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  #1  
Old 02-14-2007, 04:23 PM
philippek philippek is offline
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Location: Redondo Beach, CA
 
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Mein Auto: Z4 M Cpe, Miata, X6 50i
Drove an '07 S

First, the good:

Styling--retains all of the MINI's flavor and cheekiness while offering a few interesting updates and refinements. The car isn't much bigger than the 1st gen but it just looks and feels more substantial, beefier, meatier, heftier and more significant. The only item I'm mixed about is the black honeycomb grill. Should've kept the body-color slats, IMO, and make the honeycomb an accessory. Minor quibble. The materials quality is light years beyond it's price point, and right up there with its more expensive BMW brethren.

Options--I'm told something like 2 trillion possible combinations. You can customize the seat surfaces, headliner, interior plastics, interior trim, and chrome accents. Color combos abound. Of course contrasting body/roof/mirror caps as we've come to expect. Nice wheel selections. And some truly high-end options: Comfort Access, Bluetooth and Real Time Traffic. And some back-to-basics enthusiast options: sport suspension (now optional, even on the S) and a real LSD.

Seats and Ergonomics--The seats are a big improvement. Still no adjustable thigh support, but firm, supportive and grippy. A tilt and telescoping wheel makes finding the right driving position easy. And all the controls are within reach and logically arranged. The stereo might be a tad busy. A bank of toggles still adorns the lower center stack, with semi-circular guards to protect accidental activation.

Engine--Wow. Did I say wow? How about another wow. WOW. Reminds of the 335i engine in a few ways: A revving and free-spinning nature. A lack of the typical import turbo sounds. No whooshes, no squeaks, no peeeps. Adequate low-end torque. And just a lot of power. I would not be surprised to learn that this engine is very underrated. It feels just a hair's breadth away from a Works-equipped engine from the 1st gen. How about one last WOW.

Transmission--Just delicious. Very similar feel to the 1st gen, which is pretty high praise. Short throws, well-weighted action, no half measures. Clutch is smooth and light, with some feedback short engagement. Working your left leg and right hand couldn't be more fun without taking off your clothes.

And now for the bad.

And it is pretty bad.

If you were charitable, you'd call the steering weird. If you were somewhat less than charitable, you might call the steering dangerous.

High-quality torque steer is available in generous quantities, on demand. Under acceleration, on flat surfaces, in a straight line, the steering wheel will wiggle, jiggle and sniggle. As you accelerate the steering gets heavier and less responsive, but in a very non-linear and unnatural way. Should you go over a road irregularity on this acceleration run the car will grab it, take you with it, and go with it. And believe me, you want no part of it.

And that's in a straight line.

This same behaviour is amplified when trying to get the car to change directions. It is very confidence-sapping. It makes you not want to drive the car enthusiastically, for fear of what it will do to you. Don't push this MINI too hard, it will bite back at you.

Thank God for traction control, which intervenes none too soon in this application, bringing you back within the same zip code as your intended line. This car did not have an LSD or sport suspension, which I would hope might mitigate some of this tomfoolery. I'll see if I can get my hands on one to see for myself.

As it is, I'm sorry to say I'd have to give this MINI a big For all the things they did right, they screwed up one thing which ruins the fun factor of this car. And if you can't have fun in a MINI, shouldn't you be driving a Prius?

My advice: pick up an 06 while you can, because it will take them a couple of years (hopefully less) to iron this out. Shame.

Last edited by philippek; 02-14-2007 at 04:26 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2007, 12:34 PM
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AndyM AndyM is offline
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The Torque Steer is very disappointing. This is something I have not come across in the reviews I have seen. Would the LSD help with this issue?
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  #3  
Old 02-27-2007, 12:35 PM
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mtbscott mtbscott is offline
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I drove two MCS's last week, one with Sports Suspension plus, the other without. The base suspension has lots more body roll and a more vague steering feel. Sports suspension felt very much in character, much like my '06 MCS did. My biggest beef is that you have to pay extra for it on the S, I don't think any cars with LSD are here yet but I would get that too, it erases much of the torque steer drama.
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  #4  
Old 02-27-2007, 04:15 PM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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Mein Auto: '04 330i
Did you try the Sport button?

Every European review worth reading criticizes the steering. BMW should just quit screwing around and just source all their steering from Toyota.

Oh well, guess we'll have another steering fix in 2008.
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:31 AM
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mtbscott mtbscott is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawg90 View Post
Did you try the Sport button?

Every European review worth reading criticizes the steering.
Yes to Sport button. Unlike the Sport button on my E46 M3, the one on the MINI makes the car feel better, not just make the throttle response twitchy. Steering??? Felt okay to me after driving a 2006 for over 25K miles. The test drive route had a couple of tight circle ramps as well as some higher speed S turns and I was pleased with the feel in the Sports suspension car. Liking the car is purely subjective but I think MINI hit a homerun in updating the car.
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  #6  
Old 03-01-2007, 10:02 AM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbscott View Post
Yes to Sport button. Unlike the Sport button on my E46 M3, the one on the MINI makes the car feel better, not just make the throttle response twitchy. Steering??? Felt okay to me after driving a 2006 for over 25K miles. The test drive route had a couple of tight circle ramps as well as some higher speed S turns and I was pleased with the feel in the Sports suspension car. Liking the car is purely subjective but I think MINI hit a homerun in updating the car.
Cool. I'm interested in a JCW model in 2008, if the stories are true that it'll be an M style separate model.
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