edition 2010 MINI GP info.?

  • GP

    I am scheduled to take delivery on 2/17/07 of my 2007 MCS, Dark Silver Met., Cold Weather Pkg., Premium Pkg., Sport Pkg., LSD, Sport Suspension, Hi-Fi Audio, Crown Spoke Wheels, Chrome Exterior & Exterior Pkgs., Center Arm rest, Grey-Black Leatherette. Auto Rear View Mirror w/Garage Door Opener.

    I have previously driven a 2006 MCS, 6-speed manual with the standard suspension and was advised by my MA to order the sport suspension, but after reading recent driving reviews, am concerned about the harshness of the ride – especially on the highway. I am transitioning from a 2005 Porsche Boxster S with 18″‘ wheels, and a comfortable “cruising freeway ride” that easily converts to aggressive performance by simply shifting and hitting the “go fast” pedal.

    Has Gabe or Dave had the opportunity to compare the freeway ride characteristics of the optional 2007 Sports Suspension to the Standard 2007 or 2006 MCS suspensions? I understand the different driving dynamics of the Porsche and the Mini MCS – I am seeking input on the ride harshness between the Mini MCS optional suspensions.

  • GZ

    Mazda? Gak! If it cost $15k and had 300hp and handled like the Lotus you’d still have too look at it. Hardly the instant classic that each Mini is.

    As for those in R56 denial, we likely won’t be hearing from you in a few months once it hits the road in the US. If the R56 came first and then changed to the R53 we’d be hearing the same bellyache from the same people.

    I don’t see it until 2/18 in Cleveland but I’m giving it two thumbs up upon photos and Gabe’s opinion.

  • Bud

    Tell ya what, I for one would be willing and eager to accept the entire ’07 redesign(resplendent with its ostensible flaws)for one factor — the DIESEL engine! Make mine a MINI D with a large order of Mickey D fries!! Wow … what a value meal that would make, especially with a side order of AWD.

  • Bud

    Yep, Mickey D and MINI D could become Valentine sweethearts. While the motorer satiates his apetite the motor could be treated to drums of delectable oxidated french fry grease AKA bio-diesel. Just pull-up behind the Golden Arches for a fill-up and be off with great MPGs and funtastic NMs of torque.

  • Bud

    Just thought of something. How many of you plan to attend AMVIV? If we could get a list of attendees perhaps we could meet at the event, get acquainted, and undoubtedly share our diverse perspectives with one another.

  • rkw
    the JCW GP will continue to be the fastest factory production Cooper S (That is until the R56 sees its on GP version, likely in 2010)

    My prediction is that R56 JCW will outperform the GP (much earlier than 2010).

  • Jon

    Hey, if the aftermarket can design a circuit for the R53 to have DSC turn off by default, SURELY, they can design one for the R56, where the sport mode is on by default!

    All hope is not yet lost, enthusiastic MINI drivers! Have faith in our aftermarket!

    As for those of you who unfairly judge The R56 before driving it, or at least seeing it in person, take it easy. Give it a chance!

  • http://hpudrew.gomotoring.com Drew M.

    Ok, so I bought an ’06 knowing that the R56 was coming out in a few months, so chalk me up as one of the nervous bunch.

    I will say though, that I am impressed overall with the R56. After putting 20k miles on my R53 in 6 months I’d certainly like a little more refinement. I love this car, but I wouldn’t complain if it was a little less noisy and bumpy on normal driving.

    Personally, I like the idea of a sport button. I can do my daily commuting in comfort, and at the touch of a button I’m carving corners. Besides, how hard is it to hit a button whenever you want to have some fun? I usually let my car run for 30 seconds before driving off anyway, that’s plenty of time to hit a little button.

    I really like the red lounge leather interior. That’s a classy yet sporty look. Love the reviews and articles you guys have been putting out lately!

    Drew

  • ichor

    what needs to be fixed for me to give up my ’05 MCS:

    center stack redesign sport button default on exhaust burble back (another knee-jerk MINIUSA thing? it’s always something isn’t it?)

    then i have some problems with the general exterior design but that’s not likely to be fixed, is it – i’d just have to decide to live with it.

    on the whole though, glad to hear the joy is (optionally) still there. and great writeup gabe, thanks! nice to read something from an enthusiast we can trust where we know exactly what you mean.

  • Sam

    Following up with Drew, in order to jump in and drive away, you need to push the START (engine) button…every time, and time and again…. so what is the big DEAL ??? press 2 instead and go…. do not complain people…. have fun !

  • R56LVR

    I’m not quite sold here. Ok, not even close. So what does this magic Sport Button do, exactly to make the car “come alive in a fraction of a second”? My guess is that it only reduces power assist somewhat and modifies the throttle response and torque curve a bit. Does it actually quicken the steering ratio? Does it change valving on the dampers?

    I predict a “Sport On” circuit hack hitting the market soon…

  • Xan

    Gabe

    No one has mentioned the difference in power felt between a R53 with a pulley and the new R56. As you’ve driven the old Cooper, an 05 MCS with pulley, and now the new 07 MCS, I’d really like to hear about the difference in seat of the pants acceleration feel between them.

    It’s really what matters :P -Xan

    P.S. why isn’t the “easiest way tune” this thing not simply dialing in more boost . . . it’s what I suspect everyone is going to do

  • robble

    I’m still wondering about the physical differences between the sports and regular suspensions. Is it JUST a sway bar change or do the shocks and springs change also?

  • GadgetGav

    Like Brian, I’m looking forward to seeing it in person on the 16th at MINI of Peabody. I’ll take Gabe’s word that the center stack doesn’t look as bad in person as it does in pictures but I am still so dissapointed by that one part of the car’s design. It’s almost enough to be a deal breaker for me even getting one of this generation. I’m not planning to replace my 4 year old MCS any time soon, but the look of that lone volume control in a sea of matt black plastic is enough to make me wait another generation. I only hope aftermarket or JCW parts become available to change the look of that area. On another note, how long before Ian make a new version of his circuit that enables sport mode automatically every time you start up..!? ;-)

  • Alex T

    I wonder if the Sport button will one day allow different engine programmings from aftermarket software. ie. One with exhaust burble, more RPMs, and greater boost, one as the MINI default.

  • dwj5

    Gabe and Dave,

    Thank you for the thoughful responses to my previous post. It clarifies some items. I look forward to a drive in the real thing to sort it all out myself!

    I am sticking to my guns about one issue though, despite having not driven an R56…burble is better!

  • http://www.kurtcollins.com kcollins

    May I make a burble suggestion….

    Default – sport mode off, burble off

    Sport button once – sport mode on, burble off

    Sport button twice – sport mode on, burble on

    Wouldn’t that satisfy everyone?

    I was talking to Eric at Helix13 today and he was disappointed that the “burble” is dead in the US market R56. Maybe an enterprising tuner will figure out how to hack the European code and bring the burble back to us in the US.

  • allenski

    thanks for the review…just makes me think what the MINI would be like in 2009? I’m going to enjoy my R53 for awhile. But looks like there’s a lot to look forward to in years to come as the MINI continues with all around improvements.

  • Edge
    May I make a burble suggestion… Wouldn’t that satisfy everyone?

    Actually, no… because then people would complain that the car is defective, because they had to hit the Sport button twice just to turn it off.

    I think that a modified version of the code (borrowing hints from the Euro version, as you suggested) will be the trick. Or maybe, with enough requests, MINIUSA will approve a “burble activated” version of the code to dealers, available upon request (and probably a labor charge to update the ECU). Who knows? But one way or another, I’m sure it will find its way back into some American R56es… those who really want it. :)

  • Drew^3

    How about just add a ‘burble button’ alongside the sport button. Best of all worlds.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Wow – lots of comments here I’m not sure where to start.

    No one has mentioned the difference in power felt between a R53 with a pulley and the new R56. As you’ve driven the old Cooper, an 05 MCS with pulley, and now the new 07 MCS, I’d really like to hear about the difference in seat of the pants acceleration feel between them.

    Great question and I’m glad you brought it up. My 2005 MCS with a pulley, Supersprint exhaust and JCW instake is indeed noticably quicker than the stock R56 MCS. And this is one of the biggest reasons I don’t have a serious desire to rush out to buy an R56. Otherwise I’d be in line with money in hand. THe R56 is that good. Take it from someone whose driven one both on the track and on the road.

  • robble

    Thanks for the update on the pulley vs r56.
    I’ve no doubt that is correct on WOT.

    How do they compare when you’re driving ‘semi-sanely’ around town in lower RPMS with say only half throttle? read: day to day normal driving for some of us?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    How do they compare when you’re driving ’semi-sanely’ around town in lower RPMS with say only half throttle? read: day to day normal driving for some of us?

    R56 hands down.

  • O(=^=)O Capn

    Torque steer? I saw that the drive shafts were of unequal length, how bad is it?

  • rkw

    Gabe, another question about in-town, daily driving performance. How is the low end torque and pickup of the R56 Cooper compared to the S?

  • http://SuperReview Mark

    Thanks Gabe, super review – just the info all us MINIacs needed. Was looking to upgrade my ’04, but this info will make me wait. Very disappointed they did not junk that crappy Aisin six-speed auto trans. With bad knees and hip – I can’t drive a standard for any lenght of time, and I have a long commute each day. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if. with the Clubman or the next gen MINI/BMW gets smart and puts in a decent auto trans. And I don’t see the Aisin six-speed as better than my CVT – I’ve driven both, and the Aisin trans is total junk, performance wise, compared to my CVT in Sports Mode. If they put in a good beefy manual/auto like they do in most cars on the Rally circut, I’d buy one today.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Torque steer? I saw that the drive shafts were of unequal length, how bad is it?

    Not sure what you saw but the R56 has the same suspension and drive shaft design as the R53. So there’s no difference

    Gabe, another question about in-town, daily driving performance. How is the low end torque and pickup of the R56 Cooper compared to the S?

    A little better.

    If anyone has specific questions be sure to post them on the Ask MotoringFile R56 Q&A article that was just posted on the main page.

  • Jon
    Historically the MINI design was specifically aimed at the enthusiast willing to compromise creature comfort amenities for thrilling sports car handling and performance. While I commend BMW for attempting to improve certain facets of “the gem”, I cannot easily reconcile the significant dilution of the car’s experential character.

    By “historically” do you mean since Rover/BMW began the redisign for the new modern MINI? I assume you do as the orginal mini was meant to be an economical “everyman” vehicle.

  • MotoringFileWatch

    Why ask why?

  • mb

    R56 sounds a lot like E36. To some that sounds great, to others it doesn’t. I’ll go to the dealer to give it a whirl.

    mb

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    R56 sounds a lot like E36. To some that sounds great, to others it doesn’t. I’ll go to the dealer to give it a whirl.

    That’s exactly what I thought before driving it. It is and it isn’t. The driving experience is as good as the R53 but it will appeal to a broader range. I feel like BMW learned a lot from making this kind of move 15+ years ago with the E36 and missing the mark.

  • mb

    Gabe – glad you said that. I hope they learned their lesson from the e36, both from a quality standpoint and from performance for the enthusiast driver. I’m also glad that you, the reviewer, have the background knowledge to know what BMW’s m.o. has been in the past, their successes, and their failures.

    mb

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I’ve owned 2 E36s over the years so I know that car’s faults well. They’re great cars but they’re also a good lesson learned.

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Gabe,

    Do you have any idea if there has been a change in the wheel specs? In going thru the MINIUSA “build your own” option they are listing the 16″ wheels as only 6″ wide as oppossed to the previous 6.5″ width.

    On the MINI2 site they are showing them as still being 6.5″ width.

    If they have reduced the width of the 16″ wheels this might explain your impressions that the 17″ wheels offered marked improvement in handling.

  • miniedout

    No matter how much better the new cars performs,it’s new styling just doesn’t cut it.I spend a good amount of time at the chicago auto show checking the car out. I wanted to fall in love with it but just couldn’t, the proportion are way off it.the new front end end make the car look to much like a toy.The wheel arch and tire gap is huge and the center stack is really cheap looking.These are just a few examples.

    I guess I just like my cars to perform as good as they look, like the first generation mini did. Hopefully Gen 3 with bring that back.

  • Shamus

    I’d love for all you pessimists to go back and read your comments when the R53 first came out. I remember alot of griping about the toggle switches, the expanses of cheap gray plastic, the huge circles in the doors. These current comments are just more complaining from people who feel threatened by any change from the R53′s they know, own, and love. Heck, look at the commentaries of the original Mini owners when the R53 came out!

    Besides, no one seems to talk about the massive aftermarket industry for stiffer suspensions, burbly exhausts, ECU flashes, and cosmetic retouches. The ultimate beauty of the MINI is that if you don’t like something, CHANGE IT! The new, new MINI is simply a blank canvas for a really fun, personalized car.

  • Zeelos

    Just drove the first 07 MCA our store received: Hate the exterior looks…was OK with the interior looks. Controls function like a BMW…was blown away by the performance of an MCA–never thought I’d use those words in the same sentence after selling MINI’s for 4 years. We should see an MCS before the day’s end.

  • Jae

    I still do not like the look of the 07 MCS. It’s just too round. The previous generation had very appealing curves but this time they just out did themselves. Sad to see the headlights stuck on the body rather than the hood.

    The only highlight in my mind is the engine. They dump the supercharger and put a turbo for more power. I do not see myself trading in my 05 MCS for a 07 MCS at all. It just doesn’t have that aggressive stance like the previous generation Mini’s have had.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    After spending time with both – I’d actually say the 2007 MCS looks more aggressive. Especially the front.

  • http://www.ferdie.com Ferdinand

    Dear madam, sir,

    I drove this car, a Cooper s 2007 with sportbutton. Unfortunatly, I was not happy. I was 1 r53 owner; that car pleased me very much. The r53 has something pure, that has gone with the r56. The r56 is a modern modest car, that looks like the r53. About the looks, the proportains of the r56 hase been changed compared to the r53 and is very noticable immediatly! These changes are bad for the looks. I am sorry, but I won’t buy this one. The ‘feeling’of the car has gone, although some people say not, but in my opinion it has.

    kind regards, Ferdinand (Holland)

  • http://www.myspace.com/jkjersey Jay K

    I must say after driving the R56 it wasn’t the car I hoped it would be. The car drove like a VW or a A3. It felt like the electronics of the car was driving me even with the DSC turned off. The car in short was lackluster. The rear of the newer 07 models looks much less appealing than the 05′ Cooper S we already own. The shifter sat much higher and just felt like it had more play in it than the previous 05/06 gens.

    I was also VERY dissapointed when the rep told me that there was no intercooler, it didn’t need it. That is when it all became clear to me than this was LESS of an enthusiast car than the previous generations. Sure you get the upfront cool “wow features” such as more options for leather trim the cool new key and push button start. But then as I was flinging the car into corners I wasn’t getting the same grin factor as the previous generation. It appears that BMW had more time to think of where to cut corners in production costs to increase their sales margin and it showed. They put “wow features” in it to maybe refocus attention on areas where it excels but as an enthusiast I look at the basics. As far as I am concerned there is no difference with this car or a plain jain GTI. BMW should have did what Subaru did with the WRX and kept the top mount intercooler or install a FMIC with the turbo. This feature severely limits powertrain modification without some serious kit work or custom fabrication.

    My philosophy is if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. I have drove many sport cars, roadsters, touring coupes. The previous generation had a huge “grin” factor. This new 07 has a more plain jane feel and it did nothing to move me to want it to yearn for it. I mean you have to get an additional option just to get the car’s struts to where it was as a 05/06. That plainly shows that the car is more subdued. The turn in with the older one seemed more go kart like than with the 07. Now on the highway I am sure the new Mini’s longer wheelbase may help with high speed bumps on crappy roads. But hey if that is the tradeoff for a smile on my face so be it.I look for more than torque numbers I look at the car’s potential. I feel this one has less potential.

    One can not help to compare this car since it is bigger now to a wrx… let alone a sti or an evo. Drive one of those hard and drive the new 07 in the same day. And see which one puts a smile on your face. I’ll put my money on the wrx, stis, and evos. Why because they still remain a pure enthusiast car. Let’s not even get into modifying those cars either.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I was also VERY dissapointed when the rep told me that there was no intercooler, it didn’t need it. That is when it all became clear to me than this was LESS of an enthusiast car than the previous generations.

    I’m not sure what car you drove but the 2007 MCS has an intercooler that runs the length of the lower grille.

    The shifter sat much higher and just felt like it had more play in it than the previous 05/06 gens.

    Odd in that the 2007 MCS has the newer generation Getrag 6-speed – a slicker more precise transmission. Are you sure you drove the 2007?

    The previous generation had a huge “grin” factor. This new 07 has a more plain jane feel and it did nothing to move me to want it to yearn for it.

    There’s no way you drove the 2007 MINI. I’m all for differing opinions but that statement is almost impossible to believe.

    The turn in with the older one seemed more go kart like than with the 07.

    Well I can see you didn’t hit the sport button then.

    Now on the highway I am sure the new Mini’s longer wheelbase may help with high speed bumps on crappy roads.

    The wheelbase didn’t change.

  • http://www.myspace.com/jkjersey Jay K

    I just read FrankInMiami’s comment he left on Feb 7, above. What a suprise he left a comment about the 07 feeling similar to a VW GTI. Again this just further shows I am not alone in this. You will have reps wanting to sell the new product and the mini dealerships tout performance and pitch for the enthusiast market. Why do I want to tune or tweak a car that took a step backwards though in the “grin” factor department. People have had very successful results in throwing a turbo kit on the previous generations also. Turbo supercharged imagine that all for a little more than a JCW kit. Check out Helix13, Alta Mini Performance or Fireball for more info.

    “Why is everybody jumping on dwj5’s throat? I think that he has some valid points regarding the ëdgy” or whatever you want to call it character of the MINI. I think Autoweek when they press previwed the car in the Netherlands last year also commented that while the car felt better in most areas they could not help but think that the R56 felt more like a VW GTI (Not a bad benchmark at all) and less than the raspy car it was replacing.”


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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R50 ('02-'06 MC) Buyers Guide
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MotoringFile Reviews

Reviews:
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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