I picked up my F56 MCS manual on Saturday and thought that I would set out my observations of the car so far after 400 miles. Scroll down for photos!
The front of the F56 is bigger and it is noticeable. However the nose doesn’t seem out of proportion when not side by side with previous models, but the MCS brake ducts do protrude slightly.
The LED headlights are fantastic. They throw the light far: to the point that other drivers have flashed me because they think they’re on full beam, but I don’t think they’re necessarily blinding to others. Under the bonnet/hood the LED headlights also have their own heat sinks and cooling fans!
If you drive at 70mph for 10 seconds or more, or drive at 86mph or faster then they automatically throw the light further (I have the adaptive/cornering lights version).
A real surprise is that the exterior door handles illuminate in the dark but I’m not sure which packs/equipment provide that. However I do feel that it’s a shame that the indicators are normal bulbs given that rest of the lights (rear clusters included) are LED.
Engine, steering, transmission and suspension
The engine will not disappoint; it delivers real surge down below and feels fast without going above 4,000rpm. I’m sure that it’s one of those engines that will benefit from shorter shifts at 5,500rpm, clearly it won’t deliver its power in a VTEC type fashion.
I’m not sure that the throttle feels that much more sensitive in sport mode, but sport mode does make a big difference to the sound and steering feel. You won’t be disappointed by the pops on overrun. I haven’t tried but I suspect the turbo’s overboost will only be enabled in sport mode.
The rev match feature works well and is good fun down changing into second when approaching roundabouts. It feels that on the move that it would be difficult to make an unsmooth gear change.
The adaptive suspension makes a slight difference: sport mode is hard (I’m on 17” alloys on non-runflats) and makes the car feel quite nimble around corners at speed if a little unnerving (in a good way); mid-mode and green mode are slightly more comfortable (on a good road surface then very comfortable) and perhaps the car feels more firmly planted at speed. I understand that the Cooper is a softer ride anyway.
Fuel economy: I managed 60mpg (UK gallons) earlier today, see photo, which I believe translates to 50mpg (US gallons). This was using cruise control in green mode, averaging between 50mph and 60mph. This is fantastic for an MCS, but around town I have also seen averages of less than 30mpg/25mpg, so you won’t get this if you’re driving in traffic.
Quality and cabin materials
As everyone says it is a step up in quality. I can highly recommend the dark cottonwood interior, it looks and feels fantastic and wouldn’t seem out of place in a 7-series. I’ve got the cloth/leather seats and the leather is good quality, and the cloth with the tartan pattern feels nice but the remainder of the cloth feels like that in the R56, which is okay but it could be better. I don’t regret choosing them but do seriously consider the leatherette option which is at the same price point – overall I suspect they feel slightly better.
Entertainment and information displays
I think that the heads up display is fantastic and it is highly recommended. I’m using it constantly for the speed and sat nav directions rather than the other displays. The HUD and the adaptive suspension are the same price in the UK, and if you’re choosing between the two, then choose the HUD.
I’ve got the media XL package, which in the UK gives you the full 8.8” screen and it’s great. The touchpad controller works well (once you’ve learnt how to use it), but I’m not sure that’ll be drawing many letters onto it; using the voice control is much easier. The location of the armrest in relation to the controller is poor, but you can push the armrest out of the way.
A nice surprise is the fact the car can wirelessly access, control and play music from your smartphone using Bluetooth. I’m not sure if you need the extended Bluetooth for this but I’m not using any wires. My phone is a Samsung running Windows Phone 8.
I don’t have the Harman Kardan sound system but I don’t regret this. The standard system will be okay for many people, it does come with woofers under the front seats. Plenty of bass and treble is available, the weak point is the clarity of mid-range frequencies. At some point this week I’m going to use my work iPhone and an iPod alongside my Windows Phone to determine which device and at what bitrates deliver the best sound quality. I suspect that this last point is really important.
Being able to monitor tyre pressures real time is a novel feature and you also measure the oil level in the car at rest.
Don’t become fanatical about trying to get hold of the manual before getting the car, it doesn’t tell you that much about the car’s operating system/menus, which is probably what you want to learn about in advance – many instructions are built into the car’s screen.