MINI Cooper 60 Years Edition Review

The good, the quirks, and the verdict. The novelty of a new car has worn off and I've made up my mind about owning and driving a MINI Cooper.

So, the MINI has been in the garage for almost a year now, and I do mean it’s been in the garage, you want to know what the mileage is after a year? No more than 1,500km. I wasn’t using it much to go to the office because honestly why would I? My daily driver Pajero Sport is perfectly fine, I feel weird about driving such an expensive car to the office anyway, and most of the time I don’t find the need nor the desire to drive the MINI that much, especially with the pandemic and the quarantine going on, I just haven’t been going out that often anymore. That being said, I have been a able to make up my mind to tell you how I truly feel about the car and bring my final verdict, and there are some quirks about the car I’d like to mention:

You can also check my earlier reviews of the MINI on my blog.

Driving Dynamics: Bipolarity Is Good .

"The comfortable interior, along with the features made the MINI more than bearable to drive on a day-to-day basis."

"The comfortable interior, along with the features made the MINI more than bearable to drive on a day-to-day basis."

Have you read my first article on the MINI? Well, if you haven’t you can read it here. Anyway, shameless plug aside, the gist of it was that I take issue with the MINI’s very well-equipped and well-built interior with the rather conflicting stiff ride profile. The MINI felt luxurious on the inside but the stiff ride somewhat ruins that feeling of luxury, it felt no more comfortable than your typical cheap Japanese hatchback and it gave the MINI a somewhat conflicting personality. This was my main issue when I first drove the facelifted MINI Cooper S a couple of years back for Speed Creed, and I wish that it was just slightly more comfortable.

However, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the ride is stiffer than my neck after a long day at the office and made the MINI feel somewhat cheap, but the comfortable interior, along with the amenities made the MINI more than bearable to drive on a day-to-day basis. The seats are comfy – although if I’m being honest I kind of want their semi-bucket seats fitted in right now – and yet it still grips well during hard cornering, the interior has a very nice and luxurious finish, not to mention the entertainment center is more than enough for most people.

In conclusion, yes, the MINI still has a somewhat conflicting personality in my eyes, but that luxurious interior is almost faultless and makes it up for the uncomfortable ride. It’s a backroad muncher when you want it to be, but it can still be a relatively comfortable cruiser when you need it. To be honest there are worse cars to be stuck in during a traffic jam.

Anyway, I’ve come to terms with the MINI’s dual personality, and a car that is bipolar isn’t necessarily bad. Especially if it’s a car you’d like to use daily.

Driving Dynamics: The Handling Is Where It (Obviously) Shines.

I think it’s no surprise when I say that its handling is the best feature of the MINI, and no surprise either when I say it shines when you’re going through a back road that has more corners than a hexagon. But only recently I’ve come to truly appreciate just how good the MINI’s handling is.

I normally prefer rear-wheel drive cars, I don’t know why but I prefer the feel that they provide; the slightly lighter-feeling front-end, the rear-end ready to go crazy at any time, and I guess they are more fun and somewhat challenging at the limit.

However, the MINI is so planted and the steering is so good that I’ve come to love it and found a new appreciation for front-wheel drive cars. You really have to drive it on a track or a tight winding road with lots of tricky corners to appreciate just how good the handling is. It stays planted no matter what, the steering feels direct and gives you a clear idea of what the front wheels are doing, as if your hands were touching the ground themselves. Okay, that sounds painfully awful, but you get what I mean.

The MINI is also excellent and high-speed overtaking and zig-zagging in highway traffic, no matter what speed you’re at it can change lane quickly and is as graceful as a ballerina, within the laws of physics, of course. Which is about 120km/h.

I’m not condoning zig-zagging and reckless driving, please drive safely on public roads, but the fact the MINI can do this effortlessly is reassuring should you need to swerve out of an emergency situation, and of course it boosts your confidence at the race track as well that the car can effortlessly corner so you won’t make a complete fool of yourself.

In summary, the amazing grip, the direct-feeling steering – which also has a nice weight to it by the way – and combined with that excellent drivetrain, makes the MINI one hell of a fun car. I can safely say that spirit of the original Mini Cooper still lives on, in spite of it getting bigger and fatter.

Oh, one more thing, I complained that the steering wheel is a bit too light on Green and Mid driving mode when you’re driving on the highway and makes the car feel jittery at high speeds, but honestly I don’t even notice this anymore after a while, so it’s fine, although I still tend to put the car in Sport every time I get on to a highway.

Quirks: Wireless Charging.

First of all, I’m not sure if I should call it ‘quirks’, as this is about the small features you get in the MINI that people often overlook, but for lack of a better word let’s stick with quirks. The first one I’d like to mention is the wireless charging pad inside the center console, which I only found out in January 2020 since that’s when I finally bought my iPhone 11 and it’s my first phone with wireless charging capability.

The center console is ridiculously small, and yes, that photo above shows all the space you get, which is not that big of a surprise considering the MINI’s somewhat cramped interior. That being said, it’s a pretty good use of space, since the MINI doesn’t really have anywhere else where you can put your phone, so putting it in there and being able to charge it at the same time is a good idea, makes you less of a terrible driver as well since it means you can’t text, unless you have a second phone, that is. Don't text and drive, kids.

It does however get a bit hot after about 30 minutes of charging, so you might want to keep that in mind, but it’s pretty nice that I can charge my phone during a drive without the need for any cables.

Quirks: MINI Connected. Absolute Rubbish.

To be honest I haven’t really fiddled around with the MINI Connected app on iOS, but it seems to be able to track your journey, as well as send other data to your phone such as its range and fuel level, which is pretty handy I guess if you want to decide whether or not you should refuel before starting your journey.

Connecting your phone with the MINI also seems to enable some features in the car’s entertainment center such as Forcemeter – yes, a meter to see the g-force you’re pulling because why not – and a “Sports instrument” which basically shows the amount of power and torque you’re using at any given moment. Kind of useless to be honest, but good to know I made 69lb-ft of torque on that last rev. Nice.

The recorded journey is something I haven’t been able to use, probably because my MINI Cooper doesn’t come with GPS connectivity (a Cooper S should though), but to be honest I can’t think of a scenario where this feature would be useful. Unless you’re thinking your significant other is cheating on you then I guess this is a pretty handy feature to see whether they’ve really been going to the grocery store or to some dude’s apartment instead. Provided you have GPS in your MINI, that is.

Anyway, it's not terrible, but it's not particularly useful either. Don't bother, just save the space on your phone for Fruit Ninja or something.

Quirks: Touch Sensitive Radio Preset.

Much like other BMWs, the MINI still has those radio preset buttons on the dash, and while on the face of it there isn’t anything special, the buttons seem to be touch sensitive and can detect when you put your finger on it. So, without actually pressing the button, the screen will then show what radio that’s been saved to that preset on the upper left side, which is a really small touch but I find it very nice to have.

So for example if you’re listening to 103.8MHz and you want to change it to 102.2MHz because it’s time to tune in to your favorite radio show, you can touch the button to see the preview if it’s the right preset button, and then you press it, instead of pressing the buttons one by one until you find the right station.

Yes, this isn’t a big deal, and yes, I don’t even listen to the radio all that often anymore, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless and it’s small touches like this that I really appreciate in an expensive car. Even if I use it like once a month, at best. As they say, the devil is in the details. Or in the radio presets?

"But Fizh, how about reliability? "

How about reliability, you ask? Well, imaginary reader that I've made up, I can't really say anything about reliability since I've only driven the MINI for about 1,300km at this point. But it does seem everything is working fine, both mechanically and electronically, so if anything pops up – hopefully no – I'll let you guys know.

There was however this drivetrain warning light that popped up a while back, the cause of it was a hole in the radiator pipe (photo above), you can read about the whole thing and my experience visiting the dealership to get things fixed here. Spoiler: it wasn't covered by the warranty service package so I had to pay for the replacement part.

MINI Cooper 60 Years Edition: The Verdict.

I was VERY conflicted when I first drove the F-series MINIs; the interior has gotten so luxurious and well-equipped that it feels like a compact German saloon – reminder, it is priced like one in Indonesia – but then the ride is so stiff and uncomfortable that I genuinely prefer to drive my Pajero Sport on a day-to-day basis.

Even after driving it for a while, I still had my reservations about the Cooper, even though I was starting to like it, I wasn’t sure if I actually liked it or it was the novelty of driving a new car. However, I can now safely say, yes, I like the MINI, and it’s worth your money. Yes, even in Indonesian prices, which is around 700million IDR, or roughly $47,000 or £41,000.

As long as you don’t need a big car to carry lots of stuffs, or a lot of seats to accommodate your friends and family, the MINI is worth it, and it can be your daily car. Not to say that most sports car can’t be daily driven these days, but the MINI is definitely a car that I wouldn’t mind daily driving.

You get all the equipment that you might need in a 700million+ IDR car – except for electric seats – the ride is comfortable enough most of the time, and it’s so much fun to drive even on mundane roads that it makes up for its flaws. Also, it has the dimensions of any other hatchback, so it doesn’t feel intimidating to drive on Jakarta’s roads.

I also had a ride in my friend’s Toyota GT86 a while back and it reminded me that the MINI’s competitors, such as the GT86, the Scirocco, and the MX-5 amongst others, probably don’t have quite the same level of build quality.

If you’re looking at the secondhand market, there will be cars that offers better bang for your buck, the A45 AMG for example comes to mind, but if you’re looking to buy brand new, then the MINI is a perfect all-rounder as far as I’m concerned, whether it’s the Cooper or the Cooper S.

Now, how about that 60 Years Edition part? How do I feel about that? Well, as I’ve mentioned in my first review, I don’t care for these “special edition” cars, they’re mostly just the standard car with superficial cosmetic upgrades such as wheels, stickers, seats, and a few plaques here and there. The drivetrain, the suspension, or anything else that might affect the driving experience is untouched.

However, if you have no plans on modifying your car for whatever reason, then these special editions can be quite intriguing, my advice is that if you’re planning to buy whatever special edition MINI is coming in the future, buy one that has at least unique paints, seats, wheels, and steering wheel, these are the parts you normally won’t be able to fit yourself to the “standard car”, and it’s enough cosmetic changes to make your MINI look and feel special. One more thing: don’t expect these special editions to hold its value better than the standard cars, as most special editions don’t really mean anything even to the most die-hard MINI enthusiasts – in Indonesia, at least – and as we all know, there has to be a demand for the car in the secondhand market in order for it to hold its value.

So, this is all basically a long and very elaborate way in saying: I love the MINI Cooper. I have made peace with the MINI's dual personality and have come to love it.

While my thoughts on the MINI has been summarized, I will continue to update on if anything noteworthy happens, such as reliability, after-sales experience, etc.

All photos are taken by me unless stated otherwise. Please contact me should you want to use my photos for commercial purposes, or credit me for personal uses.

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