Yesterday was perfect weather, cool and not humid here in NC. My brother is inquiring in a Mini Cooper S, so we went to go look at one yesterday. Since my brother cannot drive a manual, he wanted me to test drive the car and give him some feedback. Had a nice 20 minute session with the salesman and my brother, and here are some impressions:
Looking at the car, it is small. Not Geo storm small, but pretty close to it. The S is very nice looking with the deeper front spoiler, center mounted exhaust, and few other touches. Some interesting things that I noticed on the car was the fact that the headlights were mounted on the hood, and the switch buttons in the center console (don't need 12V for those). But only thing that I am concerned with is that if someone rear ends you, the repairs would be very costly since the car hardly has a butt.
The engine is smooth, but on the loud side compared to my car. Partly due to the supercharger (not too much whine), and the power delivery is smooth and linear. Under 3000 rpm, it's pretty weak, and even passed this point, there is more power, but linear. Not too much jerking motion, but the supercharger helps out the mini a lot. Wonder if BMW would go the distance to put in the valvetronic 4-banger in the Mini...:dunno:
The gearbox has its advantages and disadvantges. The shifts are smooth and hardly have resistance. But it is very numb, and for awhile I felt like I didn't have to shift the car to make it move because I didn't receive any feedback (unlike my car where drivetrain vibration and resistance is evident). The throws are long, and shifting to even gears (2,4,6), can protrude to the rear a bit too much. The clutch is smooooooth, and hardly fussy. This is one of the most idiot proof manuals I have ever driven (except the S2000). Even a novice manual driver should be able to execute shifts perfectly given a few days.
The ride is harsh compared to my car. Since it is a short car, I guess this would have to do with some of the car's driving dynamics. Bumps can be felt more profoundly. But for some reason, I felt that the car had less body roll than my car. Had a nice course where I had a chance to go through some nice consecutive s-curves, and the car handled very well. Torque steer is only evident in hard initial starts, and high end 2nd gear curves. The car will jump over road bumps though. This is about the only front wheel drive car I could live with besides the prelude. I took the same course with my car after the test drive, and although my car handled a little better with a bit more lean, the weight differentiation between the two cars could not be ignored. The Mini is nimble.
The interior is nice and retro. The platina interior trim pieces are a nice touch. Rear seat room isn't too bad, but not for adults. The sport seats are comfortable. I don't like the idea of a center mounted speedometer, and it was distracting for me. The only cheap piece I saw in the car was the interior door grab handles that were silver plastic, and you could see imperfection lines within the plastic. The shade within the sunroof is a nice touch, but I wish there was an armrest. The driving position is unique, but not awkward (further away from the widshield compared to my car). Didn't test out the stereo though
Overall, I think it's a very nice car for its money. I would recommend it to anyone who is in the market for a car at this price range. Only other car I can comparing this to is the RSX which I haven't driven yet. But the heritage is there, and although I haven't driven the old one, I like the fact that most of the components of this car are derivations from my car and priced much less. Now only if the mark-ups would stop and the enthusiasts can get there hands on it..
To finish a good day off, I went to go watch Star Wars Ep.II at 12:30 a.m. (first show!). It was fairly good, but I felt it went a little too fast. Will definitely have to watch it again:thumb: . Sorry for the long post, hope you enjoyed it