What you’re looking at is the NM Engineering RSe12. An 18lbs 18″ wheel that has not only transformed the look of our long term Cooper S but improved steering response, feel and (along with the Continental Extreme Contact DW) performance. In short they have made us fall in love again with our F56.

But let’s back up for a minute. Over the years we’ve eschewed the virtues of both OEM and aftermarket wheels. We’ve done everything from OZs to pricey (and heavy) MINI after sales 18″ JCW wheels. Why go aftermarket? A few different reasons.

– Often lighter in weight which offers excellent performance and even efficiency benefits
– More variety of design
– Often less expensive

After staying true to OEM mods for years we decided we’d venture back out into the MINI aftermarket world. And after a long search there was one wheel that we kept coming back to. NM Engineering RSe12 is based a classic design that’s reminiscent of my BMW 1M 19″ wheels which themselves are based on a number of classic motorsport designs.

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But looks aren’t everything. The RSe12 uses flow forming process manufacturing process which allows for strength and light weight construction. Here’s what Tirerack has to say about the process:

>The flow forming process begins with a low pressure type of casting and uses a special machine that spins the initial casting, heats the outer portion of the casting and then uses steel rollers pressed against the rim area to pull the rim to its final width and shape. The combination of the heat, pressure and spinning create a rim area with the strength similar to a forged wheel without the high cost of the forging. Some of the special wheels produced for the O.E.M. high performance or limited production vehicles utilize this type of technology resulting in a light and strong wheel at a reasonable cost.

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The result is a 18″ wheel that only weighs a hair over 18 lbs. That in turn reduces unsprung weight (the best possible weight on your car to reduce). It’s had immediate affect on our F56 allowing for more lively turn-in, steering that is more communicative and grip limits that are increased. Ride has been affected (as you’d expect) but not as much as you’d expect thanks to going from run flats to standard tires.

We’ll have much more on how our long term F56 Cooper S and the RSe12 fare day to day soon. Until then we’re off to find some twisties.