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Old 01-03-2008, 02:28 PM
Plaz's Avatar
Plaz Plaz is offline
Location: Churzee
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 16,118
Mein Auto: '11 1M;'08 MCS;'02 325iT
Test drove an R56 MCS

'07 MCS 6-speed with no sport package or LSD.

It's a little BMW, and feels like it. I was expecting horrific torque steer, but it was totally tolerable. It's there, but practically negligible. I bet with the LSD, sport suspension and some stickier tires (215/45/17 summers instead of 195/xx/16 all seasons?) it would have been mitigated even further.

Clutch was predictable, if a little numb. Shifter was typical BMW stock -- a tiny bit rubbery, with a slightly longer throw than I'd prefer, but a totally livable and satisfying rowing experience.

Steering was excellent, despite the electric boost... in sport mode. With the sport button off, it felt 10x more loosey-goosey... I can tell that button would always be pressed were I to own one.

Given that it's got just a little 1.6L blown 4-banger, it felt surprisingly peppy and torquey... minimal low-rev turbo lag, plenty of twist off the line and at low revs, without feeling like it runs out of steam too early in higher revs. Nice, smooth, consistent power... I like this engine a lot.

Overboost comes on at WOT for an extra kick in the pants... you can feel it, but it comes on smoothly. I was half-expecting a kickdown switch on the accelerator like a slushie E46, and a sudden torque-steery burst of go, but instead it was a gentle surge -- a composed effort of the engine to just do as directed. Very nice. Not gimmicky -- just useful.

I've never driven an R53, but I can't imagine the much praised s/c whine and exhaust burble from that Chrysler powerplant being more attractive than the ample torque and silky delivery this turbocharged BMW mill delivers. I don't understand the 1st generation purists on this issue.

The interior design, on the other hand, is extremely gimmicky. I imagine there are tons of ergonomic no-nos, though I can't detail any at present. I must admit I like the toggles, even though they don't really make sense... but they feel like quality switchgear. The climate controls are a little cheap feeling, but not horrible. Better than a Civic, not quite as nice as the E46.

The whole package is solid and tight feeling, though, like a teeny BMW should feel. It's really everything I like in a car, FWD excepted. But the test drive makes me think I could live with that, much to my surprise.

It really seems like the perfect car for fun street driving. I'm sure my RX-8 would be much more satisfying on the track, where its balance and handling elegance can shine. But I think the tight solidity, quicker steering, lightness, greater low end grunt, and overall German/BMW feel of the R56 probably give it an edge on the day-to-day street funometer. Not to even mention the fact that it drinks half as much.

I think I want one.
2011 1M
2008 MCS
2002 325iT
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Old 01-03-2008, 02:39 PM
gjhsu gjhsu is offline
Plucky MINI bloke
Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 63
Mein Auto: 2007 MINI Cooper S, LiB/W
Glad you liked the R56. The engine really is a gem. Over 100 ft-lbs of torque per liter is always nice, especially from as low as 1600rpm.

The thing with the interior is that it LOOKS gimmicky (which it kind of is), but the ergonomics are bang on. Seats, I think, are fantastic, and everything is within reach.

Gas mileage is phenomenal, too. If I'm just on the highway, I get upwards of 37-38mpg, while in the city, I'm still at about 30mpg.

:thumbsup: to BMW/MINI for this one.
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