Section: Reviews

Battle of the 3 Cylinders: MINI vs. Ford

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, In the Press, Reviews Jun 19th, 2014 56 Comments


The idea of a gas powered three cylinder engine was crazy talk (for those who liked SMART) only a few years ago but now there are two new models featuring such power plants on American shores. Enter the all new for 2014 MINI Cooper and The Ford Fiesta EcoBoost 1.0l. Two cars with small engines targeting very different customers but both dreaming of high fuel economy. Autoguide put these two head to head.

The MINI is expensive for a subcompact, but you can see the point of paying the premium as soon as you step into the car.

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MotoringFile Review: The 2014 MINI Cooper Manual

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews Apr 7th, 2014 30 Comments


Making a Case for the Cooper.

MINI has a unique problem with the Cooper. Traditionally it’s been this swiss army knife within the MINI model range. Sure it’s never been near as fast as the Cooper S, but through every generation, MINI has allowed potential owners the opportunity to spec a Cooper to essentially the same levels of handling. However as the years have gone by and new generations have been released, MINI’s customer base has expanded into a broader segment of the populace. Because of this MINI has wisely made the base (i.e. non-sport suspension) Cooper a little more compliant and perhaps inline with the expectations of a typical consumer. Naturally it’s still more go-kart in feel than other small cars (and certainly more premium) but there’s a little more room between the Cooper and Cooper S with every generation.

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MotoringFile Video Review: 2014 F56 MINI Cooper & Cooper S

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews, Video Feb 5th, 2014 41 Comments


Last week we had a day to spend with the all new 2014 F56 MINI Cooper and Cooper S. During that time we roamed the mountain passes and ocean front roads to bring you our first thoughts on MINI’s most important car since the launch of the R50 in 2001. But we also wanted to bring you more than just written words and photos from the launch.

So one take, no script, 20 minutes and a GoPro camera, we had our first video review of the F56 MINI Cooper and Cooper S. Check it out after the break.

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MotoringFile Review: The 2014 MINI Cooper & Cooper S

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews Jan 31st, 2014 93 Comments


The thing about driving in Puerto Rico is that there are a lot of stray dogs littering the roads. Relaxed and seemingly unaware of any potential danger, they roam the countryside with a casual authority. Their reign on the roadside wreaked havoc on my nerves as I put mile after island mile on the next generation MINI Cooper and Cooper S.

Then there are Puerto Rico’s roads. They’re twisty and feature plenty of elevation changes. They challenged me like any foreign twisty road will. However these roads are about the width of a typical American driveway — often with significant drop-offs on each side. Remember those dogs? They’re right on the edge of the road with what seems like supreme confidence that, no matter the situation, you’ll figure out how to avoid them and oncoming traffic, all while not having a heart attack.

Luckily, I was in the right car.

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2014 MINI Cooper & Cooper S: First Driving Impressions

MotoringFile Sections: F56 Hatch, Reviews Jan 30th, 2014 31 Comments


Somehow, some way, they’ve done it. MINI has increased the size and refinement of the car while making it feel more immediate, more fun and more (dare we say it) MINI. Let’s be honest. Since MINI introduced the Countryman and Paceman there’s been a growing concern that they didn’t know how to create something that felt as alive as the R50 or R53. In talking with MINI engineers today, it was clear that they felt they had something to prove. From what I’ve experienced today, they did just that with a MINI that felt more alive in my hands than anything since the R53 — all while feeling every bit as fast as a R56 JCW.

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MotoringFile Review: the All Electric BMW i3

MotoringFile Sections: BMW i, Reviews Dec 2nd, 2013 16 Comments


So there was this 135is — dirty in the wrong ways, with all the signs that it hadn’t been taken care of in a proper fashion. Yet there it was, carving up and through the four lane road we were on just west of LA. As I remarked to myself about his lack of respect for the car and inability to apex correctly, I realized I had the perfect tool to teach him a lesson: the BMW i3. While fully electric, the i3 is undeniably quick – especially in the 0-30 range, and despite its upright nature, will corner smartly with a surprising amount of feedback through the steering and the suspension.

I pulled up next to him. I could feel his eye widen as the glow of Solar orange reflected on his once Alpine White 1-Series. The light turned green and I was, gone never to be seen again.

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MF Garage: Open Top Showdown. Roadster vs. Moto

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, Opinion, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Aug 14th, 2013 20 Comments


It’s no secret that our MotoringFile long-term review car, a MINI JCW Roadster, has won us over to open top motoring. Between the grunt of the turbo, the overall refinement of the options we chose, and the infinite sky above our heads, driving the Roadster is a MINI motoring experience unlike any we’ve experienced before. Gabe has likened this visceral, out-in-the-world experience to riding a motorcycle. That’s his estimation, anyway. Gabe’s never actually ridden a motorcycle through the open countryside.

I, on the other hand, have a running motorcycle for every day of the week. I’ve been riding since 2007, and that open air riding experience is a big part of the lasting appeal. So in short, I can confirm Gabe’s assertion that driving the JCW Roadster has many motorcycle-like qualities. Yet it wasn’t until I spent a week with the Roadster myself that I understood just where those overlaps are.

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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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'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
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JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
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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
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Podcast: BMW 325i
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'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
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'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
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Autocrossing the MINI Range