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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I had 2 test drives today, Mini Cooper S and a Mercedes A250 AMG Engineered. 2 hours in each one.
Decided to test my route to and from work, in both cars (40 mins each way). The conclusion is not what I expected or hoped for.
I found that the ride in the Mini got harder the longer I was in it and after the 2 hours, glad to get out. The wheels were 18" Cone spoke.
The salesman said it might be a bit better with smaller wheels and possibly non-run flats, but didn't think by much. I mentioned that variable dampers and he said they only made the standard suspension (the one I tested) harder, so wouldn't improve it. Also found the sports seats, leather cross punch, quite hard after 30 mins. I was starting to fidget and constantly moving around to get comfortable. The road noise, I assume from the run flats, was dreadful.
Loved the gadgets, view from the front / sides, handling and speed.


The Mercedes was very comfortable, handling very good and felt faster than the Mini, both rated at 0-62mph in 6.6 / 6.5secs.
The things I didn't like were the blind spot visibility from the B-pillar, the iPad style screen (very bad interface), far less gadgets and the price.


I test drove the Cooper S in September and didn't notice any of these concerns, but it was only a 10 minute drive.


So after 8 months of building my Mini spec, refining the build from £21k to £25,500..... it's all for nothing. I know it sounds stupid, but I am gutted. I was only testing the Merc as a comparison for speed and handling, never expected this.


Should I test the Cooper S with 17" and non run flats to see if it is better or just resign myself to the fact that I like comfortable, boring cars?
 

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18"s will greatly affect the ride. I specifically didn't get 18"s because I thought they rode too stiff. 16"s will give you the best ride, and 17"s are a good compromise in looks/ride quality. While the new generation run-flats they use now are better than what I had on my Countryman, they will still ride harsher and have more road noise than non-RFs. Also, note that it is not possible to get non-runflats on the Cooper S from the factory.

Your dealer is slightly misinformed about the dynamic dampers... The shocks ride at 10% softer than the stock suspension on MID/GREEN modes and 10% stiffer in SPORT.

The seats are pretty subjective, but like most leather upholstery, it will break in over time and get a little more supple. I had standard seats with leatherette on my Countryman and the Cross Punch Leather on my F55 and thought they were a little comfortable at first. Now, I really like them and love the bolstering. With my HUD, it makes me feel like I'm in a fighter jet cockpit!

Obviously, the Merc will pretty much always be a more comfortable ride (it IS a Mercedes, after all), but it sure won't drive like a MINI... I think you should try test driving a Cooper S with 17"s or smaller. That alone will make a big difference.
 
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I thought you could get standard tyres on the S. The stock setup on the Cooper is non-run flats with the glue emergency kit.
 

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I ordered the 18s on my JCW, but only test drove an S & JCW with 17s on the JCW & also the S - I think....may have been 16s. Anyway both were runflats and the ride was absolutely fine! If the ride on my 18s isnt to my liking I'll simply swap to non-rf's! Wheel diameter really shouldnt make the ride that much stiffer imo.
 

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I thought you could get standard tyres on the S. The stock setup on the Cooper is non-run flats with the glue emergency kit.
Ah, the in US they are not.

Cooper S: 16" wheels and run flats standard - no jack, no spare
Cooper: 15" wheels, compact spare, and jack standard. Run flats are an option
 

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I had test drive to explore purely the damper settings.

I drove 5 mins one way on a bumpy country lane on Hard and 5 mins back on Soft, the difference was very noticeable. I only needed those 10 minutes to decide and ticked the box.

Sport felt hard, percussive and felt more tram-liney (so you are fighting country lane camber to stay out of the ditch).

Normal/Eco felt like a firm car, and reduced the noise in the cabin.

I would recommend DDC (damper control) for UK mixed roads driving. Sport is nice in smooth urbanised (smooth) locations, and I think it's just kinda wise to have the softer setting for crappy pothole country roads - you can uncouple the DDC from the engine settings in Sport mode, keeping punchy throttle with softer ride.

My dealer said her colleague had forgotten to spec damper control on his latest car, and he wouldn't shut up about it not being there...


Oh, also I made sure to my dealer NO RUN FLATS. I went with 17" wheels to be mid between good looks and not ridiculous pain and suffering of 18" wheels for UK road use.
 

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I have the 17" with run flats. Lounge leather seats. The seats are the most comfortable I've experienced in a long time and the ride with the 17"s is much better than my 2002 WRX. I've owned two E class Mercedes and they were outstanding highway vehicles, but no where's near the fun that my Mini is.

I'm about to take a 1,000 round trip over Memorial Day weekend. I'll soon learn whether the seats are as comfortable after several hours in them rather than just around town.
 

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Yes the bigger the wheel the thinner the sidewall the generally harder the ride. Run flats have harder sidewalls so they can ....Run flat. I love my ride. Cooper with non run flats. Very quiet and refined. Hate run flats for the very reason slated. Harsh.
 

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Should I test the Cooper S with 17" and non run flats to see if it is better or just resign myself to the fact that I like comfortable, boring cars?
To summarize, you definitely SHOULD retest the Cooper S with 17" wheels and non run flats or 16" wheels and run flats - whichever you can find on your dealer's lot. They should be close in terms of the stiffness of the ride.
 
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Doesn't exactly read well....
In fairness to the Merc this does read like a Clarkson review. 'Fabulous car...but it needs more POWER...and it's too quiet.'

That said...of course I would buy the BMW M135i instead. Oh wait...*I* can't buy EITHER of them. German car companies don't think Americans want to buy fun cars.
 
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Of course it will as there is less tyre side wall therefore more of a harder ride.
What Jeremy said!...absolutely right on! It's the run flats not the tire thickness alone. Is an aspect ratio of 40 less tire "padding" than an as of 45 or 50, sure..but does that automatically mean "rougher ride"?...No way! I have non-run flat tires on another car with an aspect ratio of 40 and it's incredibly smooth and it's very much a performance car.

Fear of a firm ride is not going to dissuade me from going with the 18" Cup Spoke Wheels..not gonna happen.

Now, like I said, if my run flats are terrible ride-wise, I'll replace them. I'll yank them off the car faster than you can say "MINI"! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you all for your replies.
I will arrange another test drive with the Variable Dampers, 17" wheels non run-flats. Hopefully they have a car with all of the above.
I will let you know the verdict :D.
 

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i had a test in the A class as well, lovely caR & great auto box but the thing that put me off compared to the mini was the low res displays & that terrible bolted on central screen that i knew would drive me mad
 

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In my opinion you cannot compare the A class to the Mini. It is two very different cars...

Would rather compare the A Class to a Golf or a BMW 1 series...

I did test drive the A Class when it entered the market, but quickly removed it from my list, since the feel of the car does not really meet the price tag... Oh yes it has a proper well functioning double clutch automatic, but then again I can live with manual...

And I really do not like the cheep tablet like screen they have smacked on the dashboard. Seems like something the designer had completely forgotten, and the factory workers had to come up with some easy solution before the first car rolled of the line :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
When i decided i was going to buy something a little different, the Mini came to mind because of it's looks, handling and speed. Now that my finances are clear, i thought it best to see what else is available based on looks, speed and handling.

What are the Mini's rivals? I didn't know, so looked at every car manufacturer and came down to what i liked. Audi A3 Quattro, VW Scirocco, Toyota GT86, Mercedes A250, BMW 2 Series 228.
I visited all of the dealerships and after sitting in and playing around with the cars got down to the Merc and Mini.

The Tablet on the A class is the only thing i dislike about the car.... verging on hatred. Everything else i like, apart from the lack of gadgets and price.
 

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Interesting thread this one...

Here is a little ramble with my findings.....I went to look at the new Merc A class when it was launched, at the time i was driving a MK6 Golf Cab and the interior build quality felt cheap in comparison e.g. flimsy dashboard & trim, the nasty tablet etc..

Move on a few years and was looking for a 5 door car that was not a Golf (or a copy of one), short list of MINI F55 and BMW 1 series, by chance though we ended up at Merc World where my son (aged 12) was having a driving lesson in an A class....my view was that its a nice car but still felt the interior build isn't as good as other cars we'd seen (costing less money) and the visibility is poor.

We of course ended up with a MINI F55 - it runs on 17" Alloys with normal tyres, we don't have the damper control option but the ride is great (to us).

It sounds like you prefer a slightly more comfortable ride so def organise a test drive of the car that has the options you are potentially going to buy and then you can make an informed choice. To balance things out I'm sure if you go to a Merc forum you'll find a similar response in support of the Merc :)

I researched every car for our specific requirements for 6 months before committing to the MINI...and IMHO its a bit of a bargain amongst the many Euro / Korean / Japanese clones out there.

Good luck with your decision !
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update:
I revisited the dealership (Sytner, Nottingham) and test drove a car with 17", non-runflats (no cars with Variable damper) and found it smoother and quieter, Woooohoo :D
Btw: The sales guy was still adamant about the standard suspension being the same as the VD in eco / mid. Oh well, if he wants to stay ignorant.... ;)

So, i decided to find out how much my spec would come to on a monthly basis.
They offered me £500 less than other garages for my car and wouldn't reduce the overall price of the vehicle. With a £6k deposit, they wanted £365 per month. £3,900 interest on 5.9%APR.

We went to another dealership (Stratsone, Derby), who couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful. Somehow, based on the same spec, same deposit, gave a discount of £1,350 and payments dropped to £289 per month. £2,500 interest on 5.9%APR (math not right from Sytner, which i questioned).

So........ I ordered it for 1st of September delivery >:D

  • Mini Cooper S, 3 door Hatch
  • Chilli Red
  • Cloth/Leatherette Black Pearl
  • Mini Sports Interior / Exterior
  • 17" Track Spoke Wheels in Black
  • Mini yours Fibre Alloy
  • Media Pack XL
  • Variable Damper :x
  • Heated front screen
  • Black roof and mirror caps
  • Panoramic roof
  • Armrest
  • Seat Heating
  • Colour line - Shadow Grey
  • Head-up Display
  • TLC
That has been an interesting 8 months researching, saving, driving and the headaches toward the end. Hopefully i can now switch off and enjoy the run up to the day i pick it up.
 
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