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First, my apologies if this is covered in another thread (I'm sure it's highly likely) but I couldn't find it. If someone wants to point me in the right direction and delete this...but I'm driving a 2015 S 2 door hardtop with the "base" 16" wheels. What I really want is some better tires but would like a nicer looking wheel as well. My question is...why would I NOT stay with the 16" size? What is the advantage of going up to a 17" or 18" wheel? Is it just appearance?
 

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Current trends are towards bigger wheels but they are usually relating to appearance (as most prefer that look).

There are some advantages that big wheels can offer, one which is to clear larger brake calipers (not required for the Cooper S though).

Disadvantages of larger wheels is that they are heavier which can have a significant effect (unsprung weight) where it can make the car less responsive (acceleration/braking/economy). Another negative is that a lower profile tyre will offer less ride comfort.

I personally have 17" wheels on my MCS as I have the JCW brake kit which 16 does not fit and prefer this to having heavier bigger wheels.
 

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Probably 99% of the time up-sizing is done for appearance. Car and Driver did a good article a few years back on up-sizing, here is a LINK.
Basically they took a GTI and used 15 to 19" wheels with nearly identical tires to see what would happen to performance, grip, fuel economy and ride. They say nearly identical because the 15-, 16-, and 17-inch tires have a lower speed rating than the 18- and 19-inch tires.
 

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Just from personal experience, I've had a few loan cars with the 16s and I couldn't believe the difference from 17s.

For example I had a F56 Cooper D with 17" Cosmos, when that was back for one of its issues I had a F56 Cooper D with 16" Victory. There is a set of two round-a-bouts near Bredbury in Stockport and in my car with the 17s I could fly over the roundabouts at about 40 with no issues or understeer, however in the same car equipped with the 16s - the steering felt much lighter and as I went to turn at around the same speed the front wheels turned but I carried on going straight, severe understeer.

So for me although the economy would be better, ever so slightly, the grip of the 17s is far superior.
 

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Bigger wheels appearance!

Smaller wheels better ride!

Biggest thing to consider is the road quality where you are, where I am they aren't great in fact awful in places so I have 17" wheels, 18" with really low profile tyres would break my back I'm sure..

I did consider 16" but the kit I ordered came with 17" and would have cost more for 16"...

Another thing to consider is tyres, runflats or non runflats?
 
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