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Old 01-22-2012, 08:52 PM   #1
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Mini Cooper S Feedback

I'm thinking of buying a used 2002 Mini Cooper S (R53), manual 6-spd, with the John Cooper Works engine upgrade (200hp) and JCW suspension (factory installed). 70K miles.

Interested in hearing about Mini ownership experiences. Thanks.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:54 AM   #2
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Just bought one for the wife. She never drives so not a lot of experience here, so far my impressions - ours is a 2008 S, newer look and feel. Just about as hard of a ride, no where near the cornering grip or the engine feel on acceleration. It reminds me of a suped up 4 cylinder, I know it is one, just doesn't give the feeling that it has anything left. Braking is half, room and seating are not even comparable in the two. Mini you sit up higher and seem to have more legroom but it feels more like a sedan then a sports car.

Overall nothing wrong with it, she likes the mini better but not my pick. Also the look outside when you drive by!!!!
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:08 AM   #3
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I had a 2008 Mini Cooper S as a daily driver for approximately 2 years, and I very much enjoyed it . A word of caution, however, the Mini (especially the S model) is designed to be a "driver's" car, and it's not simply the little around town vehicle that most people think it is . Because of it's stiff, performance oriented suspension, it can give off somewhat of a buckboard ride quality; especially on rough surface roads . And, it's overall driving manner is very lively and spirited . It just loves to "dart" . While I enjoy these characteristics in a vehicle, other owner's whom I knew, complained over time that the vehicle felt too "defined" and all "business" to them as a daily driver .

On a positive note, the vehicle's fit and finish and attention to detail was absolutely first rate. And in my opinion, the quality and feel of it's construction, rivaled vehicle's costing two or three times it's price . In the final analysis, the Mini was just a blast to drive, and I really liked the sense of "individuality" it's persona gave off . Oh, and it got 30+ mpg no matter what I was doing . Recommended !
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. I'm driving a few other Cooper S models today (without the JCW upgrades so stock S suspension with 163hp instead of 200hp). Then, I'll decide.

Car will be used mostly around LA for my 17-yr old son to drive but we all rotate through the cars fairly often. We use the X5 or the 325i for long road trips so the Mini might go to San Diego or Santa Barbara (2hrs freeway driving) but that's about the extent of freeway driving it will see.
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:33 PM   #5
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I had a 2003 MCS, and my dad still has (and loves!) his 2005 MCS.

For me, I think it would be a lousy car for LA. Regardless of which suspension option you have, the short wheelbase will kill you over the expansion joints and crumbly freeways. You may get a better ride with 16" wheels vs 17". I also found it very much prone to rattles. That being said, when driven like a sports car or on twisty roads it is tons of fun!

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Old 01-24-2012, 04:57 PM   #6
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just noticed a major recall on all mini s.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:10 PM   #7
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Thanks for all of the add'l feedback. I went ahead and pulled the trigger this afternoon on the 2002 Cooper S with the JCW engine and suspension upgrades. Got a really great deal. This model isn't affected by the recent recall.

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Old 01-25-2012, 04:12 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the add'l feedback. I went ahead and pulled the trigger this afternoon on the 2002 Cooper S with the JCW engine and suspension upgrades. Got a really great deal. This model isn't affected by the recent recall.

I bet my participation in this thread subconsciously influenced you to get a yellow one .
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:10 PM   #9
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Proud to be rockin' the Danger Yellow!
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:51 PM   #10
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Proud to be rockin' the Danger Yellow!
I'm seriously considering ordering a new Mini now !
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:04 PM   #11
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Good looking car. Congratulations.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:42 PM   #12
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Drove the car around LA the past two days. Overall, very fun to drive with good power and quick handling that has very little body roll in corners. The ride is a bit jumpy due to the short wheelbase and the freeway expansion joints can occasionally be a little hard but its not bothersome and by the second day I never even noticed it. The clutch and 6-spd trans are smooth and silky as butter.

With comparable power and weight to a Boxster, is it faster or better handling? No. The Boxster's normally aspirated power delivery is more linear and the flat-6 likes to rev better than the JCW supercharged four and (as expected) the FWD Mini ultimately has terminal understeer (even with the JCW suspension) as compared to the almost perfect balance of the Boxster.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:52 PM   #13
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I went from Boxster to Mini and now back in a Boxster
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:51 AM   #14
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Width suspension mods, you can eliminate the MCS's inherent understeer. And you can smooth the ride a bit with Koni FSD.
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:49 AM   #15
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Width suspension mods, you can eliminate the MCS's inherent understeer. And you can smooth the ride a bit with Koni FSD.
Can you give me some suspension mod suggestions to help with the understeer? The car already has the full JCW suspension upgrade.

And to be fair, the first place to start might be the tires, the car currently has a set of nice Toyo Proxes4 all-season tires but they really aren't meant to get the most out of the car in the corners.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:17 AM   #16
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Can you give me some suspension mod suggestions to help with the understeer? The car already has the full JCW suspension upgrade.

And to be fair, the first place to start might be the tires, the car currently has a set of nice Toyo Proxes4 all-season tires but they really aren't meant to get the most out of the car in the corners.
Try an adjustable rear sway bar.

http://www.perrinperformance.com/p/43

My mother-in-law has the clubman S. Is got a little longer wheelbase and rides a little smoother. Still a little car. It's pretty fun to drive and the interior is a really nice place to be. I'm 6'1" and fit in the back seats.

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Old 01-28-2012, 08:17 AM   #17
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There is a guy dropping the vag 20v turbo into Minis!

I ran Cross coilovers and 215/45/17 888s
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:45 PM   #18
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There is a guy dropping the vag 20v turbo into Minis!

I ran Cross coilovers and 215/45/17 888s
Are you from Worcester, Mass. ?
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:31 PM   #19
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:52 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Can you give me some suspension mod suggestions to help with the understeer? The car already has the full JCW suspension upgrade.

And to be fair, the first place to start might be the tires, the car currently has a set of nice Toyo Proxes4 all-season tires but they really aren't meant to get the most out of the car in the corners.
Tires certainly matter, but for a FWD car a way to improve the handling is through a larger and/or stiffer rear sway bar. Not sure if the JCW package has one already, but if it does you'll want to find out if the rear bar is solid or hollow. A hollow sway bar has to be significantly larger in overall diameter in order to match the torsional stiffness of a smaller diameter bar that is solid. Hollow bars are usually used to save on weight, but the compromise tends to be some stiffness loss to keep from having to make it huge and essentially negate the weight savings.

It's pretty safe to assume that a JCW package for the car likely already has some sway bars added front and rear, but it doesn't mean one could not still improve here. Seeing as the Cooper is already incredibly lightweight and not short on power, it wouldn't hurt to add a larger diameter solid rear sway bar than what may or may not already be there, if there is one available.

I found some options available on THMotorsports' website. You may want to have a look around to see what's available. 19mm seems to be the most common size available for the rear and in the $200-250 range, and I am assuming they're solid because a hollow one that size would basically be worthless. Some are adjustable.

This should significantly improve the handling, make the car more neutral, and actually can increase its ability to oversteer rather than push.
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