Section: Reviews

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 30 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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MF Review: The MINI Paceman Cooper S All4

MotoringFile Sections: R61 (Paceman), Reviews Jul 18th, 2013 63 Comments


The Paceman lies in a space between expectations. Too large to be a proper MINI and too small to be a truly utility-focused vehicle. That’s what I heard time and time again from friends and bystanders during my week with the R61 MINI. It’s got two doors in the space of four and it’s got mass in places that MINI’s historically haven’t had it. Yet why do I like it so much?

In my first two drives in the car I’ve come away impressed with its MINI-like performance characteristics, interior accommodations and surprising boot space. In many ways this is the car that rights some of the Countryman’s wrongs. The Paceman sports improved handling characteristics, thanks to subtle suspension tweaks. It has improved looks, thanks to the added dimensionally of the rear flanks and sloping roofline. These improvements, plus interior trim upgrades, all add up to a greater good. continued →

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

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


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


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 →

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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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