Introducing MotoringFile’s Longterm F56 Cooper S
Writing for MotoringFile has its highs and lows. Constant personal attention from the few of us that run it can be taxing given day jobs and the business of life. But the rewards of writing about a subject that we find interesting and seeing a community of readers build around that is nothing short of inspiring.
And then there are the cars. Within the guise of MotoringFile (and BimmerFile) we get behind the wheel of a ton of them, and most pretty interesting. The best examples of this are new vehicle press launches which are great ways to evaluate individual models for our readers often before they’re even in showrooms.
But it’s the longterm press cars that MINI has graced us with that are perhaps the ultimate test drive. And they also represent the best way to truly review a new car. Which brings us to what’s next for the MotoringFile garage.
But more on that in a moment.
In 2011 we drove a Cooper S Countryman for 17,000 miles. While we had praise for the level of performance and utility normally not found in the segment, we didn’t bite our tongue when describing the vague clutch engagement. Bluntly it marred what would have been an almost perfect ownership experience. Thankfully MINI listened and in the fall of 2012 began fitting the R60 with a revised set-up that eliminated the issue.
Then in 2012 it was the JCW Roadster. The question – could we live with a car seemingly so narrowly focused and so seemingly ill prepared for northern climates all year around. We did and we loved it for a full 20,000 miles. More than any MINI I’ve ever personally lived with or even driven, it stole my heart and made a impact on the rest of the MF staff. (Pro-tip: if you ever even have a minor inclination to own a Roadster don’t question it – just do it).
And that brings us to 2014 and the launch of the most important MINI product since the 2001 R50. Once again MINI has allowed us a chance to spec our car via the configurator and once again we asked for your help. Based on your responses we’ve carefully crafted a car that we think you’ll love reading about over the next 12 months.
Time to lift the cover.
Our British Racing Green 2014 Cooper S is designed to have a late 60’s Cooper S feel to it. Unabashedly classic on the outside and perhaps surprisingly suave on the inside, the idea was to create a combination of color, leather and material that referenced history yet felt modern.
For those who may have heard the WRR podcast 5—, you’ll know I was rather coy about whether this car was going to be a Cooper or Cooper S. Ultimately I out voted the rest of the crew and went with the latter. Did I make the right call? Before jumping to the comments lets look at the rationale.
The decision was partly born out of driving both and preferring the new 2.0 and its JCW like power and torque delivery. It felt as fast if not fast than our JCW Roadster in almost every scenario. While I found the Cooper vastly improved, I still don’t think it’ll be the car that satisfies the enthusiast like the MCS. And the differences aren’t just down to the engine but also a more buttoned up suspension and better brakes.
At the heart of the MCS is MINI’s first 2.0 engine and the first time that the Cooper S has had over 200 ft lbs of torque. Yet it’s also surprisingly economical on the highway (which this car will see plenty of duty on) achieving 37 mpg .
We’re betting that after a few test drives, this is the car that many of you will either be considering or pining after over the next few years. Therefore it felt appropriate for us to bring you our in-depth thoughts on it.
Options as you’d expect for a test car are plentiful. Ok it’s loaded. Naturally we wanted to throw every option on this car to properly test and report in them. A few notable ones you’ll likely be interested in will surely be the HUD, Navigation and the new adaptive sport suspension.
We thought long and hard about going with the 20% stiffer non-adaptive sport suspension but in the end (and at the last second) decided against it and went with what you likely wanted to read about. This should give us plenty of opportunity to determine if the 20% difference between comfort and sport is truly worth the $500.
With F56 production has been delayed due to paint shop refitting we likely won’t see our car until early summer. But expect updates before and after delivery detailing that production anticipation that so many of you have experienced.
Now for the big question. Did we get it right? If not how would you spec your F56 Cooper S? Let us know in the comments below.
Written By: Gabe
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MINI Model Cheat Sheet
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F55: Five Door Hatch
F60: MINI Crossover
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