Monday, April 4, 2016

Used Car Review - Mini Cooper (2010-2014)

For the first Monday of the month, Myk Belmonte explores this fun pick.

2010-2014 Mini Cooper

We all know that some people love that nostalgic feeling especially that reminiscing the past is a huge thing. Although there is limited appeal, throwbacks are somewhat restricted to a certain crowd that have active lifestyles. Some had gone with the wind such as the Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser while some had stood the test of time just like the fate of the Ford Mustang and Mini Cooper. Although styling would elicit varying opinions for some, as they say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Replacing the long-running model built from 1959 by British Motor Corporation and two other succeeding companies (it was sold in a bevy of names including Austin and Morris, among others), the MINI concept was brought back to life by BMW after purchasing the Rover Group in 1994 although it was sold later on but retained the rights for making cars using the MINI name. Do take note this vehicle has no mechanical relation with the older model. As of today, the Hatchback model is three generations strong with numerous spin-off models throughout the years.

Prior to the official arrival of Mini here in the Philippines, the hatchback model was available through the grey market. Fast forward to 2010, the complete line-up of the Mini marque was brought here together with high levels of customization that the customer desires. What we are reviewing here is the second generation model, sold elsewhere since 2006 while the convertible versions are still in production.

Value and Costs
Ranging from P1,500,000 to P1,900,000 for a second hand unit, don't expect for something cheaper since these babies are known for their high resale value. In that range, you'll find naturally aspirated models and turbo S models and a John Cooper Works that later joined the line. No imported units to be found here, although some first generation models exist below a million bucks.

Obviously, the S and JCW models are expensive to run while choosing the basic Cooper rewards you the same fun content at low running costs. Do take note that the turbocharged engines need to be driven regularly to avoid buildup of carbon deposits. Check the oil and hear the timing-chain rattle which says the previous owner had driven the car for a long time on low oil pressure. Manuals need to be checked for vibrations which signals for a replacement of the dual-mass flywheel that is on the expensive side.

Exterior and Interior
Unlike other design languages whose styling wouldn't last long or gets old fast, the Mini's exterior styling can be traced from the previous generation model but as they say, why fix something that isn't broken. Features that make this a standout include the floating roof, headlights which makes you smile, a sculpted hood, and those fender flares which has that throwback to the original Mini. S and regular JCW models can be distinguished by its hood scoop, mesh grille, and a rear spoiler. If choosing a JCW 50 do take note that it is only available in green and white color motif and carbon fiber bits.

A touch of past with some modern touches comprise the interior, which is done tastefully and appeals to everyone. Thinking that Mickey Mouse had invaded the cabin or had designed it, circles and a lot of circles are present with the highlight is the centrally mounted speedometer which is insanely huge and everyone will know how fast you are. Other things to see inside are mood lighting fixed in the doors while door locks and window switches are situated in the center console. Practicality isn't something to be happy with, since the rear seat has limited legroom and you are better off with the Clubman.

Only one engine displacement is offered, a 1.6 liter, but with three varying fuel systems. First on the list is a naturally aspirated engine with 118hp at 6,000rpm and 160Nm at 4,250rpm powering the ordinary Cooper models. Next that we will talk about is the turbocharged version for the S which possess 175hp at 5,500rpm and 240Nm at 1,600-5,000rpm (overboost will give you 260Nm at 1,700 to 4,500rpm) and lastly a twin scroll for the JCW which rewards you 208hp at 6,000rpm and 261Nm at 1,850-5,600rpm (280Nm at 2,000-5,300rpm for overboost). Any of the three engines will satisfy your need for driving fun but you're better off with the regular 1.6 for daily duties. All models are available in either six-speed manual or automatic (JCW only with the former) but going for the three pedaled unit is the satisfying choice.

Driving Impressions
Think of this vehicle as a covered go-kart, the Cooper's light weight body coupled with a precise steering feel and a controllable body during cornering. Going for the S gains a Sports mode, stiff suspension, and larger rims which contributes to a better handling but ride comfort isn't good, while JCW variants are more hardcore. Last thing to remember for turbocharged models is the inability of mounting the necessary tools for changing a spare tire which is blocked by a center-exit exhaust.

Continuing a good and iconic name is a huge challenge, and BMW didn't fail to impress the loyalists of the original model in its revival. Yes, the MINI is very expensive to begin with but the driving experience is worth the purchase plus fuel consumption and size are manageable which makes it a fun (forget placing people at the rear seat) pick for the daily drive.

The Good:
  • Fun to drive
  • Handling is precise
  • High resale values, good for the first owner
The Bad:

  • Impractical to begin with
  • Limited space at the back
  • High resale values, bad for second hand buyers
The Pick: 1.6 Cooper

Engine: 1,598cc 16V I4 gasoline
Power: 118hp @ 6,000rpm (Cooper), 175hp @ 5,500rpm (S), 208hp @ 6,000rpm (JCW)
Torque: 160Nm @ 4,250rpm (Cooper), 240Nm at 1,600-5,000rpm (260Nm at 1,700 to 4,500rpm overboost) (S), 261Nm at 1,850-5,600rpm (280Nm at 2,000-5,300rpm overboost) (JCW)
Fuel Consumption: 8-10km/L (city), 12-14km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear longitunal strut

Price (New): P2,000,000-P3,000,000
Price (Now): P1,500,000-P1,900,000
Rivals: Peugeot 208 GTI
On Sale: 2010-2014

MINI Global City - (02) 856-6555

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