It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year since I picked up my car from Knauz MINI on that Friday afternoon June 3rd. It still feels new, drives like new and smells new. So it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that it’s now been a year. For posterity’s sake (and since there seems to be quite a few interested in this kind of thing) I thought I’d offer up my thoughts on the car, the options, the mods, and the experience of the first year.

There’s really not a whole lot that can be said about my Cooper S that hasn’t been dissected and talked about to death at this point. Yes, the 2005 modifications MINI made are fantastic. No, I didn’t keep my car stock. Yes I love the end results. That could about sum it up if I wanted to keep it short and sweet. However since when have I kept anything short and sweet?

The Options.
Some of you may remember the enormous debate that surrounded the speccing of my car back in April of 2005. If not, maybe this or this will ring a bell. Here’s the full list of what I finally decided on:

  • Black/Black – The Darth Vader of MINIs. In many ways the opposite of my first MINI. Taking care of it has been harder than Indie Blue but with Zaino it’s easier than it should be.
  • Chrome Trim (exterior) – I just could not say no to the bling. And since it’s a MINI, it just makes sense.
  • Limited Slip Differential – Simply a must have now that it’s finally available.
  • Rear foglight – A bargain at $100. Also gets rid of that nasty black plate on US MINIs.
  • Sport Pack – love the features and it’s hard to re-sell it without.
  • Premium Pack – The sunroof is just too nice to pass-up.
  • Cold Weather Pack – This is the one non-negotiable option that my wife demands.
  • Cloth/Leather: Octogan Tartan Red. – Not only does it introduce some red into the car interior, but it’s great combination of materials. The fabric allows the seat to stay cool in the summer and warm quickly in the winter while the leather looks and feels great.
  • Chrome Trim (interior) – Living without it for three years I just felt I needed a bit more bling in the cabin. It also has worked very well with the leather dash.
  • Anthracite Dash – Looks good with the chrome trim but it didn’t last the year :).
  • Anthracite Headliner – I feel obligated since MotoringFile may have played a part in this option coming back. It also works very well with the seats and the leather dash in creating a very sporting feel.
  • JCW 18″ Wheels – S-lites w/All Season tires for the winter, JCW 18’s for the summer… the perfect OEM combo IMHO. And living in Chicago with 17’s for the past three years has taught me how to miss potholes… so I upped the ante a little bit. And after a year I’m happy to say that I have no regrets. The 18’s have felt great on both the street and the track. They’ve also held up very well to some of the worst roads in the nation (God Bless Chicago). Even the wear has been surprisingly impressive.

Here’s a few others options that didn’t make it and why:

  • H/K – Not really a big fan of it considering the cost.
  • Chrono pack. – I’m personally not a fan of the look and prefer the center speedo.
  • Navigation – For many of the same reasons as above. That said if there was a way to offer this from the factory while keeping the center speedometer, it would have been tough to pass up.
  • iPod adapters – Moved my ICE-Link Plus over from my previous MINI so no need for the BMW version.
  • Convertible – While I really enjoy the MINI Convertible, I’m just more of a coupe guy. I like the weight savings and the extra rigidity. Plus I needed at least the Sports Suspension Plus, which is not available on either the MCc or the MCSc.
  • Automatic – The MCSa is a fine car but I’m just not one to own an auto. Besides, I think my wife would have disowned me.

Now let’s take a look at what I’ve added in the past year:

There’s been little in the way of drama over the past year of ownership. Really about the only thing that I can think of that has been a mechanical issue was a passenger side engine mount that went bad around 10,000 miles. Otherwise it’s been boring in lack of issues. Certainly something I couldn’t say about my 2002 Cooper.

Performance has also lived up to expectations. The gearing and engine improvements along with the addition of a limited slip differential has noticeably improved the cars performance both on and off the track from the previous MCS. The pulley, intake and exhaust have helped further that.

Speaking of improving, it’s hard to find an area in the interior where MINI designers and engineers didn’t improve things over the 02-04 cars. Literally almost every component has been altered in some way. Gone are many of the squeaks and rattles of the earlier cars. They are replaced with simple yet reassuring thud whenever you hit bumps. Quite an improvement.

My final mileage for the year ended up just around 11,000. It would have been around 9,000 if I hadn’t taken my car to the Dragon last month followed by a quick trip to Northern Wisconsin.

The Sum of the Parts.
From selling my previous car to speccing, ordering and then breaking in my current MCS (except for the #@#$&%#! &%@#&! who hit me after only seven days of ownership) I can’t think of one regret. The options I chose have turned out to be a perfect combination for my needs and the modifications I’ve made to the car have only added to the day to day enjoyment.