Well, it’s that time of year again. That time when J.D. Power gives MINI a terrible “dependability” rating. This year MINI didn’t simply score low in the study, but came in at the bottom of the list. For those who aren’t familiar with this study, it measures “problems per 100 vehicles” over a three year period. So it’s not a measure of initial quality, or an accounting of significant mechanical failures. Instead, it’s a measure of “problems” with no distinction between an engine bursting into flames and a cup holder being too small for the owner’s big gulp. That’s not exactly stellar methodology if you ask me, so take these results (the good and the bad) with a small pile of salt.
That said, the numbers are still pretty good. Statistically, one MINI had 2.2 “problems” of unknown severity in three years, all of which were probably covered under warranty. Big deal? The best performer on the list, Lincoln, had 1.1 “problems” per car over three years. Does that actually make Lincoln more dependable? There’s no way to know from the rankings and that’s my qualm with JDP.
We’re certainly MINI fans, but we’re not MINI apologists. All machines are susceptible to mechanical problems, and MINI has had issues that they’ve had to address. The 2011 engine refresh wasn’t just about efficiency and power. It also addressed the infamous “cold start issue” and other nags in the powerplant. The interior has evolved to address the difficulty of the stereo controls. No doubt those were among the “problems” reported in the study. But where MINI has set themselves apart plenty of times is in their willingness to actually address issues mid-generation. The 2006 R50 was a significantly improved car over the 2002. Same with the R53. Additionally, in the past year Toyota, Honda and other automakers near the top of this “dependability” study have had to order massive, embarrassing recalls. Did MINI?