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Section: F56 Hatch

MotoringFile Review: the 2014 MINI Cooper S at the Track

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews Oct 29th, 2014 No 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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Miles Ahead – The Ultimate MINI Track Day& Driving School

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews Oct 27th, 2014 9 Comments

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You enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through a tunnel on 16th street with little pomp or circumstance. You exit into the infield with awe. Such is the scale of the place that there’s a golf course in the infield. And it only takes up a 1/3rd of the infield.

These are hallowed grounds for the Motorsport obsessed and it’s a treat to simply be allowed inside. But today is special. Today I will be one of the first civilians to drive the road course at IMS in anger. And my ride couldn’t be better – a 2014 Mini Cooper S. continued →

MINIUSA Responds to the Lowering of MPG Figures by the EPA

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch Oct 24th, 2014 16 Comments

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When the EPA re-released 2014 MINI MPG figures we reached out to MINI for an official response on the matter. What you see below is that response. While it doesn’t give us insight into why, we can certainly assume that spot checking the original figures proved uncovered discrepancies that led to this re-test. The big question however is what this does to consumer expectations of the new MINI and its efficiency.

Read on for the official statement.

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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 to Debut Three New Models Over the Next Year

MotoringFile Sections: F54 Clubman, F54 Clubman Hybrid, F55 Five Door Hatch, F56 Hatch, F58 Spacebox, F59 Roadster/Coupe, F61 Paceman, F6X Countryman Oct 10th, 2014 8 Comments

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With the F56 and F55 four door launched, MINI is turning its attention to rounding out its aging line-up. This includes the convertible, JCW and of course the highly anticipated Clubman. Read on the for the details.

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Exclusive: MINI’s Surprising 2015 US EPA Figures Revealed

MotoringFile Sections: F55 Five Door Hatch, F56 Hatch Oct 2nd, 2014 57 Comments

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MINI has had a rough couple of months with the EPA. First MINI USA elected to switch from versions of its 2.0L four cylinder in the Cooper S from the B48 to the B46. The B46 is a variation of the 2.0L which is a classified as a super ultra-low emissions vehicle by the EPA (SULEV). From there we don’t know what happened but we do know that the EPA decided to re-test the entire line-up of F56 models from the Cooper to the Cooper S. This means that the 2015 car couldn’t be sold until certification was finished – something the EPA said would take until October 1. While the results of this testing hasn’t been published yet, we’ve obtained MPG figures for the 2015 model range that are a little surprising.

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A Photo Tour of MINI Production at Oxford

MotoringFile Sections: F55 Five Door Hatch, F56 Hatch, Production Sep 19th, 2014 9 Comments

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The Oxford plant tour should be on every MINI fans bucket list. However given time constraints and high prices of air travel for those outside the UK, many of us will never make it. So we’re bringing the tour to you. 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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