Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
6/5/22 4:38 p.m.

I am looking into F56 Mini Coopers as a new fun car that my wife would enjoy driving as a replacement for her 19' Mazda3 Hatch.  We are looking at the two-door hatch models for something small, nimble, and quick to react to inputs.  Something generally fun to drive and easy as a daily driver for a 30 minute commute.  An automatic is a must for her, and front wheel drive is preferred so the Mini and possibly a GTI are on the table, the styling of the MINI is something she has always liked so that gives it a leg up.  

So far, I can see its best to avoid the 14-15 models for some teething issues as the car entered the new generation.  I am looking for a Cooper S, but I might have her check out the regular Cooper as well, especially if I can find one new enough for the DCT transmission.  Any issues to note with the 3 & 4cyl BMW engines and automatic transmissions?  I might have seen a reference to a high pressure fuel pump problem?  

The general internet lore on MINI's tells me they aren't terribly reliable, especially the second generation.  I looked at one that needed work and ran away after I read into things.  The third generation cars seem to have improved, but I'd like to know what issues to watch out for.  The last 30k in the Mazda have been trouble free and I feel like that might not be the case here, but I hope I'm wrong.  I would be performing the maintenance for the car.

Any notes on how these respond to software tunes or initial modifications that make living with a MINI more enjoyable or reliable?

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/5/22 6:01 p.m.

We have a 2016 F55 (4-door), bought new in Dec 2015. It's got a little over 76,000 miles on it, and the problems have been:

  1. buzzy speaker, replaced under warranty
  2. cracked spark plug insulator, replaced under warranty (resulted in a miss when driving downhill while cold that would go away after restart)(!?)
  3. Crank balancer/serpentine drive pulley, which was just a few months ago; failed and had to get a tow home; outside warranty mileage

It's otherwise been rock solid; I'm starting to think the dampers might be getting a little tired, just a little more dancing over expansion joints when I recall it being properly BMW-planted when new. It's a base model, and honestly, faster is usually more fun, but it's plenty quick for something whose primary job is household appliance. Similarly, as far as "fun" goes, it's a matter of context and expectations. It's way more fun to drive than the Leaf it replaced, probably not a ton less fun than the WRX before that, but for me nowhere near as much fun as my older and more modified cars. I don't really expect any relatively pedestrian modern car to be much better on that front.

I don't know when these got a DCT; I did drive an automated-manual rental Clubman, and I hated it compared to the BMW automatic in the contemporary 3-series. Clunky and ponderous, while the BMW's auto did very little of the annoying mushiness I associate with autos.

Ours is dead stock in hardware and tune, and I did one season of autocross with no more prep than throwing a set of RE-71Rs on the stock wheels all summer, and took at least one win in the aggregated G/H-street-ish (IIRC?) group.

I'm still trying to figure out whether these suffer from the cooling system expiration date thing BMWs did for quite a while. I need to figure that out, because if it does, it's gotta be getting close...

MiniDave New Reader
6/5/22 9:36 p.m.

If you decide to go with the F56, I hve a set of new car take off (50 miles) JCW springs and shocks for it, I bought them for my R55 but they don't fit the earlier car. PM me if you go that route and let me know ,

I'm somewhat biased of course, but I think a MINI is just about as much fun as you can have with your pants on, and the 2 liter cars are even better! The Aisin 6 speed auto's are terrific. My car has just over 100K and so far other than oil changes, brakes pads and tires - 1 water pump, one thermostat and one timing chain. The newer cars don;t suffer from these specific issues......I think once they went to the BMW engines their engine woes were pretty much over.

Mine is right in the heart of the "bad" engines, and I had the timing chain done under warranty at 50K, hasn't been an issue since. Mine gets used - it's done track days, towed my Mini from coast to coast, north and south and is still going strong. Oh, and I have the 6 speed auto transmission with the flappy paddles, it is not sluggish on shifts up or down.

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
6/7/22 10:52 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback guys.  I lucked out and a local Chevy dealer had a JCW, Cooper S, and Cooper all for sale in their used inventory and I was able to test drive all three of them back to back.  The JCW was a fun one, but I think for the money and ability the Cooper S is the sweet spot with what I am looking for.

Aspen HalfDork
6/8/22 10:43 a.m.

Got my daughter a 2017 base with manual.  No issue and it is a hoot to drive in the city.  I like it more than my M240i.

Would buy again.

I think the 3 cylinder is plenty for city driving and gets excellent mileage. The auto will make it slower but even better FE.

Look at a new electric Mini if it's just for a comuter. Depending on incentives it is a pretty good deal.

MiniDave New Reader
6/8/22 9:00 p.m.

Actually, the automatic is quicker from 0-60.....

It's great that you got to drive all three, I agree that the cooper S is worth  the extra money, unless it's just a city car - and probably even then.

Aspen HalfDork
6/9/22 9:32 a.m.

In reply to MiniDave :

You're right, the auto is quicker, I guess I was thinking of the 5 door or something.

Anyway 7.0s to 60 for the 3 cylinder is pretty good.  It will spin tires off the line easily.  The S will be faster but comes with more stuff and significant price bump.

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