Section: MINI Competitors

MF Vault: Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 Review

MotoringFile Sections: MF Vault, MINI Competitors, Reviews Dec 26th, 2012 3 Comments

MotoringFile is about as marque specific as they come. We unapologetically focus on MINIs and only MINIs. However once in awhile we dip our toe in the water with other cars as something particularly interesting or relevant comes along. The all electric Tesla probably fits into the former category more than the latter. So today we present you our latest review of the Tesla Roadster. Original posted over two years ago this was our second review of the Roadster and the last as it has now officially gone out of production. What does it mean for MINI fans? BMWi is the BMW Group’s answer to all electric cars like Tesla and they will be launching a small two and four door rear wheel drive hatch in the next 18 months. But until then this is the closest thing we have to a pure electric car with sport potential.

A huge thanks to Tesla Chicago for not only giving us time with the Roadster Sport but pretty much carte blanche for the time we had it. If you’re in Chicago be sure to check them out. If you’re not you can find an entire list of Tesla Stores worldwide here.

It was the smell. More specifically, the smell of melting rubber that caught my attention. So like you will do, I began to slow and was on alert. And there it was, around a blind corner — a tanker truck that had just locked up the rear to avoid an unexpected traffic tie-up. It was an accident waiting to happen and I smelled it.

The Tesla does many incredible things. But none more than amazing what it doesn’t do. perhaps More specifically, what it doesn’t make you live with. There’s no smell of fossil fuel burning. No sound (except a subtle Jetson’s like woosh on take-off) No pings, no vibrations and nothing to ever worry about other than the road ahead and the remaining range in the batteries. People talk about range anxiety, but consider that a tradeoff for all the other typical driving concerns a Tesla lacks. continued →

Motor Trend Pits the MINI Clubman vs. Hyundai Veloster Turbo

MotoringFile Sections: In the Press, MINI Competitors, R55 (Clubman) Aug 8th, 2012 23 Comments

There’s a pattern for MINI “shoot outs” in the mainstream press that I think is pretty interesting. It goes something like this:

  1. Match a MINI against some other small car
  2. If possible, choose a non-hardtop variant from the MINI lineup that doesn’t quite make sense for comparison
  3. Emphasize the price difference, even though there are less expensive MINIs than the one tested
  4. Complain about the MINI’s weird interior while, ironically, yawning at the competitor’s
  5. Drive the cars
  6. Point out that the MINI is less comfortable (Thanks, runflats!)
  7. Point out that the competitor is less fun. A LOT less fun.
  8. Bring up the price difference again
  9. Declare the MINI the better car for people who like to drive, but include some sort of back-handed statement about “value”

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just interesting how consistent it is. continued →

MF Review: Fiat 500 Abarth vs MINI JCW Coupe

MotoringFile Sections: MINI Competitors, Reviews Jul 3rd, 2012 43 Comments

Ever since Fiat announced it was building an Abarth version of the 500, MINI owners have been raising their eyebrows. Sure, the basic 500 is a decent car but, as we found out last year, it simply doesn’t compare well to the MINI in either build quality or performance. Enter the Abarth — the car conceived to go head-to-head with the MINI Cooper S and (if you listen to Fiat) even the JCW. So instead of reviewing the 500 Abarth on its own, we took up Fiat’s JCW challenge. We threw it into the ring with the newly-release MINI JCW Coupe. Apples to oranges you say? There’s only one way to find out.

Righting the Wrongs of the 500

The Abarth addresses the 500’s lack of sporting credentials exactly as we’d hoped. First up, a revised engine revs quicker and higher. It’s built stronger too. Abarth also updated the transmission (an obvious issue with the standard 500) with a new five-speed that, with a 3.35 final drive ratio, makes for a quicker 0-60 time. Other driveline upgrades could have been made, but with only 170 ft lbs of twist, at least torque steer isn’t much of issue.

Then there’s the suspension. Revised Koni struts up front give the car a 40% stiffer spring rate and a 15mm drop. Both were desperately, desperately needed over the base 500. Larger constant velocity (CV) joints (53% stronger to be exact) also help deliver a better ride and control over the original car. Finally, the steering rack has bee quickened 10% to help solve some of the laziness we found in the 500 Sport we tested last year.

Sense a trend yet? The mad scientists at Abarth apparently shared some of our opinions when it came the stock 500. They’ve upgraded the Fiat to address the exact deficiencies we bemoaned last year. And we’ll be damned if they didn’t produced something very compelling.

continued →

Businessweek: MINI Wins Big Over Smart

MotoringFile Sections: In the Press, MINI Competitors Feb 4th, 2012 14 Comments

2011 was a banner year for BMW and MINI. MINI sales were up 22%, making for its strongest sales year ever. With sales, came profits. Smart on the other hand, not so much. Recently Businessweek did a comparison piece contrasting MINI’s success against the dismal, -$100M loser that is the Smart car. Even though the Smart debuted several years earlier, and at a much lower price point, the MINI has managed to out-sell the Smart three-to-one. In their analysis, Businessweek sites growing model diversification as a key part of MINI’s success over the Smart. continued →

Motor Trend Chooses MINI Over Quirky Rivals

MotoringFile Sections: In the Press, MINI Competitors Dec 31st, 2011 10 Comments

We love a good comparison test here at MotoringFile, especially when the MINI gets its due as a driver’s car – especially the Cooper. While MINI doesn’t always come out on top in these small car shoot outs, it’s always interesting to see how the automotive press compares the Cooper to its rivals. This month, Motor Trend published a story pitting the MINI against the Scion tC, Honda CR-Z, Volkswagen Beetle, Hyundai Veloster, and of course, the Fiat 500. These, as the misfit group of the automotive world — the odd balls. Spoiler alert, MINI came out on top. continued →

Fiat Officially Releases the Abarth 500 in the US

MotoringFile Sections: MINI Competitors Nov 16th, 2011 25 Comments

Is this the first credible competitors to the MINI Cooper S? We won’t know until we get behind the wheel of the US specific Abarth, but we can take a quick look some of the more important stats.

  • 160 hp / 170 lb.-ft
  • Upgraded suspension with (FSD) Koni front-shock absorbers and a .6 lower ride height
  • 10% quicker steering rack
  • Larger single position brakes with 11.1-inch rotors
  • Abarth-tuned ESC system
  • Optional 18.9 lbs 17″ wheels
  • Heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission
  • no weight given

Promising no? Yet it’s hard for us to forget our less than stellar experience in the 500 Sport earlier this year. Here’s a quick excerpt to remind you: continued →

VW’s new New Beetle

MotoringFile Sections: MINI Competitors Jul 19th, 2011 29 Comments

Teased during the Super Bowl, the New Beetle is now even newer, making its first big evolutionary leap since the car debuted in 1997. The new New Beetle is squashed and stretched and feigning aggression from most angles — reflecting VW’s desire to re-masculate the Beetle franchise. Because honestly, not enough of the car market is aimed at young men. Am I right, fellas? Now we here at MF haven’t gotten any wheel time in the new New Beetle just yet, but here are two first impressions worth checking out:

Jalopnik’s First Drive of the VW Beetle

Autoblog’s Review of the VW Beetle Turbo

If you really want to dive head first into all things new New Beetle, head on over to VW Vortex and catch their in-depth coverage of the Beetle launch.

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R50: One & MC Hatch
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2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
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R57: Convertible
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R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
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3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
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F57: Convertible
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'12 JCW Coupe
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'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
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'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
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JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
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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
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'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
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range