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Discussion Starter #1
I'm asking this question here because so many Lotus enthusiasts have an affection for MINIs.

If you had say $21k - $25k to spend on a MINI Cooper S, which would you choose?

A loaded '05 - '06 R53 (supercharged) MCS?

or

A no-frills new R56 (turbocharged) MCS?


The general concensus is that the R53 is more visceral with better steering feel, better sounds from the engine and exhaust, and better looks ... but the newer R56 has the better engine (smoother and more powerful - albeit with a hint of torque steer), more liveable suspension, and better efficiency.


Since MINIs supposedly have such strong resale value, would I be better off buying new or buying a 2 year old car that has lost some value? I would think that even a MINI, like most cars, takes the biggest depreciation hit in the first 2 years.

Your thoughts?
 

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Drove both, but hard to compare, as the R56 was on 16 runflats, and the R53 was on nicer, but older, 17" (sumis? don't remember now). Power/torque-wise, they were pretty much the same (as far as my buttdyno went). The R53 was twitchier, harder to keep in a neutral slide on the cloverleafs than the R56, but the R56 had a lot more lean.

IMHO, it was a wash. I could easily see fixing either cars problems. I opted for the R56 because it seemed slightly more spacious, and my wife wanted the nav.

Something else to consider: the R53 has been around for a while, and has a nice, well understood, well documented upgrade path, whereas the R56 is new... I haven't seen many real engine mods for it yet, and limited suspension mods.
 

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We just bought an 08. It seemed to me that the resale value was pretty high on the used Minis once you consider the number of miles on the used vehicles. On the new vehicle, you get three years/36,000 miles coverage for everything, including oil changes.

It's been a while since I've driven the older models, so sorry, I can't compare the handling.
 

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I just bought an R56 last month. It is definitely the daily driver of the two. The suspension is a more compliant, although I still feel like it could be a lot better if I ditched the runflats. The turbo engine starts to make power sooner and has impressive torque. When I drove an R53, it seemed like it took longer to make any usable power (3000 RPM versus the R56 which makes peak torque at 1600). The R56's steering didn't seem quite as responsive, but the car also feels less twitchy. I felt like the R53's steering was maybe a little too responsive, especially as a daily driver. The final area that sold me on the R56 versus the competition like the Civic Si, Mazdaspeed3 and Volvo C30 was the fuel economy. I have yet to have a tank less than low 30s in mine, which is impressive considering the performance level of the car.
 

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I bought my R56 with the premium package (upgraded audio, sunroof, and auto climate control), LSD, Xenon Headlights and rear fogs. It came in a hair over $25k MSRP. I got the dealer to throw in a clear bra and floor mats, but had to pay MSRP. The only option I regret not getting is the USB and bluetooth, mainly for the USB.

I would definitely get the rear fogs if you order an R56. For an extra $100, they fill in the holes in the rear valence and fill out the toggle switches in the dash.
 

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If you're looking for something more on the fun/Lotusish side grab the R53. Practical and more BMWish get the R56. If you want something even more practical and still decent fun grab a Clubman.

I have a late 06 R53 (some suspension bits and hubs from the R56) and don't ever plan on trading it for an R56. I've driven a couple R56's with different tires and whatever and this is my second older one (I had an R50 [Cooper]) and I find the R56 has so much less soul than my R53 or R50. The steering and go-kart feel of the R50/53 is severely lacking in the R56 as well as the overall connection to the road. Plus, I think the R56 fell right out of the ugly tree compared to the R53. Just my opinion though, you should definitely get seat time in them both before you make a decision, they are definitely different beasts.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
you should definitely get seat time in them both before you make a decision, they are definitely different beasts.

I drove an '06 MCS and an '08 MCS two weekends ago at the local MINI dealer. I honestly couldn't tell which I liked better. The R56 did have some get up and go, but I couldn't push the R53 on that same test route because I was behind a slow poke driver. Traffic was clear when I drove the R56.

Test drives only tell you so much.

Is the R53 / R56 debate similar to the E30 M3 vs E36 M3 debate? The E36 M3 was more comfortable, more torquey, and turned faster laps with a smoother suspension - but the E30 M3 was more involving and more raw. The real deal.
 

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If you're looking for something more on the fun/Lotusish side grab the R53. Practical and more BMWish get the R56. If you want something even more practical and still decent fun grab a Clubman.

I have a late 06 R53 (some suspension bits and hubs from the R56) and don't ever plan on trading it for an R56. I've driven a couple R56's with different tires and whatever and this is my second older one (I had an R50 [Cooper]) and I find the R56 has so much less soul than my R53 or R50. The steering and go-kart feel of the R50/53 is severely lacking in the R56 as well as the overall connection to the road. Plus, I think the R56 fell right out of the ugly tree compared to the R53. Just my opinion though, you should definitely get seat time in them both before you make a decision, they are definitely different beasts.

I agree completly with above. I had a 2004 S and then bought a 2005 S for my wife and son to share.

I then traded my 2004 Works car for a new 2006 S. I love it. And I do like it more than the 2007 car. My friend has a 2007 and I noticed a difference. The 2006 is more crisp and more go cart like feel.

I would get a 2007-2008 S Convert....as they are still the old style. I dont think you can compare the two. I dont know what I am going to do when I have to get rid of my 2006 when I wear it out. Perhaps I will keep it 25 years...and then I wont need a car anymore. They will probably take away my license when I am 80.

Edit...I also have the chrono pack in both my cars. That moves the speedo next to the tach right in front of you. I HATE the center speedo. My 2004 had that and I never looked at it once in the time I owned it. It was a major reason for me to trade it in.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Edit...I also have the chrono pack in both my cars. That moves the speedo next to the tach right in front of you. I HATE the center speedo. My 2004 had that and I never looked at it once in the time I owned it. It was a major reason for me to trade it in.

Bingo! The '05 MCS I'm looking at has the Chrono Package. I also hate that giant center speedo. I don't need NAV, but if I were to get a new R56, I'd have to get NAV just to make that speedo area look a little better. The chrono package on the R53 really is the way to go. It keeps the circular theme going while putting the speedo in the general area where it belongs.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Get the r53. I love mine:D
I think I will. It's way too pricey to spec out a new R56 anyway. It would be over $30k the way I want it. And that's not even factoring in the JCW stuff. At $30k+, I'd have to seriously consider some other vehicles.

Besides, maybe history will be fond of Frank Stephenson's work.

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TURIN, Italy — Frank Stephenson, 47, the Casablanca-born American designer who penned the design of the Maserati MC12 and Ferrari F430, has been appointed as the new Alfa Romeo style chief. Credited with embracing a sharp and modern design philosophy, Stephenson is expected to turn his attention to such major design projects as the Alfa 149, the Fiat Grande Punto-based "Junior," a new flagship sedan christened Alfa 169 and an upcoming crossover vehicle.

He fills a position that had been unoccupied since Wolfgang Egger left to become head of Audi's Style Center. Stephenson, who graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, is widely viewed as one of the powerhouse minds in the global automotive design community. He was appointed director of Ferrari-Maserati Concept Design and Development in 2002. His duties there included overseeing the introduction of the Maserati Quattroporte and the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. He also spent 11 years working as a senior designer at BMW, where he developed the X5 and won kudos for creating the new Mini in 2001.
Prior to his new post, Stephenson was the head of the Fiat, Lancia and Light Commercial Vehicles Style Center. During his tenure at Fiat, Stephenson oversaw the creation of the remake of the historic Cinquecento and the Lancia Delta HPE concept and headed the development of the Fiat Punto and Bravo models.
 

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We drive ours all year long, including the snow. I have blizzaks on both. It is my daily driver. You wont be sorry.

I wish I did not have to...but that is the way it is.

I have as much fun driving the Mini S as I do the Elise. Nothing was a much fun as my Caterham...but that is another story.
 

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I have yet to have a tank less than low 30s in mine, which is impressive considering the performance level of the car.
I get 24-29... I guess I better lay off the pedal :shift:
 

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Get a Turbo MCS. Then get the JCW Tuning kit. I can hook you up on that since I work for them. The Supercharged cars feel like dogs off the line compared to the turbo. 200 ft/lbs at 1800 rpms woot!
 

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We get 23 or 24 in the city on both cars. About 28-30 on the highway.
 

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I could be wrong, but, might the turbo version yield slightly higher MPG numbers?


I'm not necessarily talking about EPA estimates. Just real world experience.
From what I have seen the turbo cars are higher on EPA estimates and in the real world. I find the EPA estimates match what I get pretty closely.
 
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