MINI owners' opinions wanted!

So Brynda, my wife, and I are going to be in the market to replace my Subaru Forester soon (less than six months) and we have been thinking about a MINI. I love the idea of having one and getting a British flag on the roof (me being British an’ all) and we have been kicking the idea around for a month/six weeks or so. But…my wife’s car is a VW Beetle, so another small car might be a wee bit impractical.

We went out and test drove 4 MINIs today. I think I like the 5 speed manual Cooper the best. We also test drove a couple of Subaru’s and thought about other SUVS but the bottom line is I liked the MINI the most.

MINI drivers, I want your opinions. Are they as fun to drive as my short test drive makes me think? Are the usable for everyday driving and tasks (grocery store, etc)?

We are DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) and plan to stay like that. The only thing we need to think about is carting around family member occasionally but the Bug fits 4 people pretty well for all but long trips. How is the MINI with hauling people and stuff? We don’t haul stuff often (we counted it up and have hauled stuff in my Forester this year about twice that wouldn’t have fit in the Bug) and we think with the savings we may make in gas usage we can rent a truck 4 times a year when we need stuff for the yard or house or just get it delivered for $50 or so.

I think our minds are probably[sub]mostly[/sub] made up, but I do want to hear what people have to say.

[sub]No need to tell me we are crazy, I already know that[/sub]

I love my MINI. Always fun to drive, always.
It holds quite a lote, too, being boxy and all.
I wouldn’t want to hold more than one person in the back seat, especially if the people in the front are tall.
I recommend the sport seats for comfort.

I love my MINI. I have a 2005 ‘S’ 6-speed model, so my gas milage isn’t as great as the base model Cooper, but still not too bad. I don’t haul people, really, my rear seats are mostly folded down all the time. I do haul bikes on it, and grocery shop and stuff with it.

It is definitely as fun to drive as the test drive showed you. I often find myself driving it just for fun, with no particular destination in mind (road trip!). It handles like a go cart and can be parked almost anywhere.

Be prepared to get lots of attention and questions everywhere when you drive it - I have never had a car that has garnered so much attention as the MINI.

So what color car are you thinking about? That’s the hardest part, along with configuring options/stripes/wheels and so forth. Mine is hyper blue with the black roof & bonnet stripes.

I’m glad to hear that you both love your MINIs. My wife and I are really phsyched about getting one.

I am thinking of getting the Chilli Pepper red with a Union Jack (British flag) on the roof. I am not sure what other options we would get but from the short test drives we did, I preferred the 5 speed manual Cooper so that is where we would start. I definitely want the controls on the steering wheel, they are cool.

I can’t give you any direct owner-knowledge of specific models, but my sister and partner, definite London-based DINKs, make serious use of their Mini. Including plenty of strapping mountain bikes to the roof (with proper mountings!) and heading off to the Scottish Highlands. And I’ve heard no complaints about the difficulties of carrying four people, beyond anything you’d expect with any compact car.

My older brother used to have a Mini and I don’t remember thinking it was particularly short on space in the backseat. All in all, I found the car to be very comfortable and fun to drive.

Lillith Fair owns a Mini, but since she’s out of town for a while, I’ll answer for her as best I can.
She loves it.

As you know from your test drive, it’s a lot roomier inside than you would think.

The only major problem she has had she talked about on here…searching will find it…I still can’t figure out how to link to another post. But she had to have the engine replaced when she drove through a deep puddle during a torrential rainstorm that flooded a street she turned into. She really couldn’t avoid the deep water, and it wasn’t all that deep…maybe 6 inches? So if driving through standing water is common in your area, it could be a concern. Other than that one incient, she loves that car.

Guess I’ll be the dissenting voice, then. My brother had a Mini for about six months, which might tell you something. It was fun to drive, and reasonably quick. I suspect it will have reasonably good resale. Space-wise, it was fine. Way bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. But:

-Limited dealer network means it’s hard to shop around
-Difficult to work on if you do maintenance yourself
-Expensive to work on if you pay other people to do this

I’ve said this before, and I will probably say it again. People buying Minis have experience owning other ~$20K cars. Your ownership experience will not be like owning a Honda Civic, and it will not be like owning your Forester. It will be like owning a BMW, with the attendant maintenance expense issues.

Have you looked into a nice Forester XT?

My friend and her husband have twin minis. Can you stand it? She loves it, and so do I (we go out in it every once in a while). I find it roomy and fast enough and just way too cool. She absolutely wouldn’t drive anything else.

They have good incomes, so cost to maintain probably wouldn’t hurt them as much as it might hurt someone else.

I’ve heard nothing bad about the new minis, but you may want to look at a few other choices like the Miata, or the Honda S2000 as a pair of DINKs you can probably afford these sportier cars. After all the mini isn’t really at all British these days. You could save up for a used Lotus Elise, but I hear they are too uncomfortable for all but the most hard core fans.

I have a MINI ragtop. Black with white stripes. So I don’t have exactly what you are looking for, but my opinion:

You can cram a lot of stuff into a MINI if you pack it well. People love to watch us when we load up after hitting Costco. It’s amazing what you can fit in there.

They are also remarkably sturdy little machines. My prior cars were a Honda Accord and a 3-series BMW. The MINI definitely skews closer to the BMW in terms of hardiness. The door thunks when you close it, and I feel much safer driving in torrential downpours and such (it just sticks to the road). Also, it does surprisingly well in snow and other adverse conditions, even with runflat tires. The low wheelbase, I suppose. I love it.

Do not underestimate, as previously stated, the remarks you’ll receive when driving it. People will want to race you, and old folks and children will often try to fondle your car when you’re not looking. This is sometimes fun, and sometimes terrible. Like when you’re in a bad mood and just want to get home and everyone and his brother is bursting with questions about it.

If you do get one-- have fun! And wave at other MINI drivers gleefully!

No matter what it is, buy a car you love. We spend a massive amount of time in our cars; there’s no sense in one’s car being a sort of automotive hairshirt.

Thanks for all the responses.

I think our minds are made up. We just need to crunch the numbers to see when we can afford to buy one.

I am really looking forward to it because it was great to test drive them last weekend (I want to go back again just to test drive one some more).

Those of you who have BMW Minis:

What is your actual average fuel mileage (and in what kind of driving)?

I’ve heard the BMW Minis are placarded for prmium fuel only. Do you use premium, or do you cheat and use a lower grade? If you use a lower grade, what is the effect?

There are a number of previous threads on Minis, but this had the most responses. My wife still loves hers after several years. Good Luck!

I have the ‘S’ supercharged model, the base Cooper would have better numbers. I get around 25 MPG. I do not drive like a granny - I get on it. I drive it like the go-cart it is. I like to hear the supercharger whine, and going fast around corners (yet safely, within the lines and such) is a thrill. This is a mix of highway/town driving.

I only use premium fuel. It is a little more expensive, yet it only adds 2-3 bucks to the overall fill costs. Worth in IMO.

As I understand it, vehicles over 25 years old are exempt from EPA and crashworthiness standards. So the newest original Mini available for import without these restrictions would be a 1981 model. Is anyone modifying later models (the original Mini was in production until 2000) for import to the U.S.? The last original ones were made under the aucpises of BMW, right?

My wife averages 24.something in her regular Cooper (so sayeth the Nav computer). She drives it hard, and takes surface streets to work.
When I drive it for prolonged periods, I average a little over 28, as I’m a little lighter on the pedal and drive more on the freeway. (When I drove to LA in less than 5 hours, though, I didn’t average so high.)
We always put in the premium.