As MINI gears up to release the entirely new MINI Cooper and Cooper S in early autumn it’s time for a look back and where the model has come from. The idea, hatched by brilliant Formula One designer John Cooper, to fuel the agile small car with an extra hit of performance and a car for the road and track has lost none of its appeal. But the Cooper has never been about horsepower, as a comparison between the classic Mini and its two successors resoundingly proves. The key here is the basic principle of the creative use of space, combined with the inimitable go-kart feeling that runs like a thread through the three generations.
Whether your a classic, R50/53 or a R56 fan, it’s hard to argue with the incredible success of the little car from the UK or the experience behind the wheel.
As aptly pointed out by a reader both the first GP and early R56 JCWs are priced similarly in the mid-20s these days. So which one to get? The first question we’d have to ask – is this a daily driver? If so the more modern R56 (presumably with some options and nice to haves) would be the easy logical choice. However things get much more interesting when this isn’t about solving the problem of finding a daily driver. continued →
This show will not automatically download if you subscribe to WRR. To listen you’ll either need to hit play above or download the MP3 (also above) and move to iTunes.
What is Red Roof Radio? It’s when a few of us get together when we’re not suppose to be doing a podcast this week and just talk. Consider this a behind the scenes show without the normal production values or even sound quality you might get from WWR (although it’s not half bad). But what you get are unbiased opinions. Sort of like Black Roof Radio but something we can actually post. continued →
First we gave you another look at our full review of the JCW GP. Then we took you back to our last drive in the R53 JCW. Today, for MF’s month long celebration of JCW, we give you one of our most memorable drives in the GP – from St Louis to Indy during MTTS. We pick up the story just as our bags hit the ground at home after the trip.
I had just one day – St Louis to Indy. And I was dedicated to making it one to remember. So early this morning Todd and I (up way too early) shook off the cobwebs and headed out to the official MTTS meeting point – the St Louis Arch. At this point the GP was starting to sink in as a real live car and I must say that it was getting better looking the more I saw it.
After our Arch photo opp was over I was handed the keys to a GP courtesy of MINI USA. I might add that this particular car was broken in by none other than Fireball Tim and Hubie (the men responsible for the fastest MINI drag-car in the world). So I got some quality time to the tune of about four hours with the GP. First impressions: better than wow. This car is a complete package like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s not the fastest MINI out there, just the most complete MINI I’ve ever drive. MINI and BMW did a great job inside and out with the small details. The look of the car really makes sense in the real world as compared to the 2D world as seen on this site or countless magazines. In other words, don’t make your mind on this car’s looks until you’ve seen it in the flesh.
Last week we kicked off JCW month with a look back at the JCW GP five years later. This week we take a look at the other JCW of the time, the MINI Cooper S factory JCW. This was a time of transition for the JCW brand as it moved from a dealer installed kit to a factory installed package. It also represents the pinnacle of the factory R53 (not counting the special edition GP).
Over the last week or so my respect for the Cooper S JCW kit has grown immeasurably. Driving almost 1,500 miles in seven days is a great way to find a car’s potential and its faults. Yet with the JCW MCS, the latter was almost impossible.
But before I get to my final thoughts on the car let me recap a bit. MINI USA gave me the keys to a 2006 MINI Cooper S with the JCW package and basically said, have at it and let the world know what you think. As the owner of a Cooper S with a pulley and a number of other modifications, this was a chance to do a direct comparison between the two cars and see what it was like to actually live with the JCW MCS. The test car was lightly specced. Chili Red/White roof, Sport package, JCW package and 18″ Matte Black JCW wheels. From a performance standpoint one couldn’t ask for anything more save for the JCW suspension or a full-on GP.
Sure we all followed along with the factory electic cars. There was that one company that was also selling electric MINIs through Sam’s Club a while back. Now, CravenSpeed has gotten into the game and they just did their first test drive of their electric R53.
The donor MINI is a 2002 R53. Great testbed for such a conversion. Be sure to click back to read all about their progress.
Anyone have any interest in doing something like this to your MINI? $25k seems pretty reasonable for this kind of conversion to us. What say you?
Today we start a new feature at MF called the MF Vault. The idea is to bring back some of our favorite reviews over the years and present them to a new (and larger) audience at MF. So we start with one of our most popular reviews over the past eight years. The R53 vs the R56 has been a debate since the first R56 test mules began showing up in 2005. But until this review we hadn’t had a chance drive two well sorted version of each car back to back. And while a lot has happened in the R56 development over the years (not to mention the aftermarket) we believe the review still holds up well.
So let us set the stage. On one side we have a lightly specced and well modded 2006 MCS. On the other we have a loaded 2007 MCS with the JCW suspension, engine kit and aerokit. Both have identical wheels and tires and of course the gorgeous Astro Black. So enough of the set-up. Let’s step back into the fall of 2007…
(Originally posted November 28th 2007) We’ve done several R53/R56 comparisons over the past year but one thing we’ve never done is tested two (almost) identically equipped MINIs back to back. Along with that, we’ve never had the right opportunity to equally assess both cars over the right roads and in the right conditions. And while MotoringFile has been the host of multiple articles comparing the two cars, I always felt they missed a little something without back to back drives. This comparison was to be different. We’d be focusing on driving the cars rather than talking about styling, price and all the other hotly contested debates that we’ve hosted on these pages previously.
So the plan was hatched; we’d drive from Chicago to Kalamazoo Michigan with a detour to the Indiana Lakefront. Here we’d find some of the best (and largely unknown) roads in the entire region. Once back on the highway we’d finish with a two hour blast up I94 to Bell’s Brewery, home of one of the most celebrated micro-brewed beers in the US. Along with the two MINIs being tested would be another R53 (’03 vintage) and a chase car in the form of a Porsche 911 Turbo (996). continued →
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 F55: Clubman F56: Hatch F57: Convertible F60: MINI Crossover F62: Traveller
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