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Section: Reviews

MF Garage: The JCW Roadster Road-trips North and Into Our Hearts

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Jul 10th, 2013 9 Comments

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Heading north on Michigan’s famous M22, I realized something about our little JCW Roadster. In all my years of driving all sorts of cars, I can’t remember bonding with a car more than I’ve bonded with this one in just a year. Sure, I’ve driven better cars that I’ve probably enjoyed more (my BMW 1M comes to mind), but never has one car slotted so comfortably and happily into my daily life. Heading into northern Michigan on one of the best chains of roads in the country seemed like a good way to bond further.

As a vehicle, the MINI Roadster is built perfectly for one or two people. The car has a decently sized boot with a pass-through, and driving capabilities fit for any weather. Dry, wet, hot or cold; the Roadster can handle it with comfort and style. Mostly the past ten thousand miles have proven the Roadster as a brilliant everyday car. Yet it’s on these sorts of driver’s roads, on this kind of perfect summer day, that the Roadster is truly in its element. continued →

MF Vault: The MINI Clubman First Drive

MotoringFile Sections: MF Vault, R55 (Clubman), Reviews Jul 1st, 2013 6 Comments

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Welcome to MF Vault. Where we bring you the best of vintage MotoringFile in an effort to look back and maybe even re-evaluate. Five years ago there was no Clubman. There was no Countryman, Paceman, Coupe or Roadster. There was just the MINI and the MINI Convertible. With the addition of the Clubman MINI was dipping its toe in the water and seeing how far the brand could grow – literally. This is the first drive of that car in January of 2008.

The MINI Clubman is not the MINI reinvented. It’s not Americanized, supersized, or dumbed in any way. Instead what we have in the Clubman is the largest, most spacious MINI possible that still looks and performs like a MINI.

Yes the Clubman has more rear legroom and cargo space. 3.1 inches of extra legroom and 6.3 inches of extra storage space in the boot. That, along with various space saving nooks and crannies give the Clubman decidedly more versatility than the hardtop R56 MINI. But MINI was serious about creating something special inside the Clubman as well. The rear interior of the car (from the B-pillar forward it’s identical to the R56) was designed by the same interior designer who created the current interiors for Rolls Royce. While the quality of components may not be the same (no surprises there) the attention to detail and craftsmanship is obvious. continued →

A Day Out at the Autobahn Country Club

MotoringFile Sections: Reviews May 15th, 2013 No Comments

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Recently the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL, invited our sister site BimmerFile to experience a few of the ways that the public can enjoy a little of what the club has to offer. Possibly the best way to do this is through their Autobahn Performance Fleet, a program whereby manufacturers lend a few of their performance oriented models for club members’ and the public’s use. And of course it was a great way to keep tabs on the latest enthusiast focused products that aren’t BMWs or MINIs as well as get re-aquainted with the Autobahn Country Club

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MF Garage: Our Roadster’s First Spring Road-trip

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Apr 15th, 2013 12 Comments

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With a quickly packed bag in the trunk and the Valentine 1 mounted on the windshield, the MINI Roadster and its first spring road trip gets underway just as the sun begins to climb into the morning sky. Our little JCW Roadster has done countless miles on this kind of road trip already but it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to go on one with weather worthy of top-down motoring. If all goes according to plan, that should happen today.

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MF Garage: The JCW Roadster Tackles Winter

MotoringFile Sections: JCW, MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Feb 28th, 2013 14 Comments

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When we took possession of our long term JCW Roadster we told you we wanted to find out if the soft-top could indeed be an everyday, all year car. In the sun of California or other warm climates, it’s easy for the Roadster to make sense. Yet what happens when you throw it at the upper midwest? After six months of time with the car we’re starting to get a good answer to that. continued →

Review: MINI Paceman Cooper S ALL4

MotoringFile Sections: Opinion, R61 (Paceman), Reviews Feb 25th, 2013 41 Comments

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MINI is a car brand that means a lot of different things to a great many people. For some, it’s about economy. For others, it’s style. For many, MINI is about performance. Thing is, they’re all right. MINI is a brand and a range of cars intended to live in a variety of sweet spots at the intersections of these often conflicting areas of focus. As I left the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, behind the wheel of a Starlight Blue MINI Paceman Cooper S ALL4, I wondered just where on that multi-axis spectrum of MINI-ness this particular car would land. For MotoringFile, this would be our second time behind the wheel of MINI’s larger 2-door. Gabe drove the R61 back in November of last year. You can find his thoughts here, but this time around it was up to me and the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to see what MINI’s new slope-backed 2-door was all about. continued →


MF Review: Driving the JCW GP in the Wild

MotoringFile Sections: JCW GP, Reviews Feb 8th, 2013 49 Comments

This week I had the opportunity to not just drive the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP, but drive it on real, imperfect roads. Specifically, I was able to put the car through its paces on the narrow, rough mountain roads outside Ponce, in Puerto Rico. Gabe drove this limited edition car for the first time in Spain a few months back as part of the international product launch, but that was on the track (check out the video and written reviews). Impressive as the car was in that context, we both wondered what the car would be like in the wild. So we went to the twisting roads of Puerto Rico to find out.

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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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MotoringFile Reviews

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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