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Neddytastic
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72 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all!

Anyone who's bored please read my mini MINI review below :cool:
Be kind to a first time poster :p

Bit of history: have always loved minis but lived in London for my adult life and never saw the point of having a car down there. Moved out to the country a year and a half ago and needed a car. Looked into getting a mini but eventually plumped for a 55 plate Mk 3 Clio (new shape) from a local garage. Lovely car - Dynamique SX with tinted windows, huge sunroof, shiny alloys. Not bad for a first car :D

The Clio was a great car for 2 drivers who hadn't driven for 10 years each - very forgiving, comfortable, lots of space for camping trips. However, she lacked ooomph on the hills, was too whiny on the motorways (needed a sixth gear!), and as I got to be a better more assured driver, I wanted something that was more fun. We go to Wales quite a lot, so I really wanted something that could overtake a bit easier as well on those A roads.

So, 2 weeks ago, idly flicking through Modern MINI in WH Smiths, the old love of MINIs came flooding back, and a rather "they saw us coming" visit to the local MINI dealership ended up with us agreeing to buy an 07 plate Cooper on PCP. It was the test drive that did it. Our poor Clio felt so "spongey" after driving a MINI and so lacking Vrrrrrroooom, I found it a very easy decision to sign up for a MINI!

So, 10 days or so into owning the MINI I've got the following points to make. Apologies if I compare to the Clio too much: I'm aware that other prospective MINI owners may read this post so I'd like to give an honest opinion ...

Driving

Absolutely brilliant. I'm still cautious about chucking Neddy into corners too quickly as the Clio would bodyroll a lot more (one of the reasons we went for her first... deliberately getting a car that I wouldn't drive like a boy racer!) but the grip and handling are superb. I love the extra power Neddy has got compared to the Clio. I've done some overtakes in the last 10 days that I could never have in the Clio - all very safe; drop downs to 3rd and then away! Even in a normal Cooper the power feels good because it's all communicated to the driver in a fun, go kart way.

My wife changes gear a lot lower down the rev counter than I do and it's a lot more noticeable in the MINI. I found in the first few journeys in the MINI that the engine told you in was struggling - being under 2K in 2nd/3rd for example - which was sorted by a drop down the gear. In the Clio we'd only ever drop to 1st when stopped (otherwise it'd kangaroo), but in the MINI it seems that the gearing is a lot more smooth.

Comfort wise, the Clio wins out because of the harder suspension and I guess the run flat tyres. We've got a few country lanes that we use everyday and the passenger really feels the potholes in Neddy compared to the Clio. However, that's offset by the lack of bodyroll and higher grip meaning the MINI feels a lot better when cornering.

However, the Chili pack seats we've got feel a lot more comfortable than the Clio. I like having lumbar support at last.

Interior and other stuff

I'm getting used to the MINI interior, but some of the design decisions baffle me. I hate the plasticky feel of the audio twiddle knobs - I wonder why there isn't any resistance in them, they feel so cheap.

The beam in the Clio was always a problem - if you brought your left hand up turning the wheel at the same time as de-beaming, you could inadvertently twist the lights to off. Not good when driving down a country lane! It took about 6 months as well before we stopped indicating changing the beam in the Clio. I much prefer the MINI way of doing it.

I also find there's a real lack of visual information in the MINI - e.g. no indication that the lights are on when on non-beam, no volume indicator on the radio?
The heater controls seem to require more of a look down then the Clio, but I'm hopeful that's just because I can't work it out blindly yet.

Saying that, the heater and fan (manual AC) is far superior to the Clio's. No more steamy windows for us!

I've also got past my first week of swearing at the indicators. I'd invariably go left-right-left-arrrggghhhhhhhhh when trying to cancel a signal, but I've learned that the best way to cancel is to press again in the direction indicating rather than cancel by pushing the opposite way.

Space wise, there's a lot less space in the cabin, but it all feels a lot sportier (rooster red seats!). I certainly enjoy driving Neddy - I do look forward to it each day - whereas the Clio (although sporty looking) felt more like a "normal" car. There's only the 2 of us anyway, so we're happy to put the back seats down - we had to anyway for camping trips in the Clio. Shopping goes on the back seat on the supermarket run. The space saved around the car is a bonus - parking in the garage at home in the Clio meant pulling in the wing mirrors but the MINI fits in a lot better.

Finally...

We've got a couple of niggles with Neddy - he's going back to the dealers on the 3rd Dec to get his handbrake tightened and a couple of very annoying rattles looked at (centre front dashboard and the glovebox). He needs new wipers as well.

Saying all that, I'm very glad we ended up going to "just have a look at the MINIs" that day - even if we've ended up spending a load of money to replace something that was working fine anyway! The drive, extra power and general FUN of the MINI make the money spent seem less of a waste to us... and even though we have fond memories of the Clio each day that goes past makes me miss it less.

When our MINI gets his "go faster stripes" :D and extra lamps on the front he'll look even more like the car I've always wanted. I love the look of the MINI (I prefer the more muscular front of the R56 myself) and would heartily recommend anyone to take a test drive in one and see what they think.

Cheers!
James
 

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95 Posts
Wow Jim, I couldn't write that much about my MCS and I've had it for 4 years + :wink:

Well done:smile:

Glad your enjoying your Mini , still love mine .

Have fun and welcome:D
 

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Congratulations on you attaining MINI ownership!

Is it a bit telling that your MINI already has a name, but you only ever referred to your previous car as the Clio?
 

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Neddytastic
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72 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nah, she was named the first week too (Clara). Didn't want to sound tooooo loopy on my first post!

We're definitely in the "name your car" bracket. I can't understand people who don't - probably just as they don't understand people who do!
 

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I'm Back!
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2,590 Posts
Great write up and Neddy's a great name for a MINI.
Happy MINI Adventures!
 

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clubMINI Master
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992 Posts
Yes Pictures........glad you're loving the MINI.....have to admit with my first MINI.....I went to have a "look"....ended up falling in love on the spot and put down the deposit......shame I only had "lil blacky" a year........but she certainly eased me into a life of MINI ownership......it is very hard to go back to the "Norm" once you've had a MINI!
 

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I'm 25 and have had 19 cars up to now but my Cooper D is my joint favourite with my MG ZS180... that car is FAR from a tarted up Rover as most people think.

I love the way the MINI handles... it feels like each wheel is somehow attached to you so you know what it's going to do.

There's only one way to overcome a lack of confidence in the corners... go for it. I still haven't managed to unsettle it in the year I've had it.
 

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227 Posts
Welcome to MINI2. Great write up, cool name Neddy! Such good little cars that they deserve write-ups more often.

I'm the same, only went up to look and ended up Buying. Never looked back, love my MJ...:D

Don't forget to post up some pics !! :p
 
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