I got lucky with a number of things when I managed to put my name on a pre-launch, pre-spec Cooper back in March of 2002. I found one in the color combo I wanted, with all the options I wanted (or were available at the time) and available when I needed it. Heck I even somehow got Xenon's which I've since been told weren't suppose to be available on pre-spec Coopers. So in the end I considered myself quite lucky. There was however one option that interested me that wasn't on my MINI of choice – Sports Suspension Plus.
At the time moving from a late model 3 series coupe to a MINI was such a revelation in handling (and the 3 series was amazing mind you) that I tried to talk myself into thinking I'd never really feel the need for the SS+. As time passed however I've was able to put a decent amount of miles on other MCSs and even on a friend's Cooper who had bought the option. Each time I came away more sure that I had to somehow get SS+ onto my Cooper.
The other thing I hadn't counted on was how much the regular suspension (and probably the SS+ to some degree) had “settled” after almost 30,000 miles. Body roll had become much more evident and turn-in wasn't as sharp as it once was. This change could be felt on everything from high speed sweepers to low speed 90 degree hard cornering. Mind you it wasn't something that most people would mind – in fact I know quite a few that would welcome a more compliant ride. However it was certainly made more noticeable after my time in a brand new Cooper loaner.
So when I found out a friend was putting on a new HR suspension I jumped at the chance to take his low mileage MCS SS+ suspension.
Installation was performed by a local shop and took just over 3.5 hours to complete. The total came to just under $300 – not bad for a $550 option!
The difference in my case was astounding. Turn in is far more crisp and exiting hard corners is done more comfortably. The overall difference in cornering stability is pronounced. The best way I can put is that there simply no drama when entering and exiting hard corners.
On the downside it has made the ride slightly less compliant than before. That being said even on the rough roads of Chicago I'd gladly sacrifice a slight bit of comfort for a more composed suspension.
Simply put this has been by far one of the best upgrades I've made. If any of you Cooper owners have the ability to get your hands on one as a take off of an MCS I'd highly recommend it.