MotoringFile Review: One Week in the 2007 MCS

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This being my third MINI, you’d think the purchase process wouldn’t be that big of an occasion. I surely didn’t expect it to be. Order my car in late May, have a busy couple of weeks, go to Europe for a bit of work and the next thing I know my car would be at the dealer. However as the wait wore on (and on) I found myself more excited to take delivery of my 2007 MCS than any previous MINI. By the time the delivery day finally rolled around, I had never been more thrilled to simply see a new car before.

It may surprise some but most of the color and specification combinations chosen I had never seen before. The Astro Black with the JCW body kit for instance was a combination that had eluded me except for one or two blurry photos I found on the web. Likewise the Black Carbon Lounge leather seating with the piano black dash and Creme White color-line was something I’d never seen before let alone heard of somebody doing. And while I was convinced the combination would be striking, there was still a little apprehension knowing that these were untested waters and that this wasn’t exactly something I could just return if I didn’t like it.

And the entry price wasn’t exactly cheap. The total is certainly more than I had originally planned for. However as the options piled up I realized that, after my 3rd MINI, it was time to get everything I had been wanting. That meant navigation, full leather seating, JCW body-kit, and all the goodies I’ve always shunned in the past. And the result has completely blown my expectations away.

The delivery process was as painless as one could be. I got a call from my Motoring Advisor David Olenick (on his day off mind you) that my car had come in that morning and it would be ready to pick-up that afternoon. After a quick check of my calendar I decided I was able to leave work a few minutes early and catch a train up north to Lake Bluff from downtown Chicago. My wife met me at the station and we drove in from there. Both of us were clearly excited but a touch anxious to finally see this thing we had created.

Upon arrival any fears we had were put to rest. The exterior, the interior, everything had exceeded our expectations. Granted seeing the cars with Crown Spokes on was a little jarring, but that was rectified within minutes of getting it in my garage.

The actual purchase process was only about 10-15 minutes and went as smooth as you could hope for. I can’t recommend Knauz MINI (and specifically David Olenick) enough. David has been my MA since before MotoringFile was even a glimmer in my eye and he’s always treated me the same exceptional way. As MINI owners, we’re lucky to have some great people (enthusiasts really) selling these cars and David easily qualifies as one of the best.

While Knauz handled the delivery process with perfection, that doesn’t mean the car was utterly perfect. And the fault of the few issues all lie with the VPC. For one, the right side of the Aero-kit skirt had a broken plastic clip that didn’t allow for a flush fit. While the fix was simple for Knauz, it should have been caught by quality control at the port after install. Also the iPod adapter was installed in the glove box rather than the much more sensible (and official) iPod storage area above (aka the secret compartment). This means my iPhone will be sliding around until I get the MINI glove-box organizer to secure it.

However with that said the aero kit paint job was (as you would hope) excellent. The color matches perfectly and it looks as if it came from factory in Oxford.

Speaking of the iPod interface, I’ll have a full review in the weeks ahead. However I can say after a week of use, it’s easily worth the money if you rely on your iPod (or in my case an iPhone) as your single source for music. The ability to navigate through playlists, artists, albums, genres and even songs is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced with automotive integration. While the interface can be a little sluggish (more noticeable if you have a large list to scroll through) the overall experience (so far) is quite positive.

The navigation has also been a welcome addition. Beyond the simple fact that I have a constantly updating map, the screen gives me a window into the car’s electronic functionality that is a God-send as compared to the standard LCD interface found on the radio. It also eliminates all of the design and interface issues I have with the speedometer and center stack. Actually eliminates isn’t the word. It transforms this part of the car from “quirky” (at best) to sublime. Again I’ll have more with my long term one month review coming in a few weeks.

The car’s performance has also lived up to expectations. The same performance that I fell in love with on my press car at the Dragon earlier this year is there despite the extra pounds up high with the sunroof. The torque, the eagerness to rev and the slick shifting transmission all combine to give the car an effortless feel that just encourages the kind of hoonage MINIs are best known for. And the exceptional weight transfer with the new aluminum rear suspension makes that wonderful lift-off over-steer predictable and incredibly fun.

However there are still a couple things that I miss with my old R53. The sound for one; the Supersprint exhaust combined with the pops of the ’05 ECU tuning is something truly unique. And while the R56 out generally performs my previous MINI, a little steering feel and is lacking in the new car. And then there’s the tug of the wheel during hard acceleration. With all the torque on tap, the R56 inhibits something hints of torque steer the R53 never had the luxury of dealing with. While it’s certainly not something that interferes with your enjoyment of the car (nor the all-out performance), it does rear its head now and again in hard acceleration around very tight corners.

Yet the car is still a revelation. Just like with my first MINI over five years ago, I found myself looking for errands to run and taking the long (long, long) way home every time. Even just tooling around the neighborhood is a complete joy in this new MINI. The slick shifter and the quick steering make it as fun (and even more so) than any MINI I’ve ever owned at doing.. well practically nothing. Just row the gears and throw it around a few corners and this MINI comes to life like all the others before it.

In the coming weeks look for the more details in my month long review as well thoughts on the car and how it performs at an upcoming BMWCCA track weekend.

Modifications Completed

  • JCW Steering Wheel (leather)
  • JCW Shift Knob
  • JCW leather shift boot
  • JCW leather e-brake boot
  • 18″ OZ Ultraleggeras
  • Removal of factory armrest
  • BMW OEM silver bulbs in all turn signals

Modifications to Come

  • JCW Engine Kit – ETA: Mid August
  • JCW Suspension kit (drops the car 1cm) – ETA: late July
  • Helix Short Shift kit – ETA: Available now, installation in August

For those who may have missed it earlier, you can find a full list of options and accessories ordered with the car below

[ Buying a 2007 MCS: the Order ] MotoringFile [ Buying a 2007 MCS: The Accessories ] MotoringFile

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