Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mini Cooper S

I was on leave last Thursday and my morning agenda was to fetch Ajae from the Audi Hangar Glenmarie as he’s sending his Polo for rectification. And knowing him well enough now, it’s never come as a surprise to me that he will always be late in anything (pun intended Ajae! :P). During my initial waiting at the Hangar looking at arrays of B8 A4 2.0T and Mk2 TT 2.0T, it tickers my bell, is a pre-reg Mini Cooper S R56 a bargain now?

There and then, I drove out of the Hangar and head straight to Auto Bavaria which is less than 2 clicks away. Parked the Pocong at the “Customer Only” parking, I strolled into the showroom and meet a Mini Specialist by the name of Adam. Sad to say there’s no pre-reg Mini available because they don’t have problem in selling them! And there’s no MCS on displayed too but there’s one for test-drive….

Honestly speaking, I prefer the looks of its predecessor R53 as I feel the R56 getting too grown up and bengkak front end doesn’t helped either. Interior design funkiness is still not my cup of tea, and why a huge speedometer placed at the centre? Do you want me to get kicked in arse by my wifey for going 1km/h above speed limit?! And why in the god’s world they only bringing in auto?

As soon as I’m driving it out of the Auto Bavaria compound with sport button turned on and DSC off, my none-insured mouth began to shut up. The power feels very natural, responsive almost NA like with torqueyness of unmistakably forced fed. Unlike the 308 turbo which shares the same engine as this, the power doesn’t seem to be tapering off after 4k rpm, it keeps on pulling till it reaches to someway past 5k rpm. Though not as Pocong fast but it’s quick nonetheless at 184bhp and 260nm.

The only achilles heal to this is the auto box, it just doesn’t do justice to this MCS. Although it comes with slightly closer final drive than the 308 (I think), it’s not as responsive as DSG or DCT as what BMW calls it. As a driver’s car, it can only be fun with manual box which like a mechanical watch might not be as accurate and rapid as digital ones but it gives every sense of purity and enjoyment of every tick.

With the wider chassis and tracks, you can mesh almost all the juice coming from the 1.6 turbo going into the corner and it will stick to it. Might now be as JCW level but screw the MiTo, Pocong and Golf GTI, they wouldn’t stand a chance on windy roads, this is inevitable truth. Going really hardcore, you could trail brake as you turn into a corner, instigates a swivel, four wheel slides and the front bonnet should be able to pointing out of the corner very early in its radius. Once getting the hang of it, you can string corners together with dabs here, lifts there at huge amount of speed. And yet this MCS doesn’t comes with LSD.

Equally amazes me is the steering, it just full of feel, pure, quick but none of the artificial fuzziness you’d get from the MiTo. The only downside to this is wider turning circle than maybe a CRV. No doubt that it’s the best feel I’ve got from any road going car I’ve driven. People often enough scoff at the MCS for having choppy, at worst harsh ride but for me it’s OK, yes it’s firm but none of those jarring or harsh. In fact, I think ABT spring-ed Polo GTI would be far worse.

At this moment, maybe some of you would think the FD2R still has the edge over the MCS. In terms of raw pace, definitely hands down and to a certain extend handing too but you’ve to understand, Conti hatches have always giving more adjustability at the limit while the R badge Hondas making full use of its diff to really work with the chassis and give awesome grip in and out corners. Two separate recipes but outcome is pretty much the similar excitements. It’s very much of a case of some like cheese cake while some others prefer good ol apple pie for dessert.

After 15 minutes drive, honestly I don’t want to give back the keys to Adam but two things made me to. First and foremost is the lack of manual transmission in the MCS in here and second is the price of RM239k. It’s really hard to justify the asking amount when the FD2R which offers far more power, space and practicality bar the choppy ride at RM40k cheaper and the same amount can buy you Rocco Lampone inspired Scirocco which is the in-thing hot hatch nowadays. But if you’re looking for classic reincarnated hot hatch which isn’t only about the looks but goes really well too, you can never go wrong with MCS.

Back to me, looking at wifey going into a step higher in her career ladder and me god willing enroute to greener grass, this MCS will be in our radar for long time to come.

Laser blue with white stripes and top is my current favourite colour


  1. You can get a Mini John Cooper Works in manual for a paltry sum of RM279k ;)

  2. Very expensive for me to afford one :(
    But I wish the MCS has more power like JCW 211bhp hehehe

  3. go do some research on the issues with the R56 first before plonking your cash on one.

    it ain't perfect and ever since the R50/53 days, BMW hasn't been doing very well in the quality department on this car. :(

    btw, the JCW unit is fast! probably same as a modded pocong!

  4. Jed,

    If only JCW costing RM240k .....

  5. I am a fan of minis, more of the real mini, none of that BMW crap. The pocong has a much better base and engine to play around with. Its easy to get more then double your current power figures, with larger turbo K04, intake manifold and a remap. Still bolt on stuff! With serious internal the 1.8T can make up to 500+ hp, now try doing that on the way!!

  6. Mugil,

    In terms of power, the 1.6 turbo Prince engine can't match the potential of ancient VW 1.8T but the handling of the MCS in stock form just cant be matched by the Polo even modded. That's why I'm like this but stay tuned for clutch upgrade, it's just inevitable replacement at 45k

  7. if you like handling, i wouldn't bother getting the MINI at 240k. get yourself a Lotus. the elise should be around that price band too. it'll trounce a lot of supercars around the likes of Ulu Yam and Kuala Klawang.