After an excruciatingly long wait our long term Cooper S test car is here. Well most of it. The process of ordering a press or corporate car at MINI typically takes longer and is less of a science than ordering from your dealer. Therefore when production issues at Oxford slowed output, our car and other similar press cars were bumped back in order to get customer cars out. At the time we thought that seemed more than fair. However, the result was our car missed its late June build slot, which meant it officially became a 2015 model. That in turn meant it fell victim to the EPA issue that saw all 2015 model year cars held at the port until October 1st.
October 1st came and went and our MINI was once again bumped back so that the company could focus on customer cars. Rightly so we thought, but boy was this getting old. Finally in late December we were told our car was shipping out. After another excruciating delay due to weather we got the call. Anticipation was hardly the word.
Walking up to your new MINI is always such a momentous occasion. After pining over every detail of the spec, seeing the car in the flesh for the first time is a surreal moment that usually ends in a smile ear to ear. The same of course is true for our press cars. We carefully design them with input from our readers and based on our knowledge of the vast options list. However if the process of ordering our F56 was any indication, this would be a very different experience. As I walked up to our car for the first time my sense of anticipation turned quickly into confusion. It was the right exterior color combo (BRG with a white roof), but what were those little donuts in the wheel-wells? Somehow, some way the gorgeous 18″ Cone Spokes we had chosen were unceremoniously replaced by 16″ Loop spokes that weren’t doing the high-cowled F56 any favors.
As I peeked into the window I could see it also lacked the matte cotton wood and satellite grey color-line trim. Instead there was the black and checkered trim that I always thought did a good job cheapening the high-end interior. And in place of the Satellite grey color-line was the bone-stock black version.
But it did have the Satellite grey lounge leather which was on our options list. Was this our car? If so, how could there have been a mix-up?
We’re the luckiest guys in the world to get to write about and drive MINIs. And getting one from MINI to drive on an extended basis is a dream come true. But when you spec something so specifically and so carefully only to see something decidedly different get delivered, you can imagine our disappointment.
What happened? As best we can tell when our 2014 order became a 2015 many of the options groups we had picked zeroed out in the system. In a case where a salesperson would be working with a client, they’d of course re-apply the options within the new packages or at the very least call the customer and let them know about new choices. In our case the system is rather automated and our car was (rightfully so) less of a concern than an actual customer car. So it simply fell through the cracks and became a heavily yet oddly optioned Cooper S with the smallest wheels available.
We won’t be able to retrofit things like rear foglights or dynamic dampers but there is one thing we can do. Make it ours. Not unlike what many of you deal with when buying a MINI second hand off a dealer lot, we have a car that’s maybe 75% right. For a MINI that’s not bad. Especially given all the options for making it 100% right. So that’s our plan. And with MINI USA’s help we’ll hopefully be digging deep into the official After-Sales parts bin to turn our Cooper S into something a little more interesting than what came off the factory floor. Have suggestions? Let us know in the comment section below.
In the meantime I’m personally loving being back behind the wheel of a MINI on a daily basis. And the F56 Cooper S has been nothing less than exceptional to live with day to day.
Look for updates on our long term BRG Cooper S in the days ahead.