Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Car Tuesday: 2015 Mini Cooper S

We've done a few "new" car reviews over the years on DT and I've been struggling to find a regular feature for the Tuesday 10:30am PST spot...so welcome to New Car Tuesday.  The thing I don't want to do is just parrot the opinions of other folks around the web, so my promise is that any new car review will be based on an experience driving a new car.  These won't be press cars (ha!), so they will be cars driven at the dealer lot or from friends.  First up, is the 2015 Mini Cooper S hardtop starting at $24,100 available at your local Mini dealer.

The first thing you'll read on every car review of the third generation (2014+) Mini Cooper is that the car is bigger in every dimension, but that isn't important and 99% of buyers won't begrudge another 98mm in length.  What you do get is a budget driving experience from BMW's Mini division in a "cute" styled package.

Of course you'll want to ask how it drives, but first you've got to check out those instruments.  The giant analog speedometer and small peek-a-boo tach on the side, and mini info display are all very functional, but the strange after thought gas gauge (it has 8 amber lights that show fuel level) is totally out of place. 

Depress the clutch (wow, that is a long pedal throw) and hit the start button, and the 2.0 liter turbocharged direct injected inline-4 comes to life without fuss.  The shifter is easy and direct, but the pedal travel and clutch engagement point on my friends 2015 Cooper S was frustratingly awkward.  Perhaps after a few thousand miles it will get better, but in the meantime the first 3-4 inches of pedal travel felt like I was pushing some helper springs out of the way before finally engaging the clutch hydraulics near the cabin floor. 

Clutch awkwardness aside, the driving experience is really good.  The engine may only push 189 horsepower to the front wheels, but a 2700 lb curb weight (and properly short gearing of the 6-speed manual) means it feels like more.  The steering is light but communicative and while I didn't have a chance to take it to a race track and complain about understeer like any real automotive journalist, it felt sporty and fun on the street.  The playful attitude isn't just the wacky graphics packages available on the outside, but a combination of stiff ride, eager torque, and growling exhaust note turns into many smiles per mile.

Image credits: BMWgroup.  What other new car deserves a DT style review? Send your suggestions here: tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. Well done, El Jefe. What did you think of the turbo, any lag and your opinion of the sound of it?

    1. K2 - The turbo, like all of BMW's current boosted engines, (which is exactly 100% of BMW's product offering (ain't that a funny thought, 10 years ago there was not a single turbocharged (non-diesel) BMW available and today every single engine for sale in the US has at least one turbo)) it has almost zero lag (a hint at off idle rpms). It is thankfully free of the roarty intake noises that Japanese OEs seem to think makes 4-cylinder engines go fast and has a nice rumbly exhaust. All in all, it'll be a great car in about 10 years when it hits my price point...

    2. But oh so bloated. The other day I came upon a first gen parked right next to a current Mini in a Walgreens parking lot. The difference was...shall we say...not subtle. The ridiculous interior busyness notwithstanding, the older car rang the More Desirable Bell loudly for me.

    3. Sounds like the turbo is a really nice piece.

      The good Doctor and others have brought up what seems to be the crux of most folks' complaints regarding the new MINI. An oxymoron for sure but it begs the question; has the size increase been utilized well? According to the specs, rear leg room as actually decreased, while front leg room is essentially the same. Cargo room and front head room, on the other hand, has increased significantly. Were these things noticeable?

    4. Another rather random thought regarding the super-sizing of the MINI...it's interesting that it's now even closer to the C30, which obviously went nowhere, killed off in its prime after only 5 years on the showroom floor. I doubt the BMW-MINI will suffer the same fate and they'll sell plenty. But it's too bad, because the C30 was very, very good. I think the main problem with the C30 was, for people in the know (and there weren't that many of them, admittedly), the question arose; if you loved the C30, why not buy an S40, V50 or even, if you didn't mind losing that fantastic interior, a Focus or Mazda3?

      But if you were looking for a great little city car for a single person or a couple that could stretch its legs on the highway with comfort, the C30 was a heck of a car with no bulldog tailpipe-sniffing involved.


  2. Things I don't like:
    -Gauges that aren't integrated into the dash (I've broken a turn signal stalk while rapidly spinning the wheel trying to recover from a near spin. Yes I held it, got a "nice save" from a corner worker).
    -About half of the rest of the interior.
    -Awfully big for a small car, innit?

    Things I do like:
    -Still small, still handles well.

    Misc. thoughts:
    -How's the 3 cylinder model?
    -Why don't they expand the gauges, make it less cramped?

  3. "starting at $24,100"
    For future reviews we should also get the "as tested" price.
    With price creep we may be comparing the price point to a Mustang GT V8 instead of a Toyota Camry.

  4. @K2......agree with you on the C30.maybe you can get the DT crew to do a C30. I have an unnatural desire to own one. I noticed that the prices don't seem to be ..um...dropping. I'd like to know which model, specs of the C 30 would give you the most blast for the cash. As for the M"ani", waaa.....y to bloated. But gigantism in auto design seems to be the sine qua non of the modern auto design vocabulary. Makes the original new mini look even better imho

    1. I've been driving a C30 for 40k miles now. And a close friend has a Mini. The C30 is capable of everything the Cooper S (2008) can do, but it also is comfortable, solid, and can carry 4 actual people. The only thing the Mini does better is gas mileage, and now that the Mini has moved up to the 2.0 engine, those number will get closer too.

      Also...someone please tell me what the hell is going on with the tail lights on the new Mini. They are unbelievably huge and ugly. It's like they handed the plans to a kid and said, "Here kid, draw some tail lights on this."

    2. Hey needthatcar! How about you do a writeup for El Jefe with all of your thoughts? That would be awesome. It seems like there may be a few DTers interested in such a comparison because it's an option over the MINI. If you're not sure about how to go about that, let me know and I'll interview you to create the article. Thanks a lot!

      Woodie Man, you're right; it seems like the C30 isn't experiencing the typical Volvo depreciation for some reason. My go-to variant has always been the R-Design but some folks may prefer the others.

      Here are the 5-year TCO depreciation numbers and current rough Blue Book on the R-Design, for comparison;

      2013 Platinum = $15.2K (predicted) lost, worth ~$23.7K today
      2008 = $6.5K lost, worth ~$11K today...not sure how that calculates out...

      Very interesting. The differences are significant.

    3. Gotta disagree on the C30 based on personal experience. Compared to the MINI it's soft, squishy, overweight, with a huge steering wheel, lousy mileage and turbo lag. Not Sporty at all.

      To me, it drove like a Camry. I bought the MINI.

    4. @Anonymous: Hmmm.......did you have a R-Design? Whats with the mileage. did you have a 5 speed? Maybe YOU should write a piece for DT too! Nevertheless I have this unnatural desire to own one. When the market begins to drop. Firm rule: Dont buy a used car for more than 5-7K..........and that better be a BMW. NEVER buy a new car. Thats OPM.

  5. I will just leave this here:

    2016 MINI Clubman : The longest and widest MINI to date.


    1. MINI XXL... ;-D



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