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Introducing MotoringFile’s Longterm F56 Cooper S

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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.

MotoringFile Countryman

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

  • Marcus

    Looks great! But if that’s dark cottonwood a word of warning – I ordered it with satellite grey colour line and though this was on the order from the dealer, the colour line defaulted to black at the factory and that’s what my Cooper arrived with. This is despite the fact that the combination appears in the promotional pics. I’m seeking a little compensation – worth checking with MINI.

    • lawrothegreat

      Oh no Marcus! Can’t you demand a retrofit? There are only a few pieces. I’ve got the dark cottonwood interior world with the satellite grey and it is fantastic. It’s actually a real poplar wood covering. It’s more subtle than you expect and it feels modern.

      • Marcus

        At first they said they’d fix it so I drive off. Then they said it would need a new dash, and they’re not going to do that. Going to get a discount off a JCW spoiler instead when it’s available. Dark cottonwood does looks great.

  • r_k_w

    Really disappointed that you didn’t go with the 3 cylinder Cooper. I think many current and past S owners see that the Cooper specs are pretty good (and the front looks better than the S), but they wonder if they’d be satisfied living day to day with the “lesser” model. You could have helped to provide some perspective, and from a reviewer’s standpoint it is the more interesting car. Instead you simply went for the performance car that you want for yourself.

    • Marcus

      Having owned a JCW R56, I can say a lot of S drivers will be more than happy with the Cooper. The performance is great and it has a lively, sporty feel in sport mode with the engaging engine note. And as you say, it looks better.

    • http://twitter.com/matthewwanderer Matthew

      Cooper or Cooper S, generally? Not so interested.

      In the end it’s the new 3-cylinder engine I’m interested in as a long-term experience. That was the opportunity here.

    • Jon

      Easy… you’ve made your point. Twice now.

      I’m glad Gabe chose the MCS, as that is the model that I’d be most interested in hearing about. I’d wager that a majority of the motoring enthusiasts who regularly read Motoringfile would also fit into this category.

    • Jesse Knight

      The new 1.5L is lacking in power. Yes, it’s vastly improved from before, but it’s nowhere near being as quick as an R56 S. Across the board, MINI tuned these new engines for less of an intense punch. I was shocked that at 1250RPM, it didn’t have the same throw you back feeling of before, eventhough it’s pushing out 30 more lb-ft. Also shocked in the sound. It’s nowhere near as ferocious as before, and the lack of any exhaust noise was a disappointment. They also took out the turbocharger swooshes – which I’ve seen a bunch of others point out too – which to me is disappointing on anything wearing an “S” badge and packing a turbo. I wish MINI would’ve kept the same hp/L as the N18 had, just with .4L more capacity.

      • lawrothegreat

        I can only compare the 2007 R56 MCS that I once owned with the 2014 F56 MCS that I have right now. My observations of the F56 are that in sport mode the exhaust pops are louder and more predictable and the turbo swoosh is more noticeable with the window down. The car also pulls harder at lower engine speeds and power delivery beyond 5500rpm doesn’t tail off as noticeably as it did in the R56 – it is quicker. I haven’t driven the 1.5 Cooper, but I find it hard to believe that with the torque increase and the substantially improved 0-60mph time (which admittedly is only one marker of performance) that it isn’t noticeably quicker than the previous model.

        • Jesse Knight

          Well, my experience is from owning a 2011 Cooper S manual (N18 engine), and the power delivery was a lot more linear with the N18, and it pulled harder at all revs. It also had a much louder exhaust, intake, engine, and turbocharger/blowoff valve noise. I was disappointed in the F56 S and base engines lack of any sound. It follows in the footsteps of other modern day BMW products that have been toned way down or driving connection to suit more to the people that could care less what their cars sound like or perform like. I was also disappointed that they got rid of the back sunroof’s vent position. I was hoping the new S would be faster than my R56, but a quick rolling 20-80 side by side between the two, showed my suspicions were correct that the R56 was faster.

      • Trazer

        I went and drove both Minis two weeks ago and I too was unimpressed overall. I agree with your thoughts on the S totally, no noises at all to be heard. Keep in mind I drive my Abarth up to the dealer to look at the new Minis and it has gobs of turbo and exhaust noise. I got in the S and was shocked at how quiet and, well you said it best, sterile, it felt. It was a very nice car, but it was not as fun and engaging as I expected it to me. The dealer told me to “drive it like you stole it” and enjoy and I dove it hard, but it was not putting the smile on my face I wanted it too.

        • lawrothegreat

          I’m quite confused about this. In sport mode (once the car has warmed up), my F56 MCS really pops and bangs on overrun and with relatively little effort – to the point I drive in mid or green mode in traffic as not to annoy others. Perhaps it’s the petrol I’m using!

        • Jesse Knight

          The entire exhaust system is more restrictive than the R56. Whenever the car is in sport mode, as it’s been since the R56, it sprays a bit of extra fuel when you let off the accelerator creating the popping noise. It’s very simple. The fuel mixes with the hot exhaust in the exhaust system causing popping. That’s not the noise I’m talking about though. The entire car’s engine, exhaust, turbo, etc… Noises are all muffled in comparison with the previous 2 generations. I would think on the “sport” model, they would’ve at least kept the noises as loud as before. Many people wanted it louder before, but now it’s like an isolation chamber. The fuel you’re using has nothing to do with the noise it makes. Any gasoline would combust when sprayed into >1000°F exhaust gases.

        • lawrothegreat

          In sport mode the sound is also synthesised inside (of course there are various opinions on this) which in my opinion gives a more sporting tone than the R56 that I had. Personally I think that it works well – it’s great to have the quietness when you want to listen to a particular track or make a phone call, which in the real world is a boon.

        • Jesse Knight

          The active sound system doesn’t make the engine or exhaust anywhere near as loud or good sounding as the R56. Also, the exhaust noise outside the car is so muffled. It just sounds like any other 2.0L I-4. It could be a Honda Civic for all intents and purpose. I’m just sick that they didn’t keep the noises that made the experience so raw and emotional.

  • nervous

    Is the spec sheet available?

  • Jazzman

    I think you’ll be happy you went with the adaptive suspension as you’ll be getting some added stiffness from the 18″ rims. I also can’t fault your colour choice. I’m a motoring advisor and have my personal F56 on order with all the techno-goodies, and have already driven both cars extensively. While the Cooper is certainly the ‘most improved player’ on the team, my heart lies with the Cooper S’ additional grunt and sound. Some readers may find fault with the fact you chose one for your long-term review, but they can find solace in the fact that there are already a ton of glowing reviews for it. Furthermore, this will give you a great foundation for your next long-term car (a F56 JCW, I would bet). Out of curiosity – did you get the media changer and / or the HK audio? Keep up the good work!

    • Jesse Knight

      What sound? The R56 had a much better sounding engine, and exhaust and you could hear both.

      • lawrothegreat

        Jesse, I’m starting to wonder whether you’ve driven the F56 in sport mode (driving modes need to be on the car). The sound of the car varies considerably between sport, mid and green modes. On the F56 MCS in green mode under acceleration it makes a hum, in sport mode, it makes a deep growl and the exhaust does pop, and mid mode is in between.

        • Jesse Knight

          Sport mode doesn’t do anything to the exhaust except inject an extra bit of gasoline into the hot exhaust gases to cause a small explosion. It’s the same thing in R56’s. The R56 has a much louder exhaust. I’ve driven both F56 1.5, and S models. I’m wondering if you’ve driven an R56 or F56, or just recycling what you’ve read online

        • lawrothegreat

          Thanks Jesse, my comment was an honest question on when you drove an F56 model was it fitted with driving modes. By suggesting that I’ve been dishonest about what I’ve driven or own all you’re doing is lowering the tone of what is a great website to debate.

        • Jesse Knight

          Each MINI Cooper S F56 has driving modes as standard. Unlike some BMW products that offer valved exhaust systems, the MINI’s is a much more simple design that just sprays a little extra fuel in the hot exhaust which combusts in the exhaust system creating the popping. MINI has tuned this newest iteration away from being the raucous hot hatch it had been, and geared it more inline with the BMW flagship brand’s newest products – that have made a switch from enthusiast focused, to now being more Lexus-like. The newest car has less engine, exhaust, intake, turbocharger noises. No one at BMW will say different. Maybe they are saving the JCW to be more inline with the previous generation S that put it’s focus more on being a loud, rough riding, yet charmingly unique vehicle. I just had been hoping that MINI would’ve kept the S trim more focused on driving pleasure and fun, than toning it down, and blocking out all of the auditory sensations that had made it so special before.

  • Alexandre Sitbon

    Great combo. Going back to a more classic look is a very nice touch. Interesting to see a sunroof in the configuration as you guys always argue against the weight it adds. Probably “forced” to go along with it given the packages proposed by MINI USA.

  • Mark Smith

    Gabe and company I know you all like myself are motoring enthusiasts that enjoy a good MINI run as well as your daily run zipping through traffic. It’s true that the Cooper S has the highest level of performance out of the gate of any of its factory stock predecessors. That being said you really should have gone for a Cooper. It has the highest level of improvement of the two performance levels and I already know that it is the car that drivers of previous generation Cooper S’s will realistically consider as their next MINI as I am already seeing that here at my respective dealership in CT. that shall remain nameless out of respect for the dealers that pay to advertise on here. I am actually excited about the options you chose however not so excited about how predictable your choice of model was. :-( Bring on the comprehensive Cooper Hardtop reviews!!!

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      We’ll be driving the Cooper throughout the year in both the F56 and another F model that will be named later. So we’ll have plenty of opportunity to talk about the three cylinder.

      • r_k_w

        It goes both ways. You could have chosen the Cooper and say that you’ll have plenty of opportunity to talk about the S models. I’ll be blunt and say that I think it was a selfish choice. The Cooper choice would serve your readers better.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Given the stats on reviews and articles on this site I’d say the opposite.

        • r.burns

          You’ve made the right choice The Cooper S is the heart and soul of Mini

        • Mark Smith

          I disagree? Saying the Cooper S is the heart and soul of MINI is like asking the question “Which came first? The Chicken or the egg?”

        • r.burns

          you have your opinion, please respect mine

      • Jason Natanson

        Care to divule early the other F cooper model you will be testing? Maybe F60?

    • Michael Ramirez

      Focus ST and Golf GTI will destroy a Cooper S. Focus ST will too. Don’t try to say they aren’t competitors, because for anyone with chops for performance will be cross shopping those cars.

      • Spike

        Focus ST and Golf GTI are not competitors of the F56 S. Fiesta ST and Polo GTI are competitors of the F56 S. Both are great cars, neither of which “destroy a Cooper S”.

        • InsideMunich1

          Incorrect. MINI gave their employees in CA at the pre-release a chance to drive Fiesta ST, and GTI (mk6) back to back with the new Cooper S. They are considering it to be competition, as furthered by their development of a 4-door model. You can’t say two premium European hatchbacks that are priced nearly the same, have similar equipment packages, and are in the ever shrinking US market hot hatch category aren’t competitors. You are incorrect sir. As a BMW employee I can tell you that you are mistaken.

        • Spike

          I fail to see which part of my comment you are referring to as mistaken? MINI UK do not consider the Focus or the Golf to be competitors of the F56 3/5dr. I will list what MINI UK do consider to be direct competitors. 1 Ford Fiesta 2 VW Polo 3 Audi A1 4 Citroen DS3 5 Fiat 500 (I would add the Clio, Peugeot 208, Seat Ibiza to that list) Of the above it was the Fiesta and the A1 that was driven on the track along with the F56 at the UK Dealer Training.

          Next you will be saying Ford considers the Fiesta to be a direct competitor to the Focus.

        • InsideMunich1

          What i am referring to being incorrect is that in the US, the Largest single market for MINI, the VW Golf GTI, and the Focus ST are both considered rivals for the MINI. In the CA training, they brought Ford’s, and VW’s to be driven head to head. If you can’t see that three $24K “hot hatches” compete with each other, your insane. In the US, we don’t have Renault, Citroen, Peugeot, or even VW Polo’s to compare to. Here, the MINI’s only rivals are: Civic Si, Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Golf GTI, and formerly the Mazdaspeed3 – and their non-performance versions to a somewhat less extent. They are all priced within 2-5% of each other, have similar demographics, and performance figures. Several magazines have even said that MINI/BMW execs plan the 5-dr Cooper will be a direct rival to the Golf’s 5dr model.

        • InsideMunich1

          Also, the Fiat 500’s various models compete with MINI, but are much less competitive than other more mainstream competitors from VW, and Ford. The 500 can’t compete with a MINI in any regard, except that it’s the closest in size.

        • Spike

          Seriously, not one person in the whole of Europe if they were in the market for a new car would say the words “MINI” (F56) “Golf” “Focus” in the same sentence. Countryman yes, but never the F56. In the UK/EU the F56 belongs in what is called the Supermini class or B-segment while the Golf and Focus are in C-segment/Compact/Family Hatchback. Thank you for explaining a little more about the US market. Please explain how a Focus and a Fiesta can both be rivals?

        • InsideMunich1

          The Focus and Fiesta are both rivals because they are priced similarly (to the Cooper S), and since we only have a limited number of hatch rivals, they naturally pull in the same smaller group of buyers that would even consider a hatchback. The US market has never been big on hatchbacks, so since there are only a few competitive models, they all compete for the same buyers. Ford even was concerned about bringing the Fiesta ST here, because they feared it would caniballize Focus ST sales – which are are already pretty small. I wish the Polo GTI was offered here, because I like smaller sized cars, but the typical American won’t even consider anything as small as a MINI. A big reason they made it larger is because the American market complained it was too small.

  • rhwath99

    I would have voted for the Cooper and the 3 cylinder engine as I am interested to know if I could be happy with this. I agree with many that the Cooper front end is better looking than than the S although I think the rear looks better on the S. Would have loved to see a long term 3 cylinder with auto transmission and comments on how it is with the AC on.

  • Tim H

    As someone who went for the the f56 S and am just getting 200km on it I’ll be interest to see the comments from your run with it. I guess I’m biased but good choice on model and features. Not as keen on the green though ;)

  • Kevin Bartlett

    I’ve specced that color combo many times while considering what I would like in my potential next Mini. I’ll be very anxious to see what is written about this car over the next few months. I probably wouldn’t put every gadget on it to save a few bucks here and there but the theme of this car is close to what I will want (maybe mine would come with a couple of extra doors but that means waiting a while longer).

    Curious choice going with bigger wheels and the softer suspension option. Give how bad the Michigan roads are now I won’t go anything over 17 and I can’t imagine going with the stiffer suspension. Although they look nice no question.

    As for choosing the S; I say more power to you Gabe. You started the site because you were enthusiastic, so if you feel most enthusiastic about the S then that’s what you should get. It seems so far the Cooper has gotten more press so far, and that may be because initially all of the S’s were automatics that the press got to drive. I was disappointed by that choice on MINI’s part at the press launch event as I personally only have interest in the manual cars (maybe an 8 or 9 speed can change my mind down the road)

    I don’t understand anyone would feel you owe it to them to get what they want to hear about. I’m just glad you started this site in the first place as I get considerable enjoyment out of the work you put into it.

  • lawrothegreat

    This is a great choice. Yes you could have chosen the Cooper, but if anyone wants to know what the 1.5 is like then they can arrange a test drive. I’ve had my F56 MCS for a couple of weeks now (just over a thousand miles) and it is a superb vehicle. It really is a step up from the R56 and guess what? I now like the front bumper! Shock horror! The HUD is brilliant and is with every penny. The LED headlights look great and make other things look great too. I’m glad that I have the adaptive suspension, you can feel the differences, but in many ways I’m glad that to have it so the car can be 20% more comfortable than the stock suspension most of the time. Then I see a corner and select sport. :-) And you’ll love the engine. Economical, quiet and quick. Earlier today I had no problems at all keeping up with a first generation Porsche Boxster S 3.2 over about 10 miles on a fun twisty route.

  • Jahel

    The new Cooper S isn’t anywhere near as fast as an R56 S with a $299 JB+ unit from Burger Motorsports. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to make their Cooper S much faster and fun to drive. Until someone cracks the F56 ecu’s, or develops a Jb+ type device, I’ll be sticking with an R56 S.

    • lawrothegreat

      I’m sure that is true – it wasn’t difficult to make an R56 MCS quicker than any stock MINI in a straight line, GP models included. The F56 MCS is quick but the exciting thing is that there’s also lots of potential under the bonnet being a 2.0 L displacement. If I was tuning the car I wouldn’t give it any more low end torque (because the electronic systems are already holding it back) but I’d focus on the high end power.

      • Jahel

        If BMW made the internals strong enough to handle more power that is true, but a lot of people in 320i and 328i’s with N20 engines have increased the power to near 300hp, and have been having connecting rod failure, heads cracking, and thus – voided warranties – on already expensive to own cars. Also, they made the ECU’s so hard to reflash through OBD2, that until now, nobody has been able to tune them unless they crack open the ECU – or do a piggyback tune – which also had it’s issues until the JB+ hit the market running Vishnu’s N55 piggyback internals, albeit altered for use in the N18 engines. We will see how much potential there is for these newest batches of cars, but as always with BMW new releases, I expect a fair share of issues – either mechanically or electronically. It’s a shame BMW can’t build a car that’s as durable as a Honda, but packing the same level of excitement as their E60, and E90 generation.

        • lawrothegreat

          I think that we should wait to see how the F56 pans out in reality before making judgements on its reliability.

        • Jahel

          Well, if you haven’t noticed, BMW rarely has a smooth transition from model to model. The MINI certainly has through all generations been plagued with a variety of issues after each update. The N14 was plagued with fuel pumps, carbon buildup, thermostat, charge pipe, various rattles, electrical glitches, etc… It’s safe to say that there will definitely be some issues with this model, the hope being it’s better than before, but looking at history and expecting different events is the definition of insanity. My biggest concern is for oil leaks or the oil sensor failing – as there is no physical way to check the oil with a dipstick as they have decided to remove them.

        • Chilly

          I have to agree Jahel. I really don’t understand why they decided to eliminate the dipstick. I hope that decision can be reversed at some point.

        • r.burns

          The electric gauge is normal today, far more precise than the manual, and it makes you verify at least once a day (once a week/month or once a year “when people think of it” with the manual gauge…)

        • ChiliRedTurbo

          Not sure how you think it makes you check it daily. You have to go into the menu, wait for it to measure, and hope to god that the sensor hasn’t gone AWOL. What’s the harm with having a dipstick as a fail safe, and the sensor?

  • ulrichd

    Are the white 18″ wheels you see on some of the press photo cars not available?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Not in North Anerica.

      • ulrichd

        One of those weird market decisions. “No white wheels for you!”

        • Alexandre Sitbon

          That decision is most likely backed by robust customer and sales data. Maybe people just don’t buy enough of them or think they are too difficult to maintain over time.

        • ulrichd

          Good point.

  • cj

    Should have gone with a Base Cooper.

  • SPICYJCWCOUPE

    Am awaiting news & undisguised photos of the next F series model…..the F55 4 door hatch version of the F56 to hit dealers this fall. Understand, builds won’t begin until July, after the end of the current Clubman’s production line tenure in June.

  • Aurel

    Yeah picking an S this time around was rather predictable. The enthusiast on this board will pick the S no matter what … no need for you to road test it for a year to reaffirm their decision.

    The Cooper on the other hand …

  • ChiliRedR56S

    I hate they don’t offer a beige or caramel color interior anymore. Why are so many new cars going the route of gray and black only? I hate it! I want a BRG/black roof, tan interior, manual JCW – with an LSD, adaptive dampers that do more than (+/-)10%, and at least 230HP, a great sounding exhaust, and a ferociously growling engine – that places performance over noise suppression.

    • SPICYJCWCOUPE

      Looks like you’ll have to wait for the JCW version of the F56 for most of those preferences when it comes out next year. Have a feeling that the F series JCW will separate itself more from the S, than it did with the R series re HP, performance, sound, etc. At least, that’s what most are hoping for as well as more visual separation…..

      • R53twins

        Kinda annoying that they don’t offer more performance upgrades for the S as they had in the past. An LSD should be stock on anything with a turbocharger, over 150HP, front wheel drive, and with so much heritage that they constantly talk about. Also, when a car this small costs this much, it better have more on it to justify it’s increased price. Since when did less = more $$?

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          The reason it went away is because they had a 2% take rate and the eDiff does almost the sake thing with no weight penalty.

        • InsideMunich1

          It shouldn’t be an option. The weight penalty for an LSD is in single digit lbs. Civic Si’s have them standard with less torque, and lower starting price. VW GTI has an electronically locking diff that actually locks, not just a brake based system like these cars have. The Autocar review said that the Cooper S was hindered by this system as it’s new brakes got hot quicker, and started going soft. I noticed on my test drive how much harder I had to push the brake pedal on these new ones as compared to before. BMW switched to an Asian supplier recently for most of its generic brake systems, and I’m guessing the same has happened here. Across the board, they have had complaints on the new 3-series for its brakes being easier to warp, and overheat than the E90’s.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Of course a real LSD would be preferred. But if they’re getting less than a 2% take rate it’s hard for a small company to justify the development costs.

        • R53Twins

          Development costs? You’re kidding me, right? BMW is not a small company. Honda incorporates the LSD as a standard feature, and they sell less Si’s/year than MINI sells. There aren’t many costs associated with adding an LSD. Obviously, it had a small take rate, as it cost extra money on an already expensive car. I was shocked that even the JCW didn’t have a mechanical locking diff. When they are charging $30K+ for a car that is this small, and out performed by other competitors, they should at least have features like that standard. In a perfect world, they would include it across the board.

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

          Actually BMW is a small company relative to companies like Honda. They’re extremely niche. Across its small handful of brands, BMW sells far fewer cars than any of the major players. So economies of scale are much easier to come by when you’re talking about the bigger, more mainstream automotive brands.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          You want to know the real answer. That’s it. Units sold and size of the company matter.

        • R53Twins

          That’s funny, since BMW is selling nearly 2mil cars this year. The development costs for an LSD aren’t going to run in the millions, rather several thousands. There is no excuse to not have this on their cars. You can say that’s the answer, but it’s not acceptable or true.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          How many front wheel drive vs Honda? Do you think Honda could get better volume pricing now?

        • R53Twins

          MINI alone is doing nearly 400K sales a year. Now with the UKL platform, BMW’s best selling models will be FWD as they will be the cheapest. There really isn’t an excuse.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          How many does Honda sell?

        • R53Twins

          Si’s? Much less, and Honda is much more frugal in development costs on models that don’t sell in large numbers. The Si only sells between 12-20K/year, and it’s the only Honda model sold in the US with an LSD. Globally, sales of the Type-R and Si combined are under 50K/year.

  • http://www.alphabetcityblog.com/ Jeff

    Interesting that you’ve heard the delay is due to paint shop refitting. My wife and I just ordered an F56 Cooper (non-S) a couple of weeks ago and just today were told by our dealer that the build is being delayed due to the Harman Kardon stereo upgrade – dealer manager said that could delay it a month. We also ordered ours in BRG, if that matters. I’d wonder if our dealer was lying but he gave us the option to drop the radio option (which we got as part of the “Loaded” package, I think), which I don’t think they’d offer to do if that wasn’t actually the problem. Wouldn’t make anyone happy if they don’t get the money for the stereo, we don’t get the stereo, and the car is still delayed a month.

    • SPICYJCWCOUPE

      Can’t help but think that these misc delays with segments of the F56 re paint, Harman Kardon upgrade, (anything else?) will result in some startup delays in the production line of the F55 which is suppose to begin in July.

      If I was one of many out there who have been waiting much longer than usual for my F56 delivery, I wouldn’t be a happy camper! Some who finally get their 2014 F56’s over the upcoming couple months could be very close to the beginning of the 2015 F56 model rollouts!!!

    • TurbochargedChili

      If you order a “fully loaded” packaged car, yours gets built first, and gets the roof/radio combo no problem.

  • R56Speedster

    Did anyone see the review where the shifter and “driving mode” selector came undone on the guys test drive? Kinda makes me think more of the same shoddy build quality holds true for the car.

    • lawrothegreat

      I saw that video and cannot do the same in my F56 and I have tried. The build quality of the car is excellent.

      • R56Speedster

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s excellent. A quick look at other cars in this class will reveal that it is still behind in material quality and overall fit and finish. Some parts of the car are an improvement, but I honestly think the new standard radio system is even harder to use than before.

        • lawrothegreat

          Depends on what you mean by class. Obviously I can only attest to the build quality of mine equipped with leather and the dark cottonwood interior world. On that basis then yes I do think the build quality of the car is excellent in comparison with other small hatches and it is a huge leap forward over the R56. Do I think that there are weak links? Yes of course – the second driver’s sun visor for example.

    • Chilly

      Yes, I did, that was incredible. I’m surprised the guy didn’t have an accident.

  • Tim H

    In the latest WRR podcast there was mention of a long term rust concern around the battery. can anyone point me to something about this to address with my dealer? Not a huge thing, but i’d like to back up anythign i say or ask for. Sorry, this is not directly related to the topic above.

  • Bob Hayhurst

    Looks like a great car to drive for long term test. Love the BRG and the light colored interior. I don’t recall seeing it but I assume the MSRP is fairly shocking given all the add- ons. I saw an F56 “S” at my dealership on the lift and I was surprised to see that the rear suspension was not a MacPherson strut but a coil spring/ shock. I assume this was done to improve ride quality but it is a real departure from previous MINI suspensions. Not better perhaps just different. I’m really curious how MINI has implemented the adaptive suspension; love to see an in depth article about how it works then your take about it’s actual performance. It would be fun to see this car on MTTS if it arrives in time; looking forward to seeing it and the accompanying articles…

    • R56

      MINI’s have had 5-link rears since the R53. Not many cars have strut rear suspensions, I can’t think of any.

      • SPICYJCWCOUPE

        Many years ago, I had a ’79 Honda Civic CVCC & it had struts all around! I think today’s Civics (maybe other Honda models also) still have struts all around.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Ending confusion here.  The F56 Mini’s suspension is identical in principle to that of the previous two generations:  struts at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear.

        • Bob Hayhurst

          It was an unfortunate characterization on my part of MINI’s rear suspension as MacPherson strut. I was referring the difference between previous “S” suspensions (that I’m familiar with) with spring over shock.

          As to what I saw on F56, with shock and spring separate from each other. Yes, all MINI’s have front MacPherson strut suspension and rear multi link to include F56. Sorry for the confusion…

        • R56

          No, Civic’s have multilink rear suspensions. I can’t think of any model made that has struts all around. I’ve never even heard of that. As said below, since the relaunch in 2002, EVERY MINI has had strut fronts and a multilink rear.


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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Reviews:
'12 JCW Coupe
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'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
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'11 Countryman MC (auto)
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JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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