MotorWeek Road Tests the R56

Some of you might have caught this on your local PBS stations airing of the show. For those of you that didn’t, here is the written review.

When BMW took the wraps off the second generation MINI Cooper, the press and public alike sounded a sigh of relief. Though slightly larger, designers concentrated on improving rather than changing this modern icon. The old world MINI look remains pleasantly intact. In fact it’s about as close to natural evolution as a car can get.

The MINI Cooper is every bit a coming-of-age cultural phenom as say, Volkswagen’s Beetle. A British-borne classic of the 60’s, the sporty Cooper and Cooper S started out as successful rally cars racers and grew to become worldwide motoring icons.

One of the first reviews that I have seen that compares power output of the turbo charged engine to that of the R53.

The Cooper S is now turbocharged, instead of supercharged, for better efficiency. This 1.6-liter, with common rail direct injection yields 172 horsepower, up 4, with 177 pound-feet of torque, a nice gain of 22.

The turbo is not as responsive off the line as the supercharged engine, but mid-range passing power is smoother and more eager. Still the factory 0-60 time is little changed at 6.7 seconds.

And yet another review that didn’t seem to mind the interior.

[ Road Test ] MotorWeek
  • Bilbo Baggins

    Great work. Thanks for finding that.

  • robble
    The turbo is not as responsive off the line as the supercharged engine


  • robble

    ack got cutoff. Wish we could edit our comments.

    Hello?? That sounds like someone who hasn’t driven it and is going by the old train of thought that superchargers are better than turbos down low. While true in most cases that has been turned around with teh r56. If you compare torque at 2k rpm the supercharger gets slaughtered. The supercharger doesn’t catch up in torque until quite a bit higher in the rpm range.

    I wish I could have an engine with the r56 power from 1.6k-5.5k and the r53 power from 5.5k-7k – and the supercharger whine the whole time.

  • LL

    Actually, I would agree with that assessment as well. When pulling off from stand still, the turbo engine felt a bit more sluggish than the supercharged engine. But then the turbo spools up power very quickly, so once it gets past the initial inertia, it just goes.

    It doesn’t represent a deficiency in the engine or the car itself, but just different engine characteristics, design and tuning.

  • rhawth99

    Climate and auxiliary controls get a stylish if garish tweak.

    I think they did mind the interior changes, at least somewhat. All in all, sounds like they liked the changes. I still hold out hope that the center stack gets a redesign by the time I am ready to trade in my ’06.

  • The Seeker

    “And yet another review that didn’t seem to mind the interior.”

    “The MINI’s signature central speedometer has grown larger, now too large we think, making way for navigation screen and audio controls.”

    At least they didn’t say it was “startling”. If it sounds polite … it’s still way too big.

  • GZ

    When I drove one I felt it was much faster off the line. What’s with all these publications and even the Mini brochure stating 172HP when all I’ve read up to the release is 175HP?

  • MauiMac

    … Any1 Have a link to the video?…

  • MauiMac

    Heres a link to the video version of MotorWeeks R56 road test…

  • Craig
    What’s with all these publications and even the Mini brochure stating 172HP when all I’ve read up to the release is 175HP?

    AFAIK the 172HP rating is SAE HP and the 175HP rating is BHP (brake horse power). They are different standards with different testing methods. They are generaly very similar numbers which causes a lot of confusion.

    If I remember correctly the facelifted R53 is 170 BHP and 168 SAE HP.

  • Your figures are correct Craig.

    I’m a bit mystified regarding their comment saying the turbo isn’t as responsive off the line as the supercharged R53. I remember when my R53 was stock; it was positively a DOG off the line if you let the clutch out at idle [I had the old extra tall gear ratios ’02-’04]. The R56 is no different in that same scenario, but what grandma launches their car like that? The big difference beyond idle is the turbos’ boost threshold is amazingly low, and by 1500RPM, wwooOOOOOOsh it takes off like a banshee.

  • Ralph

    MauiMac, the video link you provided is from an earlier Motorweek show (MotorWeek #2609 November 3, 2006). It isn’t the one they showed last week. The video on was a “Car Keys” Motoreweek episode. It wasn’t Motorweek’s full test drive of the car.

    Last week’s show (MotorWeek #2625 February 23, 2007 – Road Test: The all-new 2007 MINI Cooper S) was an expanded and full Test Drive of the 2007 Cooper S. Motorweek will probably post the Test Drive Video in another couple of weeks.

    Just thought I’d pass that info on.

  • GZ

    Thanks Graig. I guess that’s why the JCW was touted as 210BHP and 207HP.

  • Matt

    Hmm, I don’t know what you guys are talking about, but maybe you guys don’t know the word LAG. I drove the new R56 and there is LAG off the line, plain and simple. Why do you think they have to say “virtual” no lag, because it still has lag!! Drive a Saab turbo or WRX, then you’ll see what off-the-line sluggishness is, and guess what folks, the R56 seems like it has the same problem toned down.

  • Nextmoon

    I drove the R56 MCS and it does decidely has some lag from the get go. Also the car felt a little sluggish in the upper powerband, but I probably need to go back and drive it again to confirm my seat of the pants impressions.

    Cars is fast and torquey but the old Supercharged engine is no slouch either.

    Ryephile, I agree that the ’02-’04 MCS with the ultra tall gear ratios felt very lacking off the line. In ’05 MINI remedied this problem (In my view) when the gear ratios were shortened and the car was shot with 8HP more and a few pounds feet of torque.

    Personally, I am biased towards Supercharged engines (Durability in the long term is better than Turbos) but I do recognize the advantages presented by turbocharged engines, including fuel efficiency and power. But I am too adicted to the Supercharger whine!