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MINI Cooper S vs. VW GTI Rematch

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch Oct 29th, 2014 5 Comments

6a00d83451b3c669e201b8d08605c2970c-800wiIf at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Not too long ago there was a comparison between the VW GTI and a MINI Cooper S. They’re baaaack! This time the results were different. continued →

MotoringFile Review: the 2014 MINI Cooper S at the Track

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews Oct 29th, 2014 5 Comments

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We’ve driven the new F56 MINI Cooper S plenty since its launch early this year. But so far track time with MINI’s latest has eluded us. With our recent trip to MINIUSA’s Miles Ahead at the Indianapolis Speedway, that finally came to an end.

While typically all of the Cooper S at Miles Ahead are automatics (the best choice for the vast majority – even most enthusiasts) I was lucky enough to be handed the key to the one manual in the fleet. Given my affiliation with MotoringFile and my previous track experience they wanted to give me an extra challenge in the form of a third pedal. It was welcome.

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Pulling out of the garage and into pits for the first time you’re once again struck by the scale of the place. IMS isn’t as large a track like Talledega but due to its design and layout it feels infinitely more impressive and almost majestic.

First up was getting acquainted with the car and the track. My very first session was full course lapping behind current Indycar driver Pippa Mann. My initial focus was of course the reacquaint myself with the car and the track. But the F56 felt so immediately comfortable and confident and moderate track speeds I was able to focus on strictly learning my braking points, shift points and corner angles. From there I shifted focus trying to better understand what I had in my hands and how it compared to the MINIs that came before it as a track tool.

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The verdict? Like all MINIs before it, the F56 makes for a respectable track car right out of the box. And with some tweaking of tires, brake pads and maybe light suspension changes it could be a giant killer.

In stock form grip levels are up thanks to improved tires, redesigned suspension and a stiffer chassis. The extra power and more importantly torque allowed for much more speed coming out of corners not to mention the ability to chirp the tires going into third at times.

One area that’s also improved upon is steering feel and feedback. Again thanks to that stiffer chassis, revised suspension and tires design from the ground for the car, the wheel feels more alive in your hand and connected to the outside world. There’s an eagerness to the car on initial turn-in that stock R56 at times lacked. The result is a MINI that feels utterly engaging and quick witted while not being overly dramatic as the R53 or R56 could be at times.

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At 120 mph on the front stretch of IMS an increase in vehicle stability was also obvious. The extensive aero work done by BMW has clearly paid dividends in a car that feels at home in triple digits. While a MINI will never quite match a 911 or M4 due to its shape, the F56 feels much more confident at 120 mph as compared to the R53 or R56.

Braking from 120 down is another story. Obviously you’d want to swap pads and fluid for any track action. But in stock form there was clear fade by the end of the day and a lack of stopping power that R56 JCW owners are used to.

Having a chance to drive the manual also meant I got to experience the new rev matching feature in some extreme situations. While part of the charm of manual driving has always been blipping the throttle for that perfect gear change, this addition allows for greater concentration at critical moments in and out of corners.

The F56 at the track was everything I hoped it would be. With the new Cooper S MINI has built on its tradition of producing giant killers that are immediately quick and (more importantly) utterly engaging on the edge.

In short if you’re thinking about upgrading to an F56 and plan track time, don’t hesitate. While a few light mods would be welcome for extended track use (like all previous MINIs), the F56 was a fantastic track companion offering up an excellent mix of speed, stability and feedback throughout the day.

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How is the New MINI in Wet Driving?

MotoringFile Sections: MF Feature Oct 23rd, 2014 7 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 5.09.40 PMWith fall in full swing storms can bring lots of rainy days. Autocar recently put seven cars to task in wet conditions and MINI was in the mix. continued →

The EPA Downgrades 2014 F56 MPG Figures

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch Oct 22nd, 2014 15 Comments

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We saw this coming. When the EPA required extensive re-testing of the 2015 F56 MINI models we assumed that things we’re going to head in a positive direction for MINI. We exclusively reported the results of that testing early this month and we’re left wondering if 2014 models would deb affected. Wonder no more. Here are the revised figures and as you’d expect, they’ve been downgraded.

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MINI USA Aims for January Launch for Five Door F55

MotoringFile Sections: F55 Five Door Hatch Oct 22nd, 2014 19 Comments

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MINI USA has quietly delayed the F55 launch from late fall to early 2015. That news comes from sources at MINI USA who clearly are focused on the F56 for the remainder of 2015. continued →

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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
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
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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