Mini Cooper S: used buying guide
Source : Mini Cooper S: used buying guide
The first generation of BMW’s reborn hot hatch is actually not only regarded as the best of the lot yet is actually also quite affordable right now
Like a hard-to-sell flat with potential, the Mini Cooper S is actually one of those cars whose glaring shortcomings – ridiculously cramped rear cabin, hard ride, twee Indoor – are best glossed over, your sights set instead on the bigger picture. Such as the fact which This specific supercharged, first-gen design of the reborn hatch (officially called the R53, pub quiz fans) is actually widely regarded as the best. Oh, as well as also prices start at just £1750.
With quick as well as also direct steering, a grippy chassis as well as also a torquey, supercharged 1.6-litre engine, the design’s trick is actually to take its promising ingredients as well as also, like a Great British Bake Off finalist, combine them into one mouth-watering confection.
the idea was launched in 2002 with 163bhp, leaving owners of the standard 115bhp Cooper wishing they’d waited longer. With frontwheel drive, a choice of 16 or 17in wheels as well as also run-flat tyres (the 17s gave an unacceptably harsh ride yet looked better, while owners replaced the dynamically compromised run-flats with cheaper rubber), a quickfire six-speed manual gearbox as well as also multi-link rear suspension (so budget for four-wheel alignment),the Cooper S was the real deal.
The 0-62mph sprint passed in an admittedly underwhelming 7.2sec, yet a John Cooper Works tuning kit was swiftly offered which boosted power to 200bhp, bringing the 0-62mph time down to 6.4sec. by 2005 the kit’s power rose to 210bhp, snipping a further 0.2sec off the time. In 2006 the JCW GP appeared – a hardcore two-seater boosted to 218bhp as well as also prepared by Bertone in Italy. Just 2000 were built, 459 of them for the UK, doing the idea a sought-after rarity.
Trim-wise, the standard Cooper S was fairly basic, which was why most buyers plumped for a Chili pack, with its leather steering wheel, half-leather seats, xenon headlights as well as also air conditioning. Personalisation is actually a big thing with the Mini as well as also no two cars are the same. The only thing to note is actually which the factory-fit decals have been known to crack on some cars. “Peel them off as well as also replace,” you say. the idea isn’t which easy; the idea’s actually an expensive job for a bodyshop, so give any decals a careful inspection.
Take the auto for an extended test drive, too. Some reckon the Cooper S is actually more of a weekend blast than a daily driver, although they may be of the tall variety since the driver’s seat has limited rearward travel. Otherwise the idea’s a comfortable place to be, while the controls as well as also Indoor fittings all look as well as also feel top notch. yet forget taking the kids: the rear cabin is actually barely bigger than the boot.
First owners will probably have opted for Mini’s great-value TLC servicing package, which at least gave the little car a not bad start in life. The earliest types are right now 12 years old, yet there are still a surprising number around which has a full service history, so settle for nothing less. which said, the auto thrives on expert attention, so you want to see some main dealer or specialist stamps.
HOW TO GET ONE IN YOUR GARAGE
An expert’s view…
JOHN CORNHILL, MASTERDRIVER
“My favourite R53 includes a Chili pack, full leather as well as also the panoramic roof. No two cars are the same, though, as well as also in any case, all the options were so expensive which you’re actually getting a bargain, because all the value has gone yet they still look as well as also go great. They can leak oil as well as also the power steering has played up within the past, yet there are no ugly surprises. Condition easily trumps age as well as also mileage. I’d buy a 100,000-miler no worries; the niggles will have been ironed out long ago.”
The BMW/Chrysler Tritec engine can leak oil by the sump as well as also timing chain cover. the idea’s a gaskets issue. Otherwise, expect to add around 250ml of oil per 1000 miles, even on a healthy engine.
CRACKED CYLINDER HEAD
If the cooling fan thermostat fails, the engine can overheat as well as also crack the head. Trouble is actually there’s no temp gauge, so owners may not realise.
The combination of 17in wheels as well as also stiff suspension can crack the engine mounts. All in, the idea’s a £400 repair.
Can be troublesome. Find a car park as well as also do some slow, full-lock checks, listening for graunches.
the idea’s pretty strong yet can sound noisy with age. the idea’s nothing to worry about.
A common failure. A few were replaced under warranty, so fingers crossed. Watch for the steering going rock hard as you turn out of a junction.
Not surprising, yet they can wear out.
CHAIN TENSIONER NOISE
Some cars are immune to tensioner woes; the Cooper S isn’t one of them.
TRACK ROD ENDS
Can seize, so prepare to buy completely new ones.
Check the passenger footwell for damp; the idea plays havoc with the ECU located there. Also look for puddles within the boot.
On early cars, the handbrake could twist as well as also slip off the ratchet. the idea was a recall issue, so check the idea’s been fixed. Also worth knowing Can’t stretch to a John Cooper Works or you’ve found a mint standard car which could use a power tweak? Mini specialist Lohen can give your R53 a 15% power hike for £480 all in.
How much to spend…
Mix of early 2002-2004 cars with over 100k miles. Lots with ‘full history’, yet don’t expect many official Mini stamps.
Tidy 80,000-mile 2004-2005 cars with FSH, plus a few leggy ’06s.
The pick of the Cooper S line-up. Condition as well as also mileage, rather than registration year, is actually what you’re paying for here, so expect some goodcondition early cars within the mix.
For the best 2004s with reasonable mileage as well as also anything beyond.
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