It’s a bit challenging to write about a car that I have an emotional attachment for, after all; there’s been a Mini in our family for almost 4 years now. So I will try extra hard to remain on task and not let it win me over with its “mini” charm.
I can imagine MINI designers had their work cut out, having to redesign one of the most iconic cars in history must have kept them up at night. I picture them calling their mates at Stuttgart wondering how they deal with the pressure of redesigning the Porsche 911 time and time again! I will now do my best give you a rundown of this new MINI along with what to expect from the car, the brand and dealer experience. For current owners I’ll also share my thoughts on how this new F56 stacks up against previous generations.
My first mini purchase was a leap of faith; I didn’t know anything about the brand other than they’re owned by BMW and their cars drive like go karts. So that was enough for me! Since then, we’ve lived and serviced our MINIs in three different dealers in three different states.
MINI Dealer Experience- Here in Indianapolis Dreyer and Reinbold MINI does an incredible job at embracing everything that MINI stands for. The atmosphere, the people and their personalized customer service is nothing short of first class. Every time we visit the dealer, Aaron and Alex from the service department, Allison at front desk and Jerry all greet me, my wife and kids by name. They are the reason why we’ve now purchased multiple vehicles from them.
The Car- This redesign is extremely important to MINI as a manufacturer, now more than ever Mini has to attract new crowd to the brand, but it also has to keep loyal fans within. That’s exactly the look of the new MINI achieves. It’s iconic and nearly impossible to confuse it with anything else on the road. The new lines show it’s heritage, the racing stripes tell you that this MINI is as playful as ever, if not MORE. The new LED running lights along flared wheel arches and bulging hood lines give it an outright sporty look. It’s a MINI that would look right at home in the Rallye Monte Carlo even 50 years after it’s first victory.
The Engine- I believe this is the biggest and most relevant change for the new MINI. This power plant will dictate MINIs relevance in todays competitive and highly technological engine war. The TwinPower Turbo engine is seriously good, It’s very manageable as it is smooth… very BMW-esque. The 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine does what you want it to do, if you’re running errands around town or commuting to work, it’ll be as comfortable and soft as you want it to be. But take a break from the mundane and join your local auto cross, or explore some new country roads, it will give you a ride that seemed almost incomprehensible the day before as you drove this car to work. And that’s when I figured out that the Adjustable Driving Modes are what makes this MINI the best MINI ever.
GREEN-MID-SPORT- I spent most of my weekend with this car toggling between GREEN and SPORT, I had a short drive in the F56 S a few months back and I was not impressed… but now I realize I didn’t allow the car to be itself, to show me what it’s made of. Now that I’ve driven it more miles and have let the car work it’s magic, I am simply shocked at just how good and how intelligent this car really is.
Comfortable everyday driving can be accomplished by reaching down by the shifter and clicking the lever over to Green mode. You will notice the overall behavior of the car change immediately. You will feel the revs drop down and the suspension soften up, the throttle response relaxes and even the dynamic LED ring on the center dash turns Green. Come to a full stop or red light and the engine will automatically shut down; release the brake and then engine will quickly come back to life. Very cool stuff. Passing on the highway is still seamless even on Green mode. The transmissions intuitive electronics quickly figure out your intentions and shift down as needed. This is the perfect everyday setting, it delivers it’s best MPG, it’s comfortable and tame without being lame.
Enough of that comfortable stuff, can this new MINI motor hard like MINIs are meant to do? Oh absolutely!
Reach down and select Sport, you can feel the ride tighten, the revs come up, the exhaust is free to crackle and pop… And yes, the dynamic LED ring turns bright red and that’s when you know you’ve been cleared for take off. My wife and I decided to drive our review Cooper S Hardtop and our Countryman S down to Brown County State Park in southern Indiana, we had the chance to enjoy the gorgeous fall scenery along with some really fun twisty roads so we could see what the new MINI is capable off. As you dive into tight corners and back road hairpins, you can feel the BMW-derived suspension live up to the “rides like it’s on rails” saying.
Old vs. New- My 08 MINI S Hardtop was an awesome car, it was fun and practical. Keep in mind we have two kids, so that gives you an idea of how versatile a MINI can be. But most of all, it was a basic car; it was a drivers car, it steered like it, it braked like it, and it’s suspension hurt your back like it as well. Having to deal with Indy’s potholes made me curse it’s basic interior and hard suspension more than twice. The new interior is elegant, well thought-out and is much more functional. The new door handles are something to admire, the glowing red START engine button is flat out cool. Yes, overall it’s less childish than previous MINIs, but that’s not a bad thing. Do your senses a favor and visit Dreyer and Reinbold for a test drive…Now!