Road & Track has pitted the F56 Cooper S against the Volkswagen GTI and for many of the MINI faithful, the results may come as a surprise.
Car journalists have one of the toughest jobs out there. Sure it comes with perks, but at the end of the column, they often have to declare a winner someone reading the comparison inevitably feels a little hurt that their favorite didn’t come up on top. In this comparison, the Cooper S was simply outmatched.
On the power side of things, the GTI tested had a performance package which brought it from 210 to 220 hp. The standard Cooper S, as you may know, is 189 hp but, as the reviewer explains, “It isn’t enough” despite being 339 lbs. lighter than the GTI.
Unfortunately for the featured F56 MINI, they ran stock suspension instead of Sport Suspension ($500) or Dynamic Damper Control ($500) which are available as options and included standard in MINIs sport package. Most Cooper S owners would likely choose sport suspension at a minimum. As result, the bumblebee-like F56 didn’t inspire kudos for handling. Adding to the frustration, the GTI had summer tires while the MINI had standard all-season tires. We can’t help but wonder how the MINI would have fared with sport suspension and a sticky set of summer tires.
In just about every area, including available stowage space, the MINI took a drubbing. The news wasn’t all bad, though. It was noted that the MINI interior was consistently quieter in all conditions than the GTI and that the MINI gear shift knob didn’t feel, “…like the top half has come off in your hand.” They also liked the exhaust note in sport mode.
It’s a bit of a shame that for $1250 more the MINI could have come with 17″ wheels and Sport Suspension that may have put it ahead of the GTI on the slalom, and that the GTI included a performance package while the MINI, even though a sport package is available, did not.
It’s also interesting to note that by contrast, Australian web site carsguide.com.au recently compared these two cars and pretty much declared them even. Even off the line, they registered only a 0.2 second difference from 0 to 62 mph, while Road & Track’s 0-60 showed more than a half second difference. The cars were only 0.1 second apart at 50 mph according to Road & Track, but apparently the GTI really pours it on between 50 and 60 mph.
You can read the entire Road & Track comparison here.