We are coming to the end of a 3 year lease on a MINI Cooper hatch. Our MINI is an R56. This is nearly the same car as the new ones sold today.
Our previous cars were an 2007 X3 and a 2006 NC Miata. In 2008, we moved from ATL to North Wales, UK and the cars didn't come with us.
For the last 3 years the Cooper has been our DD. Our other car is a small European cargo van. The van has no back seats.
Limited cargo space is a non issue for us. There is enough room with the back seats up for daily use. Groceries and such. For weekend trips away, we manage with the back seats up. For longer trips or airport runs we have to put down one of the seats. Anything really big either goes in the Van or we have it delivered.
After 3 years:
The MINI is a fantastic commuter car. It is fun to drive and great on fuel. Handling is good for FWD. Power in the Cooper is adequate for daily use.
The primary controls are good. They are very BMW like.
The secondary control layout (radio, windows...) is a joke. Terrible. After 3 years, Debbie still doesn't know which knob turns on the radio. I often hit the wrong switch when I want to put down a window or turn on the fog lights. This never happened in our BMWs or the Miata.
Turning circle is surprisingly large for such a small car. Minor issue but I keep noticing that the MINI won't make tight manoeuvres that our larger van will. A non-issue in the US where the roads and parking garages are larger.
Worst fault. This car is terribly uncomfortable for long trips. After an hour we are both in pain. The problem is the seats and sitting position. There isn't enough support and you are sitting in an uncomfortable position. Clubman and coupe won't be any better as the front of the car is identical.
How bad is it? We rented a Caterham 7 and it was far more comfortable. If I had to choose between a 6 hour ride in a MINI and a 6 hour ride in a Caterham, I'd take the Caterham and a set of earplugs.
Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 01-05-2012 at 07:48 AM.