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Respek.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How does the Mini do in the snow? I was surprised to not find much about its snow characteristics from a search. I know all FWD cars can manage to get through snow safely, at least, but how does the Mini compare to other specific cars you've driven?

Have you gotten stuck? Have you blown carelessly past everyone else when they were stuck?

I have been between a JCW MCS and a WRX STi for a couple months and am now almost certain I would enjoy the Mini more but the snow factor remains a major concern as I'll most likely be moving the Salt Lake City area in January where they get 60'' a year. I'm moving there specifically for that snow and will need to be able to get up into the mountains to ride especially when/after it storms so this is no small consideration. Thanks.
 

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6X therapist
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Mikael said:
How does the Mini do in the snow? I was surprised to not find much about its snow characteristics from a search. I know all FWD cars can manage to get through snow safely, at least, but how does the Mini compare to other specific cars you've driven?

Have you gotten stuck? Have you blown carelessly past everyone else when they were stuck?

I have been between a JCW MCS and a WRX STi for a couple months and am now almost certain I would enjoy the Mini more but the snow factor remains a major concern as I'll most likely be moving the Salt Lake City area in January where they get 60'' a year. I'm moving there specifically for that snow and will need to be able to get up into the mountains to ride especially when/after it storms so this is no small consideration. Thanks.
Hmmm, difficult question, I'd say snow and ice are no problem providing you have the right rubber, all season runflats as fitted in euroland are pretty awful in ice and snow, a good set of winter or snow tires on a MINI will get you just about anywhere if the roads are passable. Driving the car in slippery conditions is great fun, very predictable, and you can do things in a MINI that other FWD cars would'nt even look at.:) The WRX has 4wd and is effectively a rally car, but its like a tractor to drive.
 

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Just because a car has 4WD doesn't mean that it can tackle ice and snow like a dedicated off-roader. The type of tyres are much more important and with a good set of winter tyres on a MINI can get to most places a WRX can. Besides, I seem to remember a certain Mr. Paddy Hopkirk doing alright in the snow with a classic mini and winter tyres to win the Monte Carlo Rally.
 

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I've already had some experience driving my Cooper in the snow and ice this year. Felt very safe and sure-footed :D Had some fun doing some deliberate slides and things too :)

The standard winter tyres BMW/MINI supply here in Sweden are S+M (slush and mud?) rather than studded. These are perfect for highways and most paved roads but you may want the studded ones for the mountains or where the snow-ploughs haven't been ;)
 

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Of course it is...
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I'm bought an '05 MCS in October and I live in Maine (in a very hilly area). My previous car was an 99 Audi A4 2.8 w/Quattro. So far we've had 2 snow storms that I've driven in (both with serious icing issues). Honestly, the MCS feels just as solid in the snow/ice as the Audi did. I've had a couple of Golfs as well, and they were much worse in the snow than the MCS.

As someone else posted, I got rid of the all-season run flats and have full snows (w/out studs - Bridgestone Blizzaks), and I have DSC. I suspect the only issue I may have during the winter would be under carriage clearance if the snow really dumped...but even the Audi had issues in that situation.

I pretty much ski every weekend which entails either a 1 hour or 2.5 hour drive each way. Considering how good the MINI has been in the icy conditions we've had, I wouldn't hesitate to head out in a storm and go to the mountains.
 

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RenaultF1 said:
I pretty much ski every weekend which entails either a 1 hour or 2.5 hour drive each way.
Yikes, 2.5 hours each way? Sounds like someone else needs to come to Utah! :)

Mikael, let me give you an advance welcome. Sounds like you're either a serious skier or snowboarder, and as either you will love it here (I live in Ogden). You'll be within an hour of ten or so great resorts, and depending where you live in Salt Lake you'll probably be within 15 minutes of several of them (of course you probably already know all of this by now). Welcome to paradise!

I had the same worries about snow and the Mini, but all the research I've done so far tells me the Mini will be a fine snow car (haven't ordered mine yet). My only worry now is where to put the snowboard (I'm getting the convertible). Perhaps I'll be taking my wife's Pilot when I want to hit the slopes; not for traction, but for storage space.

Wonder if they'll be coming out with a snowboard/ski attachment for the sport link rear bumper rack.
 

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Sitting on a park bench..
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Surprised you couldn't find much info, I used this board and NAM for my research...I have an '04 JCW MCS and switched from the 17" S-slites w/ Dunlop perf tires to 15" Nokian Hakkepelittas (put 'em on MINI R81 15" alloys). All the advice I saw said you would want a smaller tire to accommodate snow buildup in the wheelwell; a narrower tire is preferred to "cut" thru the deep snow.

The only "issue" is w/ the MINI's low ground clearance. If the snow is a good 7" or more, unplowed, the MINI can become its own "plow" and find the going difficult.

There are tire chains approved for the MINI which you may want to investigate as well.

Many have purchased the Tire Rack 15" steelies / Bridgestone packages. I did see a week or so ago that they were backordered, this may have been cleared up.

First experience this week here in the Boston area w/ some slick roads, etc., and they handled flawlessly.
 

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brown is back
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The only snow / ice related issue I have experienced is a lack of grip to get moving on an ice covered hill, even using dedicated snow tires. This was on a day with so little traction, the DSC stalled the engine trying to slow the tires down to find some grip. My friend with a Subaru and all-season tires made it up the hill just fine.

If you have to deal with dirt roads and hills, you'll need studded tires.

For driving in sane to marginal conditions, a MINI with snow tires works fine. In less than marginal conditions, stay home.

I've also read that you can high-side a MINI if the right amount of unplowed snow is present. I've had snow billowing over the hood / bonnet once... I've read that once that happes, if you stop, you're not going to get moving again. But, that takes over a foot of unplowed snow.

The MINI is capable in the snow. The biggest variable is the driver.
 

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Respek.
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dsc

That's good to hear a comparison to an A4 Quattro. That was my dad's last car and it was great in the snow. He has a 330xi now that is even better. Does the Mini's DSC really go to work in the snow? Obviously the systems cannot be the same as the 330xi is AWD (though the indicator lights are of the same little icon) but in the BMW, the DSC (if that's what they call it) goes crazy to keep you safe. Floored in a snowy/icy parking lot, rather than spinning or anything fun, the DSC in the BMW detects so much slippage it just refuses to move the car at all and it creeps forward at about 2 mph. It's almost too much interference from the car - I mean one wants its assistance but if I have it floored, obviously, I'm ready for a bit more than a crawl. Of course, to play, you can just flip it off.

In normal snow driving, though, the 330xi's traction control systems shines. You can tell the car is hard at work speeding up and slowing down wheels but the result is an amazing surefootedness. I know you can't accomplish the same with FWD but does the Mini work so actively in the snow to achieve traction?
 

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Mikael said:
That's good to hear a comparison to an A4 Quattro. That was my dad's last car and it was great in the snow. He has a 330xi now that is even better. Does the Mini's DSC really go to work in the snow? Obviously the systems cannot be the same as the 330xi is AWD (though the indicator lights are of the same little icon) but in the BMW, the DSC (if that's what they call it) goes crazy to keep you safe. Floored in a snowy/icy parking lot, rather than spinning or anything fun, the DSC in the BMW detects so much slippage it just refuses to move the car at all and it creeps forward at about 2 mph. It's almost too much interference from the car - I mean one wants its assistance but if I have it floored, obviously, I'm ready for a bit more than a crawl. Of course, to play, you can just flip it off.

In normal snow driving, though, the 330xi's traction control systems shines. You can tell the car is hard at work speeding up and slowing down wheels but the result is an amazing surefootedness. I know you can't accomplish the same with FWD but does the Mini work so actively in the snow to achieve traction?
This is pretty identical w/ regards to the MINI's DSC...most turn it off to get started on real slippery surfaces and turn it back on once they've gotten going....I haven't had that situation (yet) so I can't comment on this.
 

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Of course it is...
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Mikael said:
That's good to hear a comparison to an A4 Quattro. That was my dad's last car and it was great in the snow. He has a 330xi now that is even better. Does the Mini's DSC really go to work in the snow? Obviously the systems cannot be the same as the 330xi is AWD (though the indicator lights are of the same little icon) but in the BMW, the DSC (if that's what they call it) goes crazy to keep you safe. Floored in a snowy/icy parking lot, rather than spinning or anything fun, the DSC in the BMW detects so much slippage it just refuses to move the car at all and it creeps forward at about 2 mph. It's almost too much interference from the car - I mean one wants its assistance but if I have it floored, obviously, I'm ready for a bit more than a crawl. Of course, to play, you can just flip it off.

In normal snow driving, though, the 330xi's traction control systems shines. You can tell the car is hard at work speeding up and slowing down wheels but the result is an amazing surefootedness. I know you can't accomplish the same with FWD but does the Mini work so actively in the snow to achieve traction?
My understanding is that the DSC systems are pretty much the same...however, I don't know what the addition of AWD would do to it. I don't have enough experience with DSC yet, so I defer to others that do. That said, I am impressed with the MINI having come from the Audi's excellence in the snow (oh, and I had full on snow tires on the Audi as well). I've anxiously been awaiting a snow covered parking lot that I could play around in and it looks like I may get the opportunity this weekend as more snow is on the way.
:)
 

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snid said:
The MINI is capable in the snow. The biggest variable is the driver.
I have to agree here. Dedicated snow tires make a world of difference.

Currently I run the stock MCS 16" V-lite w/run-flats in the summer and the narrower MC 15" 7-hole w/Conti all seasons in the winter. This is a reasonable solution, but as soon as the all seasons are toast they will be replaced with dedicated snows, w/studs.

There is no comparison between an AWD with good tires and a competant driver and a FWD under the same conditions.

My wife drives an Audi A4 Quattro so I have had experience with both. Previously we had a Subaru Impreza AWD and found there is no comparison between AWD , FWD, or RWD. As with any limited traction situation, Laws of Physics apply reguardless of the number of driven wheels.

Actually with AWD you might not realize that the traction is poor because you will have no trouble getting going, it is just when you try to stop or turn that you find that you can not. :D
 

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There's gobs of information on driving a MINI in the snow. Its just difficult to search for. If you don't want to wade through all the stuff you'd find with winter or snow, try something simple like blizzak. Don't forget to check the stickied thread in wheels + tires, as well as the FAQ.

In any case, everything everyone has said is pretty accurate - but I'd be wary about UT. I live in Rochester NY which got about 60" of snow, but it was generally in small amounts, so you never ran into travel problems. If you expect really bad snow, but still want to go skiing, you'll have issues.
 

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Mini in Maine
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It's as much about how you drive...

Mikael said:
How does the Mini do in the snow? I was surprised to not find much about its snow characteristics from a search. I know all FWD cars can manage to get through snow safely, at least, but how does the Mini compare to other specific cars you've driven?

Have you gotten stuck? Have you blown carelessly past everyone else when they were stuck?

I have been between a JCW MCS and a WRX STi for a couple months and am now almost certain I would enjoy the Mini more but the snow factor remains a major concern as I'll most likely be moving the Salt Lake City area in January where they get 60'' a year. I'm moving there specifically for that snow and will need to be able to get up into the mountains to ride especially when/after it storms so this is no small consideration. Thanks.
as what you drive. I've been driving in Maine winters since '70 and not once gone off the road or out of control. I've done that in front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, 4 wheel drive(Explorer, Jeep and Bronco), pickup trucks and '65 Volvo 544 Sports. Not one problem. If you drive properly it rarely is a problem. There isn't a car/truck/suv made that'll drive on snow like there isn't any snow and seen the moron's from down south with their all wheel/4 wheel autos in more ditches than you can count. As for the Mini I'll let you know soon as it's getting close to winter here and we just had our first snow storm and first ice storm. I'm sure it'll be just fine though.
 

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MINI2 Regular
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There's some fairly extensive info available on the Canadian Mini site www.mini.ca that includes several videos and Mini's take on how capable the cars are in winter conditions. My MC doesn't arrive until February, so can't comment directly.
 

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MotorCityMadman
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fred3 said:
as what you drive. I've been driving in Maine winters since '70 and not once gone off the road or out of control. I've done that in front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, 4 wheel drive(Explorer, Jeep and Bronco), pickup trucks and '65 Volvo 544 Sports. Not one problem. If you drive properly it rarely is a problem. There isn't a car/truck/suv made that'll drive on snow like there isn't any snow and seen the moron's from down south with their all wheel/4 wheel autos in more ditches than you can count. As for the Mini I'll let you know soon as it's getting close to winter here and we just had our first snow storm and first ice storm. I'm sure it'll be just fine though.
Exactly. It's more about the driver's technique than the vehicle driven. (love the quip about the Southern drivers up north...hahaha. I remember a few years back when public schools in Atlanta closed because they got a quarter-inch of snow... :rolleyes: )
 

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one complaint I have about the Mini in snow is that the few times last year that I tried to make 360's in a nice empty sow covered parking lot, it was difficult..I guess it was the DSC kicking in, but the car didn't seem to want to lose control.....not too bad a complaint obviously

was thinknig tho of getting some snows tires for an extra measure of safety...currently have the stock 15" narrow all seasons, which I chose specifically because narrow tires are better in snow, but does anyone out there have any feelimgs if the same size, 15" narrows, as a snow tire, would noticable outperforform all seasons in snow?
 

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MotorCityMadman
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umberto said:
one complaint I have about the Mini in snow is that the few times last year that I tried to make 360's in a nice empty sow covered parking lot, it was difficult..I guess it was the DSC kicking in, but the car didn't seem to want to lose control...

You weren't going fast enough.... :D
 

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Just to add, re: tire chains -- typically they're mandatory in those areas out west in the mtns (Colorado, California, etc) so you'll definately have to investigate. It's quite interesting to get them on the rental cars and get instruction on how to install / use them.
 
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