We’ve reviewed the manual F56 Cooper previously but never have had a chance to live with it and experience it so thoroughly. Does it hold up?

Here are some of our notes over the course of the last seven days of driving the wheels off of it:

– This is a great place to spend time. 500 miles in three days felt easy with great seats, excellent visibility and much of the harshness dialed out with more feedback dialed in.
– The light clutch is something you quickly get used to. The feel is still there but just not as pronounced as before
– This is not an MCS. For those who might have expected to move from the R53 MCS to this car, you will be disappointed with the stock suspension settings (although I quite like the ride/vs body roll) and the throttle mapping – even in sport. Furthermore this is an engine that doesn’t build to a frenetic crescendo but produces refined and throaty roar up to redline. Never have I driven a car that I wanted to throw a proper free-flow exhaust onto more.
– While it does’t feel as quick as the original R53 Cooper S, it’s not far behind it. You can easily lose traction in both 1st and 2nd gear from a dead stop.
– The sound is addicting. The F56 Cooper rooaaarrrs. That gives the car (finally) a very unique character over the MCS and one that will gain many fans in the years to come.
– It’s worth saying it again, the sport seats are surpurb. I’ve put almost 600 miles on this car so far and have zero complaints. At 6′ 2″ that is something.
– MPG was as impressive as expected. I routinely averaged 44 mpg cruising at 70 mph. Overall our Cooper averaged just under 38 mpg with plenty of mixed driving.


Our car was nicely equipped with about every option you would want if you were buying a MINI for an urban environment. Almost every key option except HUD, LED lights and sport/adaptive suspension. Truth be told I could do without them in an effort to keep the price below $30k and the car just a tad simpler. Speaking of options here are a few thoughts on what we did have:

– The new XL Navigation is excellent. It’s finally got the latest iDrive software design which puts it on parity with all new BMW’s (finally).
– The ability for music to seamlessly move from USB to Bluetooth (when you unplug your phone) is a great addition. Just make sure you tick the Enhanced Bluetooth box.
– Using the iDrive with the armrest took some getting use to given the fact I’m rather tall. You either have to move it into the lower position or move it up and out of the way entirely. And even then I constantly bumped my elbow. Otherwise the design of the armrest is pretty interesting with it’s heat dissipating design intended to keep your charging smartphone from getting too hot in the confined compartment.
– I have to admit something. I’ve never personally liked or considering Chili Red. However Blazing red I love. I regret not choosing it for our long term F56 MCS test car coming later this summer.
– The Leatherette is good in the F56 but the Black Pearl (leatherette and recycled wool) is well worth the $750.
– The 17″ wheel/tire combo is much less harsh than previous size run flats on the R56 or R53. Curious to know what 18s will be like in our long-termer.
– The sunshades now block the sun. Arizona MINI fans – rejoice.

In short I came away more impressed with the Cooper after spending some quality time behind the wheel. The character that was evident in our first drive last winter came out in spades as the miles clicked by. And ownership value prop has gone up dramatically. Not only is the new Cooper more engaging than the R56 Cooper but it’s offers more technology, comfort and performance by a wide margin.

We’ll have much more on the F56 MINI as we take delivery of another version late this week. And finally in about a month we should be welcoming into the MF family our very own Cooper S long-termer.