A couple MINI Cooper questions

My girlfriend’s looking for a new car, and one of the ones she’s considering is a MINI Cooper convertible. We went and looked at them today and they seem pretty nice, but I am hoping any Dopers have experience with them and can offer some input.

  1. The trunk looks…vestigial. Anything beyond a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread seems like it would completely fill it. How much of a problem has that been for you?

  2. She only drove it with the top down and we didn’t notice until we were about to leave that the visibility out the back window looks about as good as that of a 747. Is rear-window visibility actually not that bad, do you learn to rely on your mirrors, or do you just not worry about anything behind you?

In the process of researching her car, I’ve started thinking that they’re pretty cool and kind of want one myself. I’m looking at an S version, hardtop, manual. The only things I noticed that I didn’t like about that one were that the throttle was not as direct as I’d like and some torque steer-ish behavior. Anyone know anything about software packages that might improve throttle response? Getting on the gas coming out of a turn was cause for some additional steering input. Is that just an inescapable consequence of having front wheel drive and some power , or are there suspension options that can tone it down?

Good car, cute. Decent gas milage.

Parts are service are fairly pricy.

There is also the Mini Clubman.

I own a MINI Cooper S, Chili Red, Union Jack on the roof and it kicks @$$.

I test drove the convertible when I was looking for mine and I also thought that the visibility was not as good as in the hardtop, but my car has worse visibility then my wife’s bug and I just have learned to adapt. Check my blind spots all the time, check all the mirrors, etc. I think if you really like the softtop, you will work out how to deal with the visibility.

As for trunk space, it has not been an issue with me. I recently fit a massage table in mine which I purchased. I regularly take it to Costco (warehouse store for anyone who doesn’t know) and just drop the back seats if I have bought a ton of stuff.

There are software upgrades available, I know DINAN does MINI software upgrades, but they are not cheap, I think they start at a couple of grand. Here is a link to a site devoted to MINIs and all their mods. You should be able to find out answers to all your questions (and many you never even thought of). As for the understeer, AFAIK, it is a product of the power and the front-wheel drive but you can add a Dynamic Stability Control option which reduces power to reduce understeer.

Hope this helps.

MINIs Rock!

Trunk space might be more of an issue in the convertible though, since the roof cubby hole eats away at what is already a small trunk. I’m not sure about the Mini - is the roof cubby hole fixed or does the roof just lower into the trunk?

Basically, both the trunk space and rear view questions are typical convertible questions. I drive an Alfa Romeo Spider, which scores horrible in both those departments. But the main question is: what is the car going to be used for? And how much are you willing to compromise? With a bit of creativity, our car holds a week’s worth of shopping, and that’s in a two seater (I believe the Mini has at least some sense of a rear bench, even if it is only accessible for grocery bags). And we’re taking it for a 10 day cruise to and from Italy in a few weeks. But if we need something from IKEA, it’ll have to be delivered.

Rear visibility on most convertibles is poor when the roof’s closed. You learn to rely on your side mirrors more. I personally don’t find it dangerous, but it might unnerve some people. Moreover, roof-up means considerable blind spots to either side, so getting one of those little inset blind spot mirrors might be a good tip (it’s saved me a few times already).

Other than that, Minis are great little cars, and the convertible is the cutest of the lot. Personally I liked the model better before the latest facelift, but that might be just me.

2006 Cooper S here.

No problem for me. Like RickQ, I just lay the rear seats down with more/bigger things. Obviously that depends on how much you plan to use the rear seats and there’s still some upper limit, but I virtually never use the rear seats (I’ve even considered the rear seat delete mod) and I’ve always had plenty of space for a grocery run.

My test drive was in a top-up convertible and, yeah, the visibility was bad and not something I would want to get used to, but then I’m not much for convertibles anyway. I opted for the hardtop w/sunroof instead and just drive with the sunroof and windows open as appropriate and enjoy the greater visibility.

One good thing about MINIs is that there is no shortage of options, for performance or otherwise. If you don’t like the turbo lag and don’t want to mess with mods, you could also consider a 2006 or before model (supercharged instead of turbocharged).


We found another convertible (used, and manual, so I drove) today and rear visibility, while not good, isn’t nearly as terrible as we’d been afraid. The right over-shoulder visibility is kind of a brick wall, though. Trunk space is still an issue, but since she rarely if ever carries people around, the back seat should suffice for storage. She found a car with all the options she wants at a price she can afford, but it’s in Oklahoma City, so it looks like a road trip may be in order this weekend.

I showed this thread to my boyfriend who has a MINI and loves it. He got the Dynamic Stability Control option and hefeels it was a total waste of money. According to him, it may be useful for a novice car driver, but not much more. It’s very intrusive.

YMMV. (heh!)

What’s with the UPPER CASE? Mini isn’t an acronym, capitals are not required!

MINI Cooper = the new BMW cars.
Mini Cooper = the old ones.

I love my MINI. I have a 2005 S and debated about getting a convertible. If I lived somewhere where the winters are milder than here, I’d love one.

And as long as we’re nitpicking, not all Minis or MINIS are Coopers, of course. :slight_smile:

I never quite understood “understeer” vs"oversteer"? :confused:

Pretend you’re driving too fast and your wheels start to slip. If you’re trying to turn and your car just keeps going straight (the front wheels just plow forward), that’s understeer. If your’re trying to turn and the car turns too much (the back wheels slide out), that’s oversteer. Extremely simplified, front wheel drive would tend to make a car want to understeer while rear wheel drive tends to make a car want to oversteer.

The latest issue of Consumer Reports rates the current batch of hatchbacks out there. They really seemed to like the Volkswagen Rabbit.

I think they made a mistake there. :frowning: They did not have enuf info on reliability and VW has been sucking at reliability these last few years.

Mini convertible owner here…

Yep, the boot is titchy tiny in the convertible, but then I can’t imagine anyone buying a Mini for pure practicality. If I need to carry more than a couple of bags of shopping, I just sling everything on the back seat. Great thing about a soft top is you can put the roof down for hefty item - I have been known to drive around London with a 7ft Christmas tree sitting on the back seat.

Yes, visibility is not good, so I have become adept at using my wing mirrors. But the convertibles DO come with reverse warning bleeps as standard, which I have come to rely heavily on. I’ve adapted just fine.

Okay, I may be a gay woman, but I’m still a woman, and this means NOTHING to me.