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Frank Bullitt

Test shotgun - MINI Cooper 1.5 3-pot slusher

Our friend recently replaced her Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge Dualogic with a new version MINI Cooper 1.5 turbo auto, it's got the Chilli pack, Volcanic Orange body with black roof, plus she went for the spare wheel and grey interior trim.

It's nice inside, the quality is lovely and the sports seats are very comfortable indeed - not really that much space as my knees were in he dashboard with FB junior behind me, but it was decent enough. The 500 was bigger in this respect. The Bluetooth phone refuses to work despite following the instructions and everything you touch feels great; loosing the huge central speedo isn't an issue. The boot is a waste of time and effort.

Outside it is very smart but I still can't quite get the new shape MINI; the R56 is a nicer looking car to me.

The ride is smooth enough, impressive for a small car in 17" wheels(or are they 16's?) although the road noise got on my tits after a short while. The 3-pot motor is an eager little beast, our friend drives like a Nun (we were being lost by a HGV on the motorway at one point) but she did give it beans and it sounded lovely in a way only 3-pots can, it has plenty of pull. 43.7mpg over 1000 miles but she does drive...slowly.

The MINI dealer offered her £1,000 off and a derisory part-ex (£3,500...); the 500, being a rare slusher, sold for her £5,800 asking price to a lady who paid in full before collecting and came 100 miles to collect.

There's lots to like and she is delighted with it (so was Mrs FB but FB junior preferred the 500) but it's not really my cup of tea, I wonder if the slightly larger 5dr model will float my boat more. Honestly, I'd rather have a C4 Cactus.
Racing Teatray

I'm not a fan of the new Mini - the original "new" Mini was cute but each generation gets fuglier.

Surprised about the space. Then again I am also always surprised at how much space there is in our 500 - four normal adults don't complain much around town and the boot is perfectly adequate for shopping. Then again, whilst it might be relatively short and narrow, the 500 is remarkably tall - it towers over the M135i.
gooner

The space issue in the new Mini is a shame as it clearly shows they've gone for form over function unlike the original which was the other way round.
Frank Bullitt

There was plenty of space in the footwell but my knees were against the dashboard so I couldn't have used it anyway.

I thought it would be more enjoyable than it turned out to be but given the option make mine a 500 twinair
Roadrunner

Our 2008 1.6 Cooper Clubman returns better MPG than the new three pot, it would seem.
BeN

Space aside, I'm quite a fan of the latest Mini. As a car for solo driving it's utterly lovely, and my favourite is actually the base model, the Mini One. It just feels so unpretentious and its 1.2-litre three-pot is pretty entertaining.
Big Blue

Re: Test shotgun - MINI Cooper 1.5 3-pot slusher

Frank Bullitt wrote:

The MINI dealer offered her £1,000 off and a derisory part-ex (£3,500...); the 500, being a rare slusher, sold for her £5,800 asking price to a lady who paid in full before collecting and came 100 miles to collect.


I always struggled with this mentality, until I got older and thought about it. To a MINI dealer the car is unsaleable as it's a FIAT not a MINI. He's making a bit of money on the MINI and would have some cash tied up in the FIAT until it was sold; that said he'd then have a timescale to get rid of the FIAT in mind so his risk profile (allied to whatever nonsense trade 'book' price exists) is based on him having to move that FIAT on in the trade and still recover the amount he's set-off against the MINI.

I was offered some stupid amount for my Gixxer as a trade in for a used 'Blade so it stays for the time being. The money was no issue but the idea that the dealer could make whatever he making on the 'Blade plus too much (for my taste) on a GSX-R he would never had had if I didn't trade it in made me baulk. It's a used 'Blade at another maker's dealership so that's costing him cost-of-cash for whatever he took it as a trade-in against so swapping it for mine would reduce his cost-of-cash. Ergo he can fuck off offering me stupidly low money.

The Fireblade is still at the dealer three weeks later and he won't shift it until March I reckon (it's a bike / it's winter).....

The recommended sale price for my late father's Polo was about £2k. It sold for £3½k to the first person that came to see it. Something about markets and supply and demand springs to mind.
Martin

It sounds rather dissapointing and I expected the 1.5 Cooper (manual) to be the sweet spot in the range.  The road noise would be the biggest issue for me, the Clubman S was as refined as car a size or two up.  Interestingly, driven in a similar manner, I'm told the Clubman is doing 43-44mpg, so close to the less powerful standard Cooper.

Unfortunately you didn't get chance to experience the way it feels to drive, which I always found to be its biggest strength, hopefully that's not been lost too!  It would be a huge shame, as the MINI is the only small car I've liked enough to consider buying.

I'd quite like to try a Fiat 500 to see what all the fuss it about, as there's a lot of love for it on the forum (although my parents didn't like the 500C they had after a few days).  
Racing Teatray

You should. I'm definitely now a 500 fan. Having tried both the 1.2 and Twinair 500s, I much prefer the latter, which is what my wife has in Lounge spec. We would have liked the cabrio version but the cost difference was too big to justify, plus it's not as practical.

Ours is heaps of fun to drive around London - nippy and characterful to drive with that evocative engine buzz, and it's also fairly classless (in London at least where they are 10 a penny like smarts and Minis) and a nice place to sit in. Having been in 500s with the optional black plastic trim as well as ours which has the optional ivory plastic trim, I am totally sold on the ivory option. I would never have picked it but it looks heaps more "premium" than the black alternative which just looks low-rent by comparison. And in Lounge spec, it really isn't lacking anything you need - we added a TomTom dock but that's as far as it goes spec-wise.
PG

Interesting to read this. A Mini Cooper auto would be my runabout car if I could justify one.  But the mpg seems disappointing frankly.

But every review I read of the new Mini mentions the excessive tyre noise. I think it is the super-energy tyres fitted in the quest for low CO2, some of which are also run flats. First thing is probably to ditch the OE tyres and put some proper ones on.

I do need to try a 500 to see if everything written is true. I've tried the twinair engine in a Mito and that was dreadful (noisy, slow, underpowered and awful gear ratios for the power band of the engine in a losse sloppy gearbox).  So ow can the 500 be so different?
Chris M Wanted a V-10

PG wrote:
I've tried the twinair engine in a Mito and that was dreadful (noisy, slow, underpowered and awful gear ratios for the power band of the engine in a losse sloppy gearbox).  So ow can the 500 be so different?

Depends how much power/acceleration you're used to, I suppose
Big Blue

I had a 500C this summer for a weekend. Buried in here somewhere.

Best small car by some distance. Like a Mk1 MX-5 it's one that must be tried by every petrolhead.
PhilD

PG wrote:
Interesting to read this. A Mini Cooper auto would be my runabout car if I could justify one.  But the mpg seems disappointing frankly.


Mini Cooper and auto don't go together in my head. Is it a modern whip-crack paddle jobby or an old school giffer-spec fun-spoiler?
Racing Teatray

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
PG wrote:
I've tried the twinair engine in a Mito and that was dreadful (noisy, slow, underpowered and awful gear ratios for the power band of the engine in a losse sloppy gearbox).  So ow can the 500 be so different?

Depends how much power/acceleration you're used to, I suppose


Well I am used to plenty of power and acceleration so it's not that.

A Mito weighs 1130kg whereas a 500 Lounge weighs in at just 930kg, so perhaps weight has more to do with it...

Also, the gearstick in the 500 is very well positioned - up and easily to hand on the dash (not quite Renault 4 positioning but still higher than average) - which makes it a pleasure to use.

I genuinely enjoy driving ours, and would only really want to swap it for the new 105bhp 6spd version of the Twinair (ours makes do with 85bhp and 5spd) with the opening top, although I suspect my wife wouldn't object to the Abarth version.
Frank Bullitt

PG wrote:
Interesting to read this. A Mini Cooper auto would be my runabout car if I could justify one.  But the mpg seems disappointing frankly.


The economy I think is a reasonable average - she drives like a nun, but her commute takes in 5 miles of which 2 is crawling through town and she turns off the stop-start for a reason I couldn't get out her; the car has also done a long run to their holiday home on Portland so I wouldn't suggest 43.7mpg is what you get when barely hitting 50mph on the motorway!

I was impressed with the gearbox, as a traditional slusher it is miles ahead of every DSG/ semi-auto I have tried; the engine made an odd pitch of noise when she was allowing it to crawl in traffic whilst on the brakes ara few mph, I think the 'pull' back and 3-pot were not doing each other any favours.

The wheels are standard 'Chilli' and I cant remember if that is 16" or 17" but it was loud; reminded me of the A6 S-Line I had a while back in that respect.

It also cost £19k with a bare smattering of options so a 500 Lounge twinair 105 would be a while hill of cash less; and in my opinion, better.
PG

Racing Teatray wrote:
Well I am used to plenty of power and acceleration so it's not that.

A Mito weighs 1130kg whereas a 500 Lounge weighs in at just 930kg, so perhaps weight has more to do with it...

Also, the gearstick in the 500 is very well positioned - up and easily to hand on the dash (not quite Renault 4 positioning but still higher than average) - which makes it a pleasure to use.


I think you've hit both nails on the head there.

The Mito with the 1.4 was a different car. With the twin air it struggled and the chasm between 2 and 3rd meant that when you had a bit of momentum in 2nd (banging off the rev limiter) the move up into 3rd just killed the revs to totally out of the power band. Hopeless.

And the gear lever is down by your ankles.
Gurney

The TwinAir in the Cross is a bit of an odd one as it's 90 bhp rather than 85 or 105 and it has a very low first gear for arsing about off road.

So far (and I had never driven a TA before in any guise) I am loving it but most of all I am loving the gearchange, it's an absolute peach with a lovely snickety feeling of meshing cogs mechanical feel. It also sprouts out of the dashboard Spider 105 series style which I love. I must admit to being a bit worried at going back to a manual after so many semi autos but this has made it a real pleasure.

Economy is pants but I have been told it takes 5k bare minimum before you see anything half decent.

As for the Mini I seriously considered it but just like FB space issues ruled it out and frankly (I did have a test sit/poke around) it did feel a bit tarts handbagish.

I don't imagine for one second that it would not thrash the Cross both on handling/performance/economy but it would still leave me stranded in muddy fields and guilty when I haven't time to wash it.
Roadrunner

Frank Bullitt wrote:
PG wrote:
Interesting to read this. A Mini Cooper auto would be my runabout car if I could justify one.  But the mpg seems disappointing frankly.


The economy I think is a reasonable average - she drives like a nun, but her commute takes in 5 miles of which 2 is crawling through town and she turns off the stop-start for a reason I couldn't get out her; the car has also done a long run to their holiday home on Portland so I wouldn't suggest 43.7mpg is what you get when barely hitting 50mph on the motorway!



Our 1.6 manual does about 42/43 MPG on the school run and dotting about the local lanes, about 45 MPG on a 12 mile commute and has done 50 MPG on a motorway run.
Racing Teatray

All I know about the economy of our 500 is that my wife has commented that is less economical than the smart MHD that preceded it. However, I don't think disastrously so and it has the advantage of being a real car rather than a motorised telephone booth.
BeN

PhilD wrote:
PG wrote:
Interesting to read this. A Mini Cooper auto would be my runabout car if I could justify one.  But the mpg seems disappointing frankly.


Mini Cooper and auto don't go together in my head. Is it a modern whip-crack paddle jobby or an old school giffer-spec fun-spoiler?


Old school, but it's actually not too bad.

Agree that the manual is the one to go for though. It's way better.
Frank Bullitt

Our friend last used her left leg in a car about 20 years ago - she has no interest in changing that any time soon.
Racing Teatray

When we got our 500, my wife enquired about the auto version, but the salesman told her it was terrible and she should avoid it! Hence we have a manual but she would have preferred an automatic.
Bob Sacamano

Racing Teatray wrote:
When we got our 500, my wife enquired about the auto version, but the salesman told her it was terrible and she should avoid it! Hence we have a manual but she would have preferred an automatic.


They said the same to us!
Frank Bullitt

It's not the best gearbox in the world but I wouldn't suggest it's a howler. I did suggest to our friend it might take a while to sell but there will be somebody who wants the auto and they will bite her hand off; sure enough it was the only one at that age/ price on autotrader, bought by somebody who paid the asking price and transferred the cash before seeing the car; she did not want to lose an auto and it was the only one she'd seen in 5 weeks of looking within 100 miles.
PR

While my car was being serviced last week I had a manual Cooper on 17s. The engine is utterly outstanding - smooth, snarly and capable of delivering a turn of speed that exceeds on-paper expectations and makes the car feel decently quick. I also enjoyed the drive far more than the rather leaden three-cylinder Cooper diesel courtesy car I had a few months ago - the petrol felt more agile and responsive. I guess the lighter nose and more energetic power plant are responsible for that. However, on a day of driving that included dual carriageways, twisty roads and town I only averaged 35mpg.

It's a shame the Cooper S has a tuneless four rather than a dialled up variant of the triple...

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