MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - lucklesspedestrian

Hi

The wife quite fancies a Mini as her daily runabout. It would in a way be nice to come full circle after her 1976 shinola brown 850 original Mini that she had when we first met (used to hearing the water sloshing down from the back of the car to the front footwell when we went downhill in the rain!)

We could afford a MK 2 probably 2011 vintage and fancied a Cooper with the 122bhp 1.6 petrol engine. Now, I know that the more powerful 1.6 THP engine in the Cooper S is a 'no no' having received sound advice on here once when I was thinking about buying a suspiciously cheap Pug 508 with the same lump. I've read about all the cam chain problems and the 'death rattle'.

I was wondering though if the 122bhp engine had an equally bad reputation or is it basically okay if its had regular oil changes?

Thanks again in advance

Edited by lucklesspedestrian on 28/06/2017 at 21:57

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - badbusdriver

Full circle?.

The original mini was designed by a (flawed) genius with the sole purpose of packing as much interior space as possible within a 10' length.

The BMW version was and is a money grabbing exercise, exploiting both the nostalgia for the original and the gap in the market for a car which could double as a fashion accessory. It isn't small and it isn't well packaged.

If you really want to 'come a full circle', get a Toyota iq, the only car which can compare with the original mini with regards to its design brief and sole purpose.

Of course you could, and probably should, just ignore me!

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - lucklesspedestrian

All good and well but it's the missus who wants one and who I would have to try to sell that arguement to.

I can just imagine the look on her face when I pointed out an iq and suggested "how's about one of these instead of a Mini my sweet?....... far more faithful to the original Issigonis design brief"

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - SLO76
If funds can be stretched I'd go for a later 3cyl 1.5 Turbo. It's a belter of an engine, loads of go, nice offbeat 3cyl thrum, great on fuel and no reliability issues to date - though it's early days and BMW and Mini don't bask in glory regarding longterm reliability. These are great fun to drive and the lighter 3cyl engine only helps this further. I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/20170529590...6
MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - SLO76
"If you really want to 'come a full circle', get a Toyota iq, the only car which can compare with the original mini with regards to its design brief and sole purpose."

Interesting subject. What car fits the origional Minis cheap car of the people's brief today? I like the iq, it was a well made, well packaged little car but was over complex and over priced so didn't sell well.

The Aygo/107/108/C1 is a closer fit in my mind. Will take 4 adults (just) it's cheap to buy, cheap to run, fun to drive and sells in huge numbers as it appeals to old and young alike.

The origional Mk I Ka also fulfilled the role well too, in fact driver appeal was as close to the classic Mini as anything has ever came. Can be bought for a few hundred quid now, cheap for parts, again can fit 4 adults and rots every bit as badly as the mini.
MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - badbusdriver
"If you really want to 'come a full circle', get a Toyota iq, the only car which can compare with the original mini with regards to its design brief and sole purpose." Interesting subject. What car fits the origional Minis cheap car of the people's brief today? I like the iq, it was a well made, well packaged little car but was over complex and over priced so didn't sell well. The Aygo/107/108/C1 is a closer fit in my mind. Will take 4 adults (just) it's cheap to buy, cheap to run, fun to drive and sells in huge numbers as it appeals to old and young alike. The origional Mk I Ka also fulfilled the role well too, in fact driver appeal was as close to the classic Mini as anything has ever came. Can be bought for a few hundred quid now, cheap for parts, again can fit 4 adults and rots every bit as badly as the mini.

I remember reading that no money was ever made on the original mini, due to its complex design, so in that respect the iq is also more like it. I see your point with the aygo/C1/108, but they didn't really move the game on apart from the fact that they were made in such a way that repairs after low speed accidents would be cheaper to fix to to the way the bodywork was designed.

Enormous fun to drive though, like the mini (and mk1 ka). We got a loan of a C1(1.0)recently when our car was getting some repair work done and it was just as I remembered. Absolutely bursting with enthusiasm and fizz, like a Jack Russell straining on the lead!.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - SLO76
Good point. The origional mini was thought of as overcomplex by other manufacturers in its day and too costly to produce. It did make a profit in its later years as it was priced as a retro toy rather than a real city car. I suppose the iq is closer than I first thought.
MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - elekie&a/c doctor

Nice car,shame about the engine.These don't need regular oil changes as they usually consume so much oil a change is not required. Most of these have chain/tensioner/cam variator issues.You would be lucky to find one that hasn't.You may be better off finding one of the last models with the Chrysler engines.(up to around 2005)..Also I would drive one before you buy..Great handling at the expense of a hard ride.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - bazza

To add my thoughts, having owned a string of originals: The BMW Mini is very inefficient in terms of space, the back seats are a joke and barely useable. It's good to drive, but fit and finish are poor, dreadful for a BMW. The run-flat tyres are very expensive. Three friends have had gearbox failure. The brand is so dilute now it's become embarrassing.

My left field choice would be a Fiat Panda, with the 1.1 or 1.2 FIRE engine, this ancient engine is a work of art! Revvy, smooth and cheap as chips to run. We have one in the family and every time I drive it I feel like I'm 21again. The high mouted gear change is like a knife through butter and the whole car shouts FUN! Minimalist dash, great packaging, seats 4, great to drive, 50 mpg. It's not fast, but feels it, and keeps up with the flow, even on motorways. Noisy though! And it runs out of grip quite quickly on its skinny tyres, but that just adds to the fun.

Also consider a Suzuki Swift Sport, minimalist hatch, quick and simple, genuine nicely tuned 1.6 with no turbos or lag to worry about. Far better car than a Mini.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - SLO76
"My left field choice would be a Fiat Panda, with the 1.1 or 1.2 FIRE engine, this ancient engine is a work of art! Revvy, smooth and cheap as chips to run. We have one in the family and every time I drive it I feel like I'm 21again. "

I often recommend these. A simple but brilliant little box on wheels. Cheap, solid, fun to drive and easy to maintain. I'll choose a Panda hire car whenever one's available on holiday. The 1.2 petrol has been around in one form or another since the 80's and is generally pretty robust but the diesel is trouble and the twin air is known to be trouble too. Fun to drive flat out on the road because its limits are easily reached. Good call on the Swift Sport too.
MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - Miniman777

Having had 3 Mini's in the family, here's my view FWIW. Cars 1 &3 wifes, low mileage driver, car 2 mine, anything but low mileage and slow!

Car 1 - R56 Cooper 1.6, Dec 2006, FBMWSH, bought with 18K, sold 4 years on with 44k. Regualr old changes, no timing chain death rattle on start up. Had 2 tyres, rear pads and discs (BMW specialist fitted) and new front pads. Faultless reliability, sad to see it go. Bought from Mini specialst in Norfolk, standard aftermarket warranty.

Replaced by Car 3, an R56 2012 Cooper S Cabriolet, high spec, BMWSH. Bought from Rybrook nearly 2 years ago on 14k miles, today done 24k, faultless mechanicaly, one service under service plan. Only other issue has been the self-levelling gizmo at the front (for the xenon headlight adjustment) failed. Replaced, by local Mini dealer. Cant fault it. Ride is firm on 205/45X17 runflats, but reduce tyre pressures 3-4psi and it improves.

Car 2 - R56 Cooper S saloon (58 plate). Again, full BMWSH, bought from Benham's Wolverhampton, 51K miles in 2014, well speced. Six weeks in the Mini enjoyment, piston broke after 1,800 miles. Taken to Sytner, diagnosed, engine strip, new short engine under Mini warranty at no cost to me. Sytner also reported engine badly coked up (prev owner short journeys?) and they sorted this too at no cost. Also fitted with new thermostat and new water pump, but thermostat began leaking 6 months on from new engine. Fixed under Mini warranty, but took 2+ weeks as part was in short supply/back order and dealer was pressurised to resolve. Did have a hire car Mini was paying for. Car sold to work colleague, still running today, but had a couple of electrical gremlins.

So it's variable on reliability, but it's a car a like, the performance versions are great fun to drive - and fast, but I'd only buy again with the full Mini service history and a Mini 12-month warranty.

The R56 series 1.6 engines in the Cooper S are the same as in the performance DS3s, and some Pug RCZs and prone to same timing chain and coking issues.

Suzuki Swift sport nippy, but hey, doesnt have the charisma of a Mini, does it?

Thing is there's plenty of Mini's around, specs vary widely so you can be picky, but I'd suggest air con and part leather upholstry, reverse park sensors as a minimum and 16in wheels if a Cooper. Pan roof is nice, xenon headlights make a hell of a difference too. Also check if it's an 'S' that the recall has been done to the turbocharger (aux water pump cools after switch off) - recall was for 'smouldering' then car in flames!! See HJ car by car, but lots of niggly faults can occur.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - Manatee

The "coking up" is clearly the least of this engine's problems, but it does seem to be associated with direct injection. The coke or varnish-like deposits under the valve heads and in the ports presumably originate from oil on the valve stems which, in a port-injection engine would be dissolved away by the fuel. With GDI the fuel doesn't touch the inlet tract so the oil deposits can accumulate and burn on.

Presumably using 'better' fuel such as V-power will make no material difference. How can it be minimised or avoided if an engine design is prone to it? Is oil type and/or the frequency of oil changes a factor? Does it in fact increase if journeys are predominantly short, with lots of cold running? It's not obvious why it should.

Digression, sorry. But I'd be interested to know.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - pd

I like the Panda as well - good fun drive. However, not everyone likes the looks but the 500 is basically the same car with a cuter body which might be worth considering.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - lucklesspedestrian

Thanks for all the really useful replies.

Looks like the consensus is that the chain cam 1.6 petrol engines on the Minis do have known issues but equally a lot of them are driving around out there with no problems. I know the 1.5 3 cylinder jobbie on the latest Mini is a better unit but that seems to be showing up now with crankshaft bearing problems. I suppose almost all engines (apart from the Honda VTEC units?) have their potential problems.

Also, the new BMW Minis don't bear much relation to the originals (I knew that) amd other cars are either better value and more space efficient or smaller and truer to the original Mini experience.

Equally, if I bought the wife a Fiat Panda or an iq instead of the Mini I know I would get a reaction similar to that time I bought her a new lawnmower for Xmas but magnified by an order of 10 (not good, trust me)

Oh well, lots of thinking and ploughing through Autotrader still to do in search of the 'perfect car' (which I know doesn't exist!)

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - badbusdriver

If, as you have hinted at, this car is to be a christmas present, it is going to be very tricky to get anything other than the mini she wants. But ignoring my earlier posts regarding what would be the perfect 'spiritual' successor to the original mini, someone else mentioned the suzuki swift sport. This is probably about the best car which competes with the BMW mini. It has very similar proportions (squat), is fast enough for most, it is very reliable (as are most suzuki's), vey well regarded by the motoring press, and is rated vey highly by owners. Also, it is almost certainly going to be cheaper year for year than the BMW mini. So have a look on autotrader, and if you like what you see, maybe you could 'casually' point out one or two when you are out and about to guage her reaction?.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - pd

Slightly off-topic but the recurring basic design issues on engines in the last few years really is quite incredible. We are, frankly, at the tail end of the age of the internal combustion engine yet very major maunfacturers can't seem to get basic things like timing chains, piston rings, pumps and valves right.

Modern engines should do 200k if serviced within guidelines without major failures - some can and do - yet the number of rubbish designs with basic design errors in the last 10-15 years is remarkably high.

The internal combustion engine is certainly going out with a bang - often a conrod through the block on the M1 it seems!

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - Avant

Rather like a lot of French cars, there are plenty of good used Minis around, but they are more vulnerable than some others to abuse and neglect by previous owners. They're mostly bought new either by young single people or as second cars by couples; either way a lot of them will have had a life of short journeys.

SWMBO had several of them in a row: reliable enough but we had them from new. None of them struck me as being particularly robust, and personally I wouldn;t fancy a used one.

But if she's set her heart on a Mini, LP, probably nothing else will do. You could perhaps show her a buyers' guide in a magazine and see if anything else takes her fancy. VW Up or Fiat 500 perhaps?

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - lucklesspedestrian

She's a bit odd that way though, she doesn't generally like small cars i.e. it's only the mini (okay, and the TT but that's too low for her back) that she likes. If she was to go for an alternative she's probably fancy something bigger....I didn't say it made sense!

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - gordonbennet

MINI and Audi TT's do seem to have an attraction for many women, my friend has just bought yet another new MINI for his wife, top spec flying machines too, every one has been subject to numerous visits back to the dealer for warranty work and none dare kept once warranty exprired, the first two it was supercharger or turbo failure plus regular timing chains.

The third was several timing kits and an engine top end rebuild, in fact it went back very early on a special deal, not sure what the score was with number 4, think by then they'd worn a mini size groove in the main road to the dealer, doubt any of them covered more than 25k in the three years.

None of this matters, she loves the things and who's to say she is wrong, they have the money and the dealer does look after them to be fair, though my mate is probably the most stubborn man in the county and no car dealer yet born will ever fob him off.

If you do find timing chain rattles do your research because there are chaps about who have perfected refitting these things in record time at very reasonable cost.

I too think the first MINI's were quite snazzy little things, not too sure about the bloated things of late, but each to their own.

Edited by gordonbennet on 02/07/2017 at 11:16

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - lucklesspedestrian

Popped into a local dealers this evening and came away with a nice 2015 Seat Leon 1.2 TSi (110) SE (Tech). Sensible, reliable, nice to drive, decent spec (sat nav/DAB and LED lights) bit cheaper than many others on AT and a very fair trade in on the Volvo (plus £30 pa tax is a bonus). SWMBO seems very happy!

We'll settle for capable but slightly boring at the moment and I'll be back here in maybe 3 years time when I get the itch for a fun car (I can really see myself in late 2000's Jag XJ 350 series!)

Thanks again

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - Avant

Should be a very good choice, LP. I think you'll find that the Leon will be capable, and much more practical than a Mini, but far from boring to drive. That TSI engine is lovely - very nippy and lots of low-down torque.

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - lucklesspedestrian

Should be a very good choice, LP. I think you'll find that the Leon will be capable, and much more practical than a Mini, but far from boring to drive. That TSI engine is lovely - very nippy and lots of low-down torque.

You're not kidding.

Now that we've got the thing home, I'm really surprised at just how well it drives. Okay, it's no sports car but that's a really smooth, willing engine, snappy gearchange, easy clutch, quick, direct steering and a really well sorted chassis. Can a 1.2l run of the mill hatchback be classed as 'fun'?....err, yes it would seem!

MINI Cooper and Cooper S - Mini for SWMBO, yes or no? - SLO76
The Leon is a good choice. Though a 1.4 TSi FR may have been worth paying extra for as it would've satisfied managements girl racer tendencies.
 

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