A major part of the fun in ordering a MINI is youification – making it your own. With my 2007 MINI, I’m planning on making it my own in a couple big ways and many small ones. In fact, a couple of these options are as essential as any of the factory options in giving the car it’s own character. First let’s talk about the standard stuff.

With my order I’ll be opting to have the following installed at the VPC (as arranged by my dealer):

Accessories: VPC Installed

JCW Aero Kit – MSRP (painted and installed): $2500 – The JCW Aero Kit gives the MINI a subtly more aggressive look with the more angular front apron and all black grille. It’s also the reason I won’t be getting the exterior chrome-line trim from the factory. While I personally could do without the fake side scoops, it’s hard to argue that they don’t look the business. That said, the rear portion of the kit is what I would call an acquired taste. It just so happens that, in Astro Black (my color of choice), it’s easier to acquire. The potential awkwardness of the faux air diffusers on each side is lessened and the general shape has a chance to stand out. That… and shape is pretty freakin’ sweet IMHO. The effect – finished in all black and Astro Black – gives the car sinister look. It also furthers the dichotomy that I love in the MINI.

iPod/Navigation Integration – MSRP: $500 – My iPod (soon to be an iPhone) is my stereo so this is mandatory. And with the new full interface integration, it’s even more a no brainer.

Accessories: Dealer Installed (Knauz MINI)

Now for the good stuff. Assuming launch dates don’t get pushed back, my car should be arriving as both the JCW Engine Kit and JCW Suspension are released in the US in early July.

JCW Engine Kit – MSRP: $2100 – This is the kit we’ve often referred to as the “Stage One” and the one that MINI made official in Geneva last March. The kit features 192bhp and 199ft·lbf of torque with overboost. Considering the stock 2007 MCS is currently running ahead of modded R53s at the track, I can only imagine what this will feel like. It’ll also mark the first time I’ve had the full JCW engine kit on any MINI of mine. However it was only after spending time with a stock R56 that I realized that I didn’t have any desire to wait for the rumored “Stage Two” kit – 199ft lbf of torque will do just fine. I’ll be not only reviewing the kit itself but also documenting the installation at my dealer, Knauz MINI.

JCW Suspension Kit – MSRP: $875 – Yes this kit is real and it will be launching by the time my car arrives in early July. The kit is different from the previous JCW Suspension kit for the R50/R53 in that it now includes upgraded front and rear sway bars for more neutral handling. I’ve long held that the JCW Suspension kit for the previous generation was the most underrated JCW component of them all. It not only made the car handle more deftly (lift-off oversteer was a thing of beauty) but it also allowed for better power delivery out of corners. All while actually improving the ride. These changes, combined with the superior aluminum rear suspension of the R56, should take it from a 10 to an 11… out of 10.

The R56 JCW Suspension kit – like the previous version – also drops the car 1cm. Not exactly a radical change but it’ll be welcome nonetheless. As much as I love the look of the R56 slammed, I live and drive on streets that are already bottoming-out my R53 w/stock suspension. The last thing I want to get is a call from my wife telling me to pick up the rest of the exhaust that just was just torn off at the corner of Chicago and Halstead. For me it’s less about aesthetics and more about performance coupled with livability. Based on the previous suspension kit, this clearly seems like the right choice given those parameters.

Like the engine kit, I’ll not only be reporting on the performance of the suspension but also there to report on the installation at Knauz.

Accessories: Garage Day Installs

Once I get the car back home, the real fun begins. With the help of the usual garage night crew, we’re going to get hands on with the R56. Here’s a quick list of what accessories and installs are on tap in the first few weeks:

JCW Leather Steering Wheel – MSRP: $585 – Once you go JCW wheel, you don’t go back. Since I’ve lived with it on my R53 for a year now, it’s not an option for the R56, it’s mandatory. In fact I’d call it a requirement. However this time I may go with the all-leather version over the leather/alcantara that I have had. While I love the feel of the synthetic suede, the all-leather might make more sense in my car with the Lounge leather seating. Unlike the suspension however, this is one project that is easily taken care with a little DIY.

OZ Ultraleggeras 18″ Wheels – MSRP: $300 each – Yes I already own these as they’ve been on my R53 for almost a year. However they are no brainers for the R56. At 16.8lbs and with the razor edge feel of 18″ wheels, they really liven up the steering’s immediacy.

Shift/eBrake Boots – MSRP: ??? – I’m not sure if I want to go with the JCW leather boots or simply go aftermarket for leather with white/creme stitching. Either way the pleather versions that will come with the car will be replaced.

Helix Short Shifter – MSRP: $44.95 – With the R56’s shifting action being so slick, you really don’t need to worry about the increased effort required for shifts generally found in R53’s with the same mod. And while I still love the feel of short shift kits on the previous MCS, the knife through butter action on the new MINI makes this mod all the more enjoyable.

Of course this is just the beginning. This list will surely change and grow over the next few months and naturally we’ll have reviews of it all.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to my dealer – something I neglected to do in the previous article. This will be my third MINI bought with the help of my MA David Olenick and Knauz MINI and I couldn’t be happier. If there’s one piece of advice I could give anyone buying a new MINI it’s find both a great MA and dealership that is committed to helping you rather than simply selling a product. It not only helps the ordering process go smoothly but also helps with the dealer accessory portion as well. David and the rest of the folks at Knauz (both service and parts) have been phenomenal to deal with since way before MotoringFile even existed.


Buying a 2007 MCS: The Order ] MotoringFile.com

Buying a 2007 MCS: Let’s Hear Your Ideas ] MotoringFile.com