While there’s been a lot of praise for the 2007 MINI on both MotoringFile and elsewhere in the automotive universe, all is note quite perfect with the new car. So in an effort to let you know that you don’t need to sell your MINI and immediately rush down to the dealer to get a new one, here’s the full list of critiques we have with the R56. And for the record, we’re still big fans of the R56. In fact after seeing it and experiencing it on the road and track, we think it’s generally an improvement in almost everyway over the MINI that preceded it. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
* The cheap looking center stack. “What was MINI thinking”… is the common first reaction when people see the R56 interior for the first time. While the redesign is generally very successful, the design and execution of the center stack (above the toggles and below the speedo) screams cheap.
* Steering feel, while great is only about 95% as great as before.
* No Supercharger whine. While this makes for a refined feel, there’s little question some of the visceral excitement gone.
* Steering quickness, again while great it’s at around 95% of where it was before. Will most people notice it? No. Will you still care? Yes.
* The car looks like it sits too high. We’re told it’s not really higher than the R50 or R53 but in this department sometimes looks are more important than reality.
* No pulley like mod to suddenly gain 15 – 20hp. This means that all of us with a pulley on our R53s will find the R56 decidedly slower than our cars.
* No more engine temp gauge. Like most modern BMWs, the new MINIs do not have engine temperature gauges. The idea is that a thoroughly modern engine doesn’t need more than a warning light as they don’t necessarily need to warm up like older less advanced power-plants. We say bah. Give us the info anyway!
* MINI still hasn’t nailed the design on a rear aero kit bumper-cover, and the aero side skirts could do without the little fake ducts (like before).
*The plastic “grilles” in the A-panel that surround the side turn signal are a little clumsy. The Cooper’s is especially awkward. It’s almost as if you’re looking at a caricature of the original on the R50.
* Passenger Door storage is down
* 17″ wheels required. Previously you could get away with anything from 15″s to 18″s and the MINI looked great. Now with the higher beltline and raised hood (all in the name of safety of course) anything under 17″s has a tendency to look awkward. The only OEM exception I’ve found are the 16″ Bridge Spokes.
So now’s your chance to add a few. Although there’s one caveat: you cannot complain about a car you haven’t seen. And you can’t complain about the way the car performs without having driven it. We’re looking for some constructive criticism that MINI can actually look at while they work on the mid-cycle refresh of the R56 due in a few years.
So have at it!