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F56 MINI Hits US Dealers This Weekend

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It’s time for the launch parties and test drives. In fact dealers on the east side of North America have had several F56 delivered and we’ve heard more than a few readers have already gotten behind the wheel.

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Here’s a quick sample of MF reader Sal and his first drive:

I got to test drive my F56 Cooper S, last night. It arrived at the dealership early. It is unbelievably improved. It is a tighter more comfortable ride than the R56 S yet the engine is a revelation of refinement and power. I have owned two R56’s, an S hatch and a Clubman S. This is definitely a totally different car.

What about you? If you’ve driven or seen the F56 in person let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and don’t forget the photos.

Written By: Gabe

  • chrissamyn

    I delivered my first pre spec mini cooper f56 deep blue white roof on monday the 24 of marche in quebec the client is in love with the car

    • Chris

      Just drove the Cooper 3 cyl automatic. In a word, phenominal. Two completely different cars when switching between sport and eco. Love the start stop feature, and I am really suprised how well the automatic drives. Forget how it looks (I have owned three R53’s and an R56, all manuals), you will get over all of that once you spend about 30 seconds. The 3 cyl feels as fast as my R56 (n14). The seats are awesome, really like the thigh bolsters. The “new car” smell in the F56 smells exactly like a new VW. seating position and steering feel are very improved, as the reviews thus far have mentioned. I still want to drive both examples with a manual. Although I have always been an “S” man, I might consider the Cooper this time around!

      • glangford

        I was hoping somebody drove the 3 cylinder. If I get back behind the wheel of a Mini, it will be with that variant. Nice to know it drives well. I got rid of my R56 and moved up to a 3 series, but as nice as the 3 is, I still miss my Mini sometimes. I’ll give it a couple of years and see if reliability has improved and them maybe…

        • RacerX

          I was lucky enough to spend considerable time in the 3-cyl Twin Power Turbo Cooper automatic and Cooper manual a few weeks back and was really blown away with the performance of each combination. Driving some pretty twisty mountain roads in the automatic in sport mode was amazing and you would be fooled to think you were driving an S. It is astonishing to me that this is the same AISIN 6-speed auto with a programming update and a few tweaks. The manual was great as well with a light and early clutch take up, but responsive feel. As an S owner, I would probably lean toward a manual Cooper for the extra mpgs and engine growl next time around. The refinement of these new engines will win over any current MINI owner and yes, you will forget whatever issues you have with the exterior looks.

      • Gary

        Two favorable performance reviews in this conversation-thread, and both suggest we should “forget how it looks” and that “we’ll get over it?”

        Sitting in the driver’s seat, I felt like I was in a Jaguar E type. The bonnet just seems to go on forever…

  • sugurunishioka

    Looks like MINI SF got one S and one Justa on the floor sometime this week. Only had chance to see from outside after the business hours. Will try to get get behind the wheel soon, or at least sit in it.

  • Ninja636

    We got our F56 S on Wednesday (in the UK). It is actually our 8th MINI having had 2 R50s, 3 F53’s a R56 S with stage 1 JCW kit and an R56 FJCW. and I have to say how impressive it is. Loving the new interior and all of the tech, but most importantly it is still a great car to drive and that is what makes it a MINI for me.

    • lawrothegreat

      You’ll be washy’s partner then!

  • Nick

    I saw the car for the first time yesterday at the dealership. I had been led to believe by some comments in this forum that the car looks better in person so I had my fingers crossed. Sorry, It looked like the bloated ugly sister of last year’s model setting next to it. The interior looks good.

  • Pfarinelli

    Tempe mini here in Arizona has an f56s

    • fishbert

      manual or auto?

  • Sal

    Here are some pics from my drive of my Cooper S, I just wish I could take delivery before 4/15!!! I ordered the adjustable dampers with the 16″ wheels but didn’t see if there was a separate control or wether the dampers adjusted with the drive setting. Each drive mode Eco, mid & sport are excellent but not leaving it in sport all the time will be a difficult decision. Mid is also a great deal of fun. Road feel AND comfort that I never thought possible.

    • lawrothegreat

      Nice! You’ve got the same seats as me and there are next to no photos of these on the internet…..

    • Spike

      The VDC auto adjusts with the driving modes. Green = softer, Sport = Hard etc. As far as I know it is not configurable. You went for media xl but no HUD?

      • Sal

        HUD seemed a frivolous expense. I went for other options instead

        • fishbert

          HUD seems gimmicky … being stuck down on the dash makes it too low to really be “heads-up” anything.

        • SPICYJCWCOUPE

          And as in my case or anyone else, who tends to wear sunglasses with the ‘polaroid’ feature, the HUD’s reflected data would become invisible. The same thing happened on my previous MCS hatch’s radio depending on what was being viewed. Understand this only happens with’ reflected’ displays such as the HUD. So if you wear polaroids most all the time while driving, forget about ordering the HUD!!

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          This is true. Sadly.

        • Spike

          Not tried it myself but MINI UK told me Polaroid lenses work ok with this HUD. Can anyone confirm? I don’t use polaroids.

        • SPICYJCWCOUPE

          Since I’m interested in the F55 4 door hatch to come out late this year, I want to try out an HUD with my Polaroid sunglasses at my dealer on the F56 whenever they get one with the HUD option.

          Gabe also said it won’t work but you said MINI UK said it works? Can’t be both ways unless there are different types of Polaroids that view the reflected light differently. I’ve read somewhere , that different Polaroids may view the reflected light from different angles allowing the data to be revealed. Anyone know this to be true?

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          To be very specific… My polarized Giorgio Armani’s didn’t work on the HUD equipped MCS and MC I tested back in January.

        • SPICYJCWCOUPE

          Until about 2 years ago, I needed glasses for close up & long distance. Then I had to have cataract surgery. Now my vision is back to 20/20 or better without glasses but, due to the much brighter view that I have, Polaroids are now a must outside to reduce glare. I even will wear yellow Polaroids for night driving. Neither are prescription types. So as much as I’d like to have the HUD among my options list, I’d have to pass on it. Even when filling up most gasoline pumps, the LCD screens can be hard to see unless I tilt to one side.

        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          It’s polarized guys, unless your sunglasses take analog instant photos. ;-)

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Which is an AMAZING IDEA

        • fishbert
        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          Well I’ll be.

        • Spike

          I’ve used it every day since launch, not once have I wanted to send it back into the dash. I see what you mean about it looking gimmicky, this was my fear at first. It needs to have more range of adjustment, more height, and it would be perfect.

  • ulrichd

    I wonder how long it will before the aftermarket will produce replacement lenses for the huge rear tail lights and cleaner front clips for the Cooper S?

  • JonPD

    Got a look at the Cooper and Cooper S. From the front the Cooper is decent, from the back both are a hideous mess. The front end of the S looks like a bad aero kit from a cheap online dealer. Will look forward to seeing the interior of both but can say with confidence neither car would follow me home.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      I think we’re going to have to add “hideous mess” to the MF comment drinking game.

    • Spike

      I felt the same. But, in the flesh as they say, I melted. I love how it looks.

  • DaCrema

    A question for those that have driven the new car. I could never get comfortable driving the R56. I have a longish head and the head rest pushed my head enough forward to make it uncomfortable. Yes I could recline the seat and make other adjustments but that led to other problems. It is not just MINIs that I have had the issue with, other brands have address new headrest standards the same way and I have the same issue with them. I never had the issue with my R50 unless I as auto crossing (helmet). Does the new car allow adjustment of the head rest?

    • Gene Leeds

      FYI You can take out and reverse the head rest. I did this on the passenger seat of my car.

      • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

        We’ve talked about this on WRR before and that is something I’d have to strongly recommend against. Do NOT turn your head rests around backwards. This puts you at risk for significant, possibly fatal neck injuries if you get rear-ended. This isn’t some old wives tale or urban legend. We’ve had listeners who got hurt doing this. Bad idea.

        Our standing recommendation has been to adjust your seat down lower to the floor, then rotate the back of the seat more upright so that your head is off the head rest if it’s bothering you. Think of it as a more race-appropriate seating posture (which it is). This will feel weird at first, but personally I find it more comfortable in the long run. And for reference, I’m 6’3″ tall.

        • Gene Leeds

          Thank you! When I drive my head isn’t on the head rest. I’m in full on race posture at all times, for better or for worse. My wife doesn’t like the headrest in the passenger seat because she doesn’t like how the whole seat makes it bend her back forward into a sort of bad posture position. I love my mini but it does have some odd querks and that’s one of them. I’d put a different seat in if not for the fact at 72k miles I’m not sure how much more money in mods I want to put into it. Luckily the next car we’ll be getting in about 11 months will have better seats. :)

        • jbkone

          didn’t slightly older R53s have different head rests? You could put one of those in.

        • jbkone

          I meant R56s. OOPS!

  • Paul Niemczyk

    Already drove the Automatic S and I must say… the car is phenomenal and puts me on the fence of buying another manual MINI. The modes transform the car. There’s a huge difference between Sport, Normal, and Eco. The car also has a boat load of torque low down and picks up like a rocket. The pop and burble is also a lot more pronounced. Overall, a phenomenal upgrade and MINI hadn’t lost any of its charm… Instead, it transformed it. This car feels a bit more like a straight line hooligan. Unfortunately, it does feel heavier in the corners and rolls a lot more (but that may be me used to my MINI Coupe S with H&R Clubsport coilovers).

  • UKM1NI

    I got to drive them both in CA. Very sweet rides but still love the rawness of the older MINI’S. But it will sell as it’s a top quality MINI.

  • Karl

    I wasn’t completely sold at first, but it really looks like MINI as upped the finish out on these. I’ve had a couple of R53s, and 3 R56s with the latest being my 2009 fJCW. I’m definitely looking forward to getting the JCW when it comes out next year.

  • carcrazed

    I am impressed with the new F56 and as a Motoring Advisor I am very excited to get to show and sell them. The interior is amazing along with the new motors and delightfully impressive updated 6speed transmissions. You definitely need to go motor in one or all of them when you can. We have three for sale and I can’t wait to find them new homes.

  • TheMotoringAdvisor

    We received 3 of our 4 launch F56’s this week (two S’ in sport automatic and standard automatic and a manual Cooper). I’ve had the chance to spend a full day and night with each.

    The Cooper S automatic is an all-out riot. Torque steer? Gone. Really. And the way the rear suspension sounds and feels when under load made me feel like I was in my M3 from years past. I’m eager to drive a manual when we receive one but the sport automatic has won me over thus far (and my daily is an R53 S manual).

    The Cooper on the other hand is going to be the most bang for your buck in regards to full economy and power. For us in the business it will also be a great turning point for those that think they need the S but are trying to keep their payments at a minimum. So far I’ve only driven the manual and have been extremely impressed with the clutch feel (most of my clients are not track enthusiasts) and for daily driving it’s the perfect blend of comfort and responsiveness. The rev matching is also spot on and worked in all modes: sport, mid, and green.

    Does it have the small, almost grassroots feel, of my 2003 R53? No, but with customer demand changing (yes, even older die hard customers/enthusiasts are looking for more from the MINI brand) it will still give you all the thrills of the classic, added tech that in no way takes away from the Motoring experience but enhances it in some cases, and will change the game for the competition in the coming years.

    Overall this is the evolution that MINI needed. FINALLY we can show our BMW ownership working hard for the “little” brand. The MINI is now easily comparable to the 3 series in regards to technology (even though we get LED headlights for a steal and we got self-park before they did) and in regards to comfort; this MINI is quiet. We command a premium price and now we can back it in more ways than just being different for the sake of being different.

    p.s. HK sound is amazing and now that we have it included in our Premium Pkg again (thank you MINI!!), I can totally see why it’s still on back-order on the production line.

  • Dennis Donovan

    I was at the Dealership I bought and service my 06 MCS at yesterday. They had a 2015 MCS. It is much. much better looking in person than pictures.

  • Chilly

    I was at my local dealership yesterday for service and while there had the opportunity to take an F56 Cooper S automatic and Cooper manual for test drives. My thoughts:

    Cooper (manual) . Almost sounds like a diesel at idle, sounds nice once you’re on the go. . Throttle response is instant – really nice. . Steering feedback – improved and the new steering wheel is much nicer. . Transmission – shorter throw and more direct, yet another improvement. . Improved in every area that matters!

    Cooper S (automatic) . Extra power is noticeable but not as much as I thought it would be. . Auto transmission is much improved but, again, not as much as I expected after reading all the reviews. . I hate the start-stop technology. Fortunately this can be turned off. . I look forward to driving an S with a manual transmission!

    General observations . The cars are noticeably bigger when you see them parked next to an R56 and R53. . Front of S isn’t as bad in the flesh as you might expect from the photos. . The rear of the S is more appealing to me than the standard Cooper, I attribute this to the two fog lights and the spoiler. On the S the spoiler curves slightly upwards while on the Cooper it follows the roof line. Hopefully there’s an optional spoiler available for the Cooper. . The rear lights look ok in person but I was surprised by the overall look of the rear, it has a distinctly different (rounder) shape than either of the previous generations. I suspect – and hope – this is a look that will grow on me. . The interior is improved in every respect, the increase in head room is noticeable.

  • Bill Sucevic

    We live in Pittsburgh and just received our fully loaded volcanic orange F56s on Saturday from the dealership. We are proud to be the first family motoring around the Burgh in this incredible feat of engineering. There are things this car does that I’m still trying to understand, there is a camera mounted on the windshield that reads street signs, what is that all about!? The HUD is amazing, especially how it allows you to step through your songs off your bluetooth attached phone and also show you the turn by turn directions, including accurate pictures of the intersections you are about to encounter on your drive. The cornering lights go way beyond the ones we had on our Countryman, they are on the side of the car and light up everything in the direction you are turning when it detects the steering wheel go into a turn, OR if you turn on the turn signal. The LED lights are just as good as the Xenon’s from the Countryman when it comes to brightness, if not a little better. The build quality of the interior is close to BMW’s quality (I also own a 328i). We got white bonnet stripes, mirrors and roof with the volcanic orange paint, it’s a stunning looking car that turns heads as we drive it around the neighborhood. The first thing my wife did on our way home from the dealership was pick up my daughter and her 6 foot tall friend, who both sat comfortably in the back. It helped that my wife is 5 foot tall and has the driver’s seat moved up pretty far. The MINI Connected and navigation are light years ahead of the system in our 2012 Countryman, which I thought was a little brain dead. It even does split screen so you can be displaying 2 things at once and switch between them. The entire owner’s manual is also accessible through the Connected system. And the engine… it is everything the reviewers have said. The auto-shutdown at red lights is a little hard to get used to, but you can toggle it off easily. It does start back up seemlessly as you lift your foot off the brake. There is so much more to say but I don’t even know what to say next! It’s just an incredible car, and I can’t wait until the F60 is available to get all of the F56 improvements in an all wheel drive crossover!

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Great to hear. Btw the camera is to read speed limit signs and cross reference them is the master database. Then it’s deliver within milliseconds to the MINI’s display.

      • fishbert

        what option(s) do you need to have to get this sign-reading camera feature? or is it standard? … a lot of these new little detail features are nowhere to be found in the configurator, so I’m a bit confused.

        • Bill Sucevic

          We were trying to figure out how to enable the speed limit detection and read the manual pages on the feature. We looked for the option to enable it, and it’s not where the manual says it should be. The beginning of the speed limit detection in the manual says that it works differently depending on whether or not you have a navigation system. But near the end of the section it mentions that with navigation, speed limit detection is not available. Someone else needs to confirm this, but the manual seems to indicate that the speed limit detection is there on all models unless you have navigation, so our car doesn’t seem to have it, even though it looks like there is a front camera. Do any experts know more about this?

    • robblef

      how did you get your MINI before the official on sale date?

      • Bill Sucevic

        We ordered the F56 on Saturday, February 1st. Our dealership explained it to us like this: they said that every dealership had reserved pre-order production slots that they could use for customers that wanted to put a deposit down and order an F56 along with the initial rollout of demos to dealers. We drove down to the dealer, worked through the dealer build tool, found a production slot that was one of the first ones that was similar to what we wanted, and then reserved and customized it right there and put the order in. I paid the dealer a deposit, got the VIN number to track it and we checked on it just about every day all the way through production. We even tracked the ship that it come on as it crossed the Atlantic to Baltimore. Since it was a customer ordered car, they tagged it as “Priority One” through the Baltimore distribution center. It arrived in Baltimore on Thursday, March 20th. It then arrived at our dealership on Thursday, March 27th. The dealer processed and inspected it and had it ready for delivery to us on Saturday, March 29th. We didn’t even get to sit in one until the Pittsburgh Auto Show on February 15th, so we were purchasing a car on blind faith! Production started on it around February 24th. It entered the body shop on March 4th. Quality check on March 7th. At port on March 13th. Left on the “Tamerlane” car carrier on March 14th. I kept a log of the entire process! There’s a chance that we may have been the first customer to receive an F56 in the US, I know we were the first one to get one in Pittsburgh.

        • robblef

          I think you misunderstood my question. I didn’t mean how did you car arrive here so quickly. I meant how did they deliver the MINI when in the US there are supposed to be no deliveries before April 15th. Many people have their cars waiting on the lot but they are not allowed to pick them up until the 15th.

        • Bill Sucevic

          Perhaps my dealer didn’t get the memo… BTW that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          It has to do with formal EPA certification etc.

        • JohnBLZ

          If it wasn’t certified, wouldn’t these still be sitting at the VDC and not available for test drives at the dealership? MINI needs to come out and explain this better as the only thing common among the dealers is confusion.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Bad choice of words from me.

        • JohnBLZ

          So you’ve already signed the papers and taken ownership of your F56?

        • Bill Sucevic

          Yes.

  • one9deuce

    I apologize if this has been addressed, but I can’t seem to find a definitive answer: If the 2014 Hatch is being released in spring of 2014, will they release the 2015 Hatch in September of this year as they typically would or will there be a delay? Or will they at least get back on track for the 2016 Hatch to be released in September of 2015? I want a 2016 Hatch and I’m planning ahead for my first MINI.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Model year 15 starts this August.

      • SPICYJCWCOUPE

        With Aug as the start of the 2015 model year, is that about the same timetable the new F55 4 door hatch is planned to reach dealers? Would they begin around that time in the Euro market then a bit later here in the U.S./N.A. market?

        Will ANY of the 2014 F56 new technological features be included in any of the continuing 2015 R series…even items such as rear cameras, updated transmissions etc. or will they all continue just with current tech until they also become a new F series generation over the next few years??

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Roughly yes.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          None of the F5X featured will make it to the old cars.

        • SPICYJCWCOUPE

          Thanks Gabe re the F55 to come out this fall as well as the ‘no change’ on R series tech features until they become F series further down the road. I plan to visit my dealer tomorrow to check out the F56 which arrived several days ago.

          This will give me a good idea of what to expect in the F55’s features arriving this fall since the F56 & F55 will be very much alike except for the added doors, 2″ more length & rear leg room, etc.

          One more question…The F56 has the rear seats set up as for two passengers. Will that be the same for the F55 or will they attempt to set it up for 3 seating? I think that would be too much for the back seat re the size of the F55.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Supposedly there will be three seats.

          Check out the F55 section for lots of answers btw.

      • one9deuce

        Thanks Gabe!


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