MINI Comes in Last in JD Power Quality Survey

JD Power has released their latest initial quality survey and the MINI came in (drum roll) dead last. The survey asks owners about mechanical and design problems they experience in the first 90 days of ownership.

It’s a bit of a shock to us considering the perceived increasing quality we had seen in other surveys. Jim McDowell was on CNBC this morning talking both about the expanded dealership offerings as well as MINI’s very low initial quality.

  • Bor

    I didn’t have any issues (yet, knock on wood) with my late 2007 R56, but I’ve been surprised lately by the number of threads on NAM about different problems – especially with the new factory JCW.

  • Jim W.

    Can it be that the initial quality, as perceived by MINI owners, is less than Smart, Hummer, Jeep, and Land Rover???

    The R56 must be a bit less satisfying than my ’06 MCS, with 30,000 very happy miles. Or are we as MINI owners expecting perfection?

    By the way, interesting defense of the MINI by Jim McDowell from MINI USA this morning on CNBC…

  • 25k miles and 2 years later in my 07 R56, zero problems aside from two replaced windshields. Of course, now that I’ve said that my car probably won’t start tomorrow morning, right? 🙂

  • Here’s the link to the CNBC clip (thanks Jim W. for noting it 🙂 ):

  • dr

    Yet, customer satisfaction is still among the highest. My first service visit had sticky notes placed all over the car for minor issues. Squeaks or rattles and the service bulletins that alert enthusiasts were aware of. The service rep, chuckled and said they had never seen that before. My one visit probably ticked away 10 or more issues that would accumulate on the JD power survey. The point I would like to make is that though the MINI certainly has had a host of little issues, I could not be more satisfied with the car and have had no major mechanical issues. Additionaly it should be noted that I had higher expectation of quality than I would from any domestic appliance.

  • I’ve had tons of problems with my ’04 MCS… then again, all of which were resolved reliably and professionally by the MINI dealership network. To be honest, a new Lamborghini would probably be just as riddled with rattles, creaks and other little foibles and issues. Yet, it’s still a super-premium brand, and people will forever pay a premium for that experience. I think that a true MINIac would be willing to overlook those small faults in exchange for all of the wonderful things that come with our fantastic little cars.

    That being said, I do find it strange that we ranked so low… every R56 MINI I’ve ever had the privilege to drive has been excellent- refined, smooth, and remarkably well built. In comparison to my ’04, the materials seem chunkier and better designed, and the car as a whole feels more planted and stable. Boo, J.D. Power!!

  • that.guy

    Well done, MINI. Good show and all that.

  • JonPD

    Guessing the death rattle knock on the R56 that has been resolved weighed in large on this.

  • Torobud

    As many times as I have been back to the dealer with my late ’07 R56 I can’t say this surprises me…

  • that’s bad.

  • Hoover

    I have mixed feelings about this. I can’t see how this won’t adversely affect sales in this market. Along with a need for increase in size (we had a baby), build quality and reliability are the reasons I bought a Honda Civic sedan last time around instead of the MINI. But now, one cracked engine block later coupled with a week of car rental fees has me regretting my decision. I have no passion for the Civic. I don’t read any of the Civic forums. It is an appliance to me, nothing more. Had I bought the MINI, if I had a problem of the scale that I had with the Civic, I would have at least had a loaner vehicle, and I would still have a love for the car.

    I don’t appreciate the “adjustment” spin offered by Jim McDowell of MINI USA–I think the reaction of the guy on CNBC is similar to how most consumers would react to this news. So, I think this is problematic for those considering their first MINI purchase, but less of an issue for those who have experience with the brand. How ironic to announce the expansion of the dealer network at the same time that this survey may dampen sales.

  • Marty

    I have had nothing but problems with my 07 R56. In fact, it just finished a one month stint in the shop for engine problems. I am leasing this car and I am giving it back at the end of the lease. Don’t get me wrong, I love to drive it- it drives like you are leaving the scene of a bank robbery- but no car is worth this trouble.

  • RJ

    I’m not sure that I really believe the spin expressed by McDowell that new MINI owners just don’t really understand their cars and that’s why MINI is ranked dead last. Sounds like something the Marketing folks came up with….I wonder if JD Powers provided MINI with the actual concerns articulated by the customers so that MINI can take steps to rectify any issue(s).

  • scotteast

    I took delivery of my 2009 R56 MC in February. The car has been perfect mechanically, but I did slam the poorly designed radio controls when I filled out my JD Power survey. As much as I love the car, that is one aspect that totally sucks.

  • I had to visit the dealer an hour a way for no less that 5 visits under a year of owning the car. cam chain tensioner (twice) passenger window stopped working 3 times attempted to fix the sunroof sticking when hot replaced the clutch. lots of rattles.. i sold the lemon and purchased a new 135i a month ago. I also received the JD power questionnaire. I was not kind to MINI.

    I really liked the car as a whole, but not all those trips.

  • My 2007 R56S has been nothing but problems. I was willing to accept certain truths about R56 like the poor interior controls layout mentioned by Jim McDowell, but the worst problems I’ve had have nothing to do with that.

    In just the FIRST year of ownership I’ve already had numerous quality issues, the likes of which are generally considered in this report. I’ve got an entire new timing chain system, a new clutch assembly, second set of oddly-worn tires, seemingly unfixable rattles in the dash, suspension, tailgate and door, and heat-fractured fog lamps. What the heck? This is supposed to be a new car!

    Granted, the big issues were all covered under warranty, but I can’t help but think of the money MINI lost on my car, let alone all the others that have had to be fixed. I love my MINI to death, but comparing it to my 60,000 mile issue-free first-gen Subaru, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed.

  • Ralph

    I’ve owned my R56 Justacooper for just slightly under a year (first year anniversary at the end of this month!) and have had one major and some smaller minor issues.

    1st, the clutch’s pressure plate was defective. Dealer replaced the clutch kit free of charge. 2nd, my passenger auto up window was acting kind of funny… dealer resolved that issue. 3rd, there are squeaks and rattles everywhere, and some panels are loose which either I tightened myself or were resolved by the dealer, but anyway, I removed my muffler and the sound of the exhaust overpowers them.

    4th? I replaced a perfect 2006 Honda CR-V with 36000 issueless miles, and guess what? I STILL love my MINI and always will!

  • Roccorocket

    After 5 WEEKS in the shop in the first 10 months, we are waiting for our new “3 Series”, and the list keeps growing. The latest it the passenger door will not operate half the time.

    I have an R53. Still driving it and still loving it. I don’t see another MINI in my future, ever! They never should’ve messed with it.

  • jp

    MINI quality has been an issue, with me, on my 07 R56. It’s been in the shop four times with two serious electronic issues which took a total of six weeks to resolve and two minor issues. This has dampened my enthusiasm for the car, but not my overall satisfaction with it. That said, Jim McDowell’s explanation bordered on being inane. MINI should realize that a dead last ranking will ultimately hurt sales and tarnish the image of MINI. I’ll bet those new Fiat execs in Detroit are toasting a Cinzano to Jim McDowell and all others who dreamed those excuses.

  • Gary

    Our MINI 09 Clubman is about 60 days old and so far zero problems. This study is interesting considering the Consumer Reports Car issue from back around March of this year had MINI rated quite near the top, not last.

    I guess it just proves if you ask the right group of people the right questions you can get any survey to give you any answer you want.

  • jarrett

    This reminds me of the quality concern when the r53 came out. the mini community has always been more responsive and vocal to concerns than other vehicle owners, we tell out dealers and miniusa whats wrong. we want improvement, we gripe and we expect a perfect car. i am not downplaying those of you who have had genuine problems, but i have seen this before with consumer reports and i expect we will see it again. i have 88000 on my 04 mini cooper and look forward to another (knock on wood) 88000, and when it craters as all cars do, hopefully the diesel will be here.

  • Dr Obnxs

    Let’s put this in (some) perspective. The best had 0.84 problems per car, and Mini had 1.65 problems per car. While this is a factor of 2 between the best and the worst, it’s still quite a tight grouping.

    I’m not that surprised with the ranking, it’s dissapointing to come in “last” but overall, all of the cars are doing pretty well.


  • Timothy

    I’m glad to see that MINI is working hard to make the car more British.

  • 07 R56 Cooper S: 3 new engines, 4 attempted engine fixes so it’s hard for me to disagree with these results.

  • alpinamike

    Lots of new owners, and lots of people who are from the american/japanese ergonomics, they are not used to things , want them they way they do, and complain in large numbers. I remember people complaining in 05′ about the rear visiblity of the Convertible, no super gulp cupholders, and in 02 about the large speedo being in the center, so you can see as you look back you know who kept them and who sold them for a daily eco box.

    BTW: Jim Mcdowell nice interview, he is always in a good mood. Mike from Signing MTTS MINI 06 and 08 says hi!

  • Fred

    Surveys are contrived humbug.

  • Jim McDowell is a Steve Jobs wanna be?

  • Hai

    Driving my ’04 MINI is SUPER FUN! However, because of the hell that I’ve gone through to maintain the car, I’m firm to say that this was my first and will be my last MINI. When people talk to me and show interest in getting one, I always tell them to stay away unless they have tons of cash to throw away.

  • rhawth99

    MINI is marketed as a premium small car and hence the expectation is that it is a high quality vehicle and well screwed together. In the case of many Clubmans and MCS, folks are paying near or over $30K. That should buy one a vehicle that doesn’t rattle and has no mechanical issues. Yes, MINIs are an appealing package of handling and performance, but there is no denying the fact that MINIs have had more than their share of issues. I hope that the non-marketing people in the MINI corporate hierarchy are less dismissive of not only the JD Powers survey but also any issues that MINI owners report to their dealerships.

  • JMills

    These cars definitely have their problems, now I haven’t had any major issues, and have 76,000 miles on mine. But, there have been enough little issues, that I usually don’t recommend the car when people ask me about it. For me the pros outweigh the cons, and I still love the car, but I think I’m more tolerant, and mechanically inclined enough to fix some of issues myself. I’ve owned other cars that have been absolutely perfect for 150,000 miles, and I think a lot people expect that now in a car. MINI really needs to get control of this, because it’s a mix of electrical and mechanical issues, and perhaps most worrysome is just simple bad engineering.

  • fdavid

    This is my second MINI but my first was a very nice R53 and there was something to deal with in regards to noises, cracked windshield, burned lights, dead alternator on a trip from NYC to Toronto. So every other month I had some werid surprise but I still loved the car. Now the JCW 2009 seems better as far as quirks, but for example the hood scoop bent the first time I went for a drive that lasted more than 1hr. The car is so much better than my previous mini, nevertheless this is my last mini for sure. Moving on to fully BMW’s or even Audi’s!! Any of you on the same boat as far as moving on from Minis?

  • Evan

    My dad has a 2009 R56. It’s been 9 months without any issues over 22k miles. These surveys are an okay at best evaluation. MINI owners overall expect more. I’ve been in new Civics and Camrys with rattles and poor finish in places. And they aren’t even good drives like a MINI. Take our 1999 dodge grand caravan with 260k miles and no major problems; on a warm day it’s basically rattle free. And that’s a known disaster as reliability goes. My ’04 MC is awesome, solid and after 64kiles has had only one suprise.

    I’ll take the fun of a MINI any day over a ho-hum “reliable” car.

  • Chris B.

    Hmmm. I’ve also noticed BMW’s position in the survey has moved down a bit as well. Perhaps BMW’s Marketing department has taken over engineering too? Most of the problems mentioned seem to be coming from those with ’07 models and that surely comes as no surprise. It’s the FIRST MY, such teething issues are and should be expected. The risk you take I guess?

  • Veggivet

    Are we sure this survey wasn’t taken by Classic Mini owners?

  • SFRedMCc

    I’ve had my Clubman (automatic) exactly 1 year with no problems at all, and my first service isn’t scheduled until 4/2010. It’s driven every day; but so far I only have 5,500 miles on it, including one road trip to Oregon when I first got it, and on that trip I got aprox. 31 MPG.

    My only complaint is the poor gas mileage in the city which is only 17.6 MPG with the sport button, and 18.9 without. It must be because my short 5-mile, 25-minute commute to work in the morning is all stop and go, up and down hills, and never over 30 MPH. Still better than being bumper to bumper on the freeway. My trip home; however, is by the freeway and is 10 minutes at 70 MPH. Except for the mileage, it’s the perfect car for San Francisco, and it is great when I do get on the freeway, fun to drive and very comfortable. We do have a lot of MINI’s in SF, plus we even have 4 – MINI dealerships in the Bay Area (within 20-30 miles), if you happen to need one.

  • Just watched the video and Jim McDowell’s comments are shockingly patronizing effectively blaming customers for “not getting” the car hence the low rating.

  • Ian

    Considering these cars are being sold as “premium” cars the expectations are going to be higher. I believe MINI should focus on the car being a small, hip economy car rather than a high priced premium car. Sure have the dizzying options. In my state it’s difficult to find a MINI without a sun roof and options you don’t need. You have to build it. Well, maybe me. We need the MINI One and the D in the states to broaden the range while still preserving the brand. Before the economy tanked it was by appointment only and they would show you the door if you thought about questioning the price.

    My 04 Cooper BRG creaks and rattles but it’s character is unique. There has been a rash of consumer warnings about small cars in an industry that predominately sells guzzlers and large SUV’s that most people don’t need or can’t handle. I smell conspiracy, but I always do. Maybe the safety of these cars or lack thereof are due to huge SUV’s on the road. If I going to trust anyone I’ll trust Consumer Reports over JDP any day of the week.

    There is no shortage of people complaining across brands. Rovers are crap and people still buy them for image.

    MINI has a new audience and I have seen a rash of MINIs on the road. New people bring new complaints to a new platform. A lot of new owners know nothing of the car or the history and will flip them as easily as a buckwheat pancake. Go by a Toyota with a Lexus emblem.

    I didn’t own a car with power windows until 2001 so yeah I’m different. Too many bells and whistles. Give me a bare bones MINI and I would be just as happy. I want to see a MINI lot where most of the MINIs are not predominately over 25k.

  • pete diszak

    Overheating doesn’t = adjustment

  • Chris B.

    Ian has an excellent point, and again I believe this all comes back to the level of marketing muscle BMW AG uses to push product. It’s almost like MINI is telling customers you don’t have a real MINI unless you spec the car to the nines and take advantage of the whole you-i-fication process. Which in reality is boosting BMW’s profits on each MINI it sells, and for this reason I say your bare bones, old school and content reduced MINI is a thing of a dream and shall remain so.

    Back to the topic of discussion: More alarming for me is what all of this means for longevity, because lets not forget these cars have sealed transmissions and other parts full of “life time fill” fluids and liquids that surely won’t last a “lifetime”, And these cars are suppose to be future classics…

  • KipperFillets

    This survey does show MINI’s have a problem.

    It may not be that they are any worse than other cars, but negative customer satisfaction and image can be just as damaging.

    Expectations are probably the cause of such a low score though. You pay a lot for a small car, you expect it to be better than a bigger car for the same price.

    Similarly, the owner demographic may be a factor. MINI owners are possibly more “car-aware”. You buy one for the driving experience, not practicality, and I suspect they are expecting to have fun from owning one. If you’re just buying a car for basic transport, you may not be so put off by problems.

    I once knew an old boy who bought a new Skoda. He praised it to the skys, because; 1) He never did over 30mph so didn’t hear rattles. 2) He said the service department was excellent because “Every time I take it back, they repair it without quibble”.

  • Fred

    Q: Did you note any mechanical defects in the first 1000 miles?

    A: Yes

    (The floor mat slipped.)

    Q: Did you have any disappointments in the quality of construction?

    A: Yes

    Q: The power outlet in the boot is mounted in flexible material.

    (Okay, 2 problems in the first 1000 miles! MINI drops to last ranking.)

  • Fred

    Critiques of surveys are crap, too. Note my own!

  • Bob H.

    Well… it seems to me that there are several good points to being dead last. There are really only two posible ways to go in the next survey. We stay the same, (yikes!!) or we move up (Yeah, thats what I’m talking about). Expectations being what they are, I would expect MINI to move up in the next survey…

  • Mk1

    Since my MINI spent 10% of its life in the repair shop, not surprised at all. There is a reason for the “free” service and service loaner cars. Without them no one would put up with its terrible repair record.

  • Chad

    Hey, we’re going to have 20% more places to get them fixed, right?

  • Papafox

    First of all, most Americans are not car enthusiasts, outside of the car being a social statement of some kind. Most Americans want to get in their cars, turn them on, and not think much more about it. That’s why half of us drive SUV’s and the other half Camry’s, Honda Accords and Porsche 911’s with an automatic.

    I own a 07 MINI R56 and I have had a few minor problems with my car and I only have 13K on the car. (Cold start issue, crappy floormats, seat cover stitching coming apart, melting bonnet, and now an intermittant sunroof switch) I still love my car and do not intend to get rid of her. That being said, the average person would be quite annoyed with all of the problems I’ve had and be totally put off the car. (I had a GTI a few years back and I am used to these kind of problems.)

    That being said, I’ve owned many other makes of regular cars (domestic and foreign) with not nearly the amount of problems this car has had so far in their entire lifetime with me. I believe the average customer coming froma Honda, Toyota or even a Chevy would not find the problems many of us endure acceptable. BMW needs to address these issues if they really want to expand significantly in the USA, remember MINI is really still a niche player in the automobile market in the US.

  • C4

    I have had problems with my ’05 MCS, namely the clutch assembly that was replaced twice under MINI’s dime. The engine-a/c fan 2 speed failed effectively cooking my A/C compressor ($1,700 repair out of pocket) and the crappy rubber suspension bushings that had to be replaced with Powerflex (better quality) ones to the tune of $700 out of pocket.

    No other problems with the car in terms of powertrain, electric/electronics but they are irritants (and every expensive) ones nevertheless. The car runs fine and never left me stranded.

    Now, the 2008 Clubman S has been good (so far) but have had the following irritants taken care of under warranty:

    • Both door sill plates came unglued and got smashed/mangled by the doors. Nearly every Clubman owner I now have had this problem.

    • Wrinkles on the side bolsters of the front sport leathrette seats

    • Rearview mirror assembly frame fell off twice

    • Clubdoor latch mechanism getting stuck twice

    I still think the MINI is a solidly built car, but these vehicles do have their fair share of problems and I think these problems can be traced back to poor/inconsistent quality control problems and an assembly line that is building way too many cars, too fast.

    Something is got to give, somewhere.

  • jimskater

    I had warranty issues out the %$# on my 03, 04 & 06 cars, especially in the first 90 days of ownership.

    On the Clubbie, 100+ days in? None.

  • Richard

    ’03 MCS- 1 problem in 5 years-alternator ’08 MCS- many problems in 1 year- electrical issues, window issues, cold start issues, radio issues.

    Still love the car though.


    Hi Everyone. Let’s do the math. The survey rates problems per 100 vehicles. MINI is at an unfair advantage here. MINI say for example sells 55,000 cars in one year. Toyota or Ford for example does that amount of volume in one model line. MINI is a glimmer in the eye of a lot of these manufacturers eyes with respect to the amount of volume they do. 100 vehicles for MINI relative to the total amount of cars we sell is a much larger impact than 100 vehicles for any of the larger auto manufacturers. Even our corporate cousins at BMW. Think about it all.

  • Brian
    Hi Everyone. Let’s do the math. The survey rates problems per 100 vehicles. MINI is at an unfair advantage here. MINI say for example sells 55,000 cars in one year. Toyota or Ford for example does that amount of volume in one model line. MINI is a glimmer in the eye of a lot of these manufacturers eyes with respect to the amount of volume they do. 100 vehicles for MINI relative to the total amount of cars we sell is a much larger impact than 100 vehicles for any of the larger auto manufacturers. Even our corporate cousins at BMW. Think about it all.

    With that math its actually worse for MINI. That means that they produce alot less cars than everyone else, yet they have more problems than manufactures that make 5 times as many cars.

  • here here to everything! i do have to say about the comment of what people like and don’t like in the reports… we’re sorry for most people being used to unsafe driving! most people in a manual car would rather have both of their hands go away from the steering wheel, we’re sorry for making an intuitive decision to put the window controls in the middle where your right hand does most of the work (aka shifting) and leaving your left hand to stay on the wheel more often.. sorry for being smart, we’ll change that next time and be like every other economy sedan ><… i sure hope everyone reads into that with sarcasm! because COME ON! if you follow the break in period then your car is GOLDEN! but unfortunately most americans don’t take the time to let their car break in and would rather just beat on it right away, making the car not reliable as it would be without the immediate beating. i have an 07 R56 S, the thing runs like a god! no problems, EVER! not one! unless the break wear sensor popping out once is considered a HUGE problem, god forbid we go back to the dealership and just get it popped in again… that whole 15 minutes is a serious waste of my time… as for the rest of the car… i don’t think it’s fair to say a car is bad by first impressions! i have to say for having my car two years in 3 weeks, and putting 47,435 miles on it, and having NO problems the entire time… THAT”S A DAMN GOOD CAR! no one should say otherwise! AND TO TOP IT OFF, when driven very gently and cruise control at 65MPH, I GET 53.4MPG!!!!! WHAT OTHER PERFORMANCE CAR CAN SERIOUSLY DO THAT WITH THE PIZZAZ OF THE MINI?!??!?! i personally say none! if an RX-8 was able to get that fuel economy and didn’t need to rebuild the engine every 60k miles then maybe that would beat the mini…

  • Chad

    Let’s do the math? Ummm… Yeah, you might want to leave the math to JDP here…

    165% is the same no matter what size company you are.

    That’s like saying 1/3 has a unfair advantage/disadvantage over 9/27.

  • zm

    no surprise here. the quality issue is what keeps me on the brink of replacing my mini w/ something else.

  • barice

    Okay, let’s do some numbers. I’m post #48. I’ve had my share of problems with my 07 R56 MCS. Up to this point, and including me, there are a total of 17 posts from people who have something negative to share about their MINIs. That is 35.4% of all posts here!!. C’mon!, no wonder “we” came in dead last! Now, MINIs are marketed as “premium” cars. They usually cost us north of 25K. And yet they perform (in overall quality, that is) worse than a non-premium, half priced Honda Civic (????). My 1992 Honda Civic, and later my 2005 Honda CR-V never gave me the grief this MCS is giving me. But yes, this MCS is way more fun to drive, that’s true. I can’t buy the argument that the more serious issues my car has had/is having is explained with the “first model year” claim. As a mechanical engineer, I am more inclined to believe in sloppy engineering/manufacturing reasons for such a poor performance in overall quality. My car is at the dealer. They will finally fix (I hope) the dreaded cold start death rattle. They will also have to take a look at a noise the clutch has developed. By the way, the clutch has already been replaced as it was whining upon downshifting. Its clutch release bearing is tappetting more and more, giving the this “premium” car’s engine a rough tone. Not to mention all the creaks and rattles. This unit has been at the dealer more times than all my previous automobiles and motorcycles, combined. I had enough. I’m hoping the dealer will do a decent job so I can go ahead and get rid of it. As the french say, c’est fini. And as per Jim McDowell, please, don’t insult our intelligence. Barice

  • This survey does not may any sense at all! My sister owns a HUMMER and she’s had MORE issues with it, than I did with my MINI. She wants to rid of that thing! I love my 2007 MINI S. Sure, I’ve had issues with my car, but the only major issue I had with my car was that stupid emission sensor malfunction, and that’s it! It’s close to 40,000 miles and no issues at all!

  • Doug

    Our 2004 R50 is a member of the family and has been trouble-free, but c’mon MINI, you can do way better.

  • My ’05 MCS has been pretty much trouble-free but I’ve held off on moving to a new one given some of the issues I’ve read about here and on NAM. SO this report doesn’t really surprise me … but really now … LAST ? Maybe it’s time to start looking elsewhere …

  • Hey barice,

    If this helps, my head mechanic (whom I actually trust), says the tappeting you’re hearing in the clutch won’t go away no matter how many they put in. Turns out it’s the dual-mass flywheel. In our cars, the actual flywheel has the spring-dampened friction surface, not clutch plate like in ‘normal’ cars. When you put it in neutral and ease off the clutch pedal, the assembly closes together like you’d expect, but there’s a little back and forth movement between the metal flywheel and the friction surface from the springs, which is exacerbated by the engine’s firing pulses, causing the chattering.

    Apparently, the only way to get rid of it is to pop in any normal, aftermarket clutch system where, in the neutral/clutch pedal released position, the spring dampener assembly is locked down tight and isolated from the timing pulses.

    Hope that helps with the problem 🙂

  • ausalan

    It’s too bad that JC Powers doesn’t release more information from the survey — the results are pretty worthless as they are, since they don’t distinguish between defects (something that doesn’t work as MINI intended) and design idiosyncrasies. It would be nice to see those categories separated, and to see statistics (mean, median, standard deviation) for each. Is MINI’s low score more a result of a few highly-defective cars, or a bunch of people who hate the radio controls and center console design?

    And why is “quality” measured only by the number of problems? Of the 12 cars I’ve owned in my lifetime, the one with the fewest number of problems was a Saturn, but I’d never call it a “high-quality” car. It was clearly designed for customers with low expectations, and it meets them nicely. My R53 ranks in the middle on the problem scale, but near the top when I balance positives and negatives.

  • zm

    just watched the vid. you suck, mcdowell. why not fess up that mini has a problem & you’re going to do something about it? wait, everyone in here is complaining about idiosyncrasies…(engines, clutches, …)

  • jz

    Frankly, I think MINI tries to cram too much technology into a small package and has a lot of low bidder suppliers to contain costs and thus the chance for inferior components. The simpler engineered and less poweful MC has historically had far fewer problems than the MCS. My 06 MC has been pretty flawless.


    How embarassing. Coming in last and with authority.

    MINI needs a mid-cycle management refresh and they can start with that clown Jim.

    No mention about improving quality/responsiviness the typical corporate speak of a company that lacks commitment to their buyer or their product. Instead they choose to blame the consumer because we don’t “get it” ?! What a douche bag. I bet that clown never spent one minute behind the desk of a service writer. If he did, maybe he would “get it”.

    Last place and lame excuses?!

    Get real MINI

  • C4

    In despite of some of the post-warranty issues I have had with my ’05, I still love the car to bits and have no plans to trade or sell. I think this is a very engineered product marred by some OEM parts that were made to last the length of the warranty (nothing more).

    I am fast approaching 60K miles and the car looks, feels and drives like new. Better than new thanks to the Powerflex urethane bushings I had installed earlier this year that bring the steering feel and response to a whole new level.

    I don’t expect any MINI exec to come out in national TV and admit that the product they manufacture and sell indeed has QC problems. But on the other hand, it is ludicrous to come out and say that the low quality scores are due mostly to people that “don’t get” the character and demeanor of the car. Sorry Jim, I don’t buy that (I think you are very nice guy and a true gentleman) in a million years.

    I have owned nothing but MINIs in the past 7-8 years and they all have served us extremely well. Fortunately, we haven’t had the more severe problems others have reported over the years. Some of the QC quirks are indeed irritating for a product that boasts BMW manufacturing and design prowess. But the cars are so damn fun to drive that they are well worth it keeping them in tip top shape long after the warranty period expires. But for others, the issues these cars may or may not have are something they don’t to put up with, considering the money paid and the inconvenience of booking dealer service and dealer location (Which is still a big problem for owners that live hours away from an authorized dealer).

    BMW knows well that the MINI hasn’t been a 100% stellar car in the QC department. Having owned samples from different production years, I have a sense that they have continually improved the product. My 2004 MCS was much better bolted together than the 2002 we had first and so on.

    But problems persist. Why? Too many cars being churned out? Pressures to cut costs to keep afloat? Keep and increase profit margins at any cost? Whatever the reason is, the problems with the product are real and will become harder to justify in the eyes of the consumer public as prices continue to climb.

    Yes we love our cars Jim, you are correct about that. But I know my next MINI will be over US$30K and I want that car to be as good and better than the one it will be replacing.

  • C4
  • Ramón

    This report, coupled with the above comments thru personal experience, are really disturbing to me. I’ve been stashing cash, looking forward to buying a MINI, but now I don’t know if it’s good idea. I live in San Francisco, I would drive the car daily on city streets that are typical of urban environments. There is a definite increase in MINIs in the city.

  • ausalan

    I think McDowell’s response is pretty lame, but unlike us, he has access to the survey details. Maybe it’s true that after 90 days of ownership, the majority of the 165 reported problems per 100 MINIs are “design related problems” rather than “defects and malfunctions”.

    JD Power has another survey that covers reliability of 3-year-old vehicles. The 2009 survey (covering 2006 model year vehicles) ranks MINI 25th out of 37 brands.

  • Hey Ramon, I’ve got over 20,000 miles here in San Francisco, mainly city driving, and I love it! My 2007 R56 has had it’s share of troubles, but mine is the first year of this car and with it comes a certain amount of crap. From what I read, most of the issues seem to have been dealt with on the 2009+ models. After my issues were fixed, my only current gripe is a rattle in the tailgate. In every other regard, the car has been perfect for the city. Parking’s a breeze, it’s zippy as hell, and I’m averaging 29mpg in the city, 36 highway, with a Cooper S. Even now, knowing what I know about the car, I still wouldn’t buy anything else!

  • Scott

    This ranking is why I traded in my 2007 cooper s after 7000 miles and 4 service trips to the nearest dealer away – 250 miles round trip. If the dealer was within 30 miles I would still be driving today. Instead I have had an 08 GTI for 12 months and not one service call to the dealer 4 miles away. Mini needs to wake up and expand its service network to BMW dealers (2) miles from my house. If this was allowed, would still be driving the Mini. Their growth strategy is flawed.

  • robble

    There are other categories in the same survey that haven’t been talked about.

    TOP 10 in vehicle quality – yes there is a generic vehicle quality question and MINI ranked in the top 10. Top 10 in Solid and Durable construction of vehicle Top 10 in vehicle overall Ranked #2 in “will definitely recommend”

  • collin

    Well I’ll say it like this. There are def problems with the Mini and I hope JIM and the Mini team will realize this and fix them soon. My mini alone has been in the shop over 30 times in the last 2 years and I’m actually in a loaner and have been in one going on 2 months now for a timing chain tensioner issue. 2 months!!!! I do agree they have worked many bugs out of the Mini but there are still some MAJOR bugs lurking around that they need to fix. I still LOVE driving my mini though and it hasn’t deterred me from buying another one..

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  • Martin Bell

    MINI came 3rd in its class in the 2009 UK’s JD Power Survey results just published in Autocar magazine this week, (1st was Honda Jazz and 2nd Toyota Yaris.)

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  • jk

    MINI I hope you are listening.

    The issues people are having are real and cost a lot of money and time. I love the MINI when its working but people have to stop saying oh its so fun to drive so thats an excuse to put up with these mechanical and electrical issues. idiosyncrasies?

  • Bruce Walker

    I had to decide in early August of 2006 if I wanted to go with the ’06 or with an ’07 MC. Really liked the instrumentation on the 2006 much better, and the more I investigated, the more I was convinced buying a first model year with a new engine/transmission probably wasn’t a great idea. Hence ordered one of the last 2006 models manufactured. Mine has been solid as a rock without any rattles or other surprises. 68,000 miles and the only repair of note was $225 for a motor mount a few months ago. That said, the model change-over reminded me a lot of what Motobecane did with the Mirage; -the 1978 bicycle was a classic, the 1979 had all sorts of corners cut and wasn’t even a shadow of the earlier version even though it cost more. Also worth noting Motobecane is no longer in business.