MINI R50 (2001-2007) : Buying guide

Welcome to the AROnline MINI R50 Buying Guide. Replacing the classic Mini should have been a tall order, but BMW managed the job in style in 2001 – and, as Keith Adams explains, they make a great modern classic purchase today.

Following BMW’s takeover of Rover in 1994, the Mini’s passage into the 21st century was guaranteed. The German company’s boss, Bernd Pischetsrieder, was a motoring Anglophile and, as he was also the nephew of Sir Alec Issigonis – the creator of the original Mini – any project to build a new one had an inside track. As it was, Rover (and BL before it) had several goes at replacing the iconic original, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the project gained the impetus it needed.

The first pre-production, new-era Mini was seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the production version appeared, making its début at the Paris Motor Show three years later. During that time, BMW had dropped Land Rover, MG and Rover from its portfolio of British marques, selling the former to Ford, and leaving the latter two to fend for themselves under the auspices of a home-grown management consortium known as Phoenix.

As for MINI, BMW knew its worth, and that wasn’t going anywhere. Despite the complexity of logistics, production was shifted to Oxford (the Germans had spent a fortune refitting the factory), and a new German-owned era of MINI manufacture begun.

MINI R50: What you get

Unsurprisingly, with the cachet of the MINI badge, allied to (what was by then) BMW ownership, the new car proved an immediate hit when it went on sale in July 2001. Cars flew out of the dealerships, and residuals were tip-top. At the beginning of its life, the MINI achieved unrivalled residuals, with anything up to year-old cars changing hands for new-car list. But was all that excitement really justified?

One thing is certain, no new MINI was ever going to be the quantum leap in technology that the original ‘classic’ Mini of 1959 was. The much larger car that Rover and BMW came up with for 2000 was conventional in many ways, but engineered for sportiness and agility, where passenger accommodation was of secondary concern – in contrast to the original car, which was designed to offer the maximum amount of interior space for the smallest exterior package.

Considering Rover’s form in the sector, it is perhaps of relief to current MINI owners that the K-Series power unit was cast aside for the new car. Although it was light and efficient, and the well-documented headgasket weakness was yet to come to light, the all-aluminium Longbridge-built twin-cam wasn’t an easy fit under the MINI’s low slung bonnet. Instead, a new engine, known as the Tritec (or Pentagon, if you’re a Chrysler fan), was created in a joint venture between Chrysler and BMW – and, although its specification looked like a retrograde step over the K-Series, it proved to be more than willing enough.

MINI R50 engine line-up

As far as the British market went, the Tritec was only ever offered in 1.6-litre form (a 1.4-litre was available in Greece and Portugal). For the MINI One, it developed 90bhp, while in the Cooper versions, that was increased to 115bhp. However, the Cooper S used an Eaton M45 supercharger to put out a cool 163bhp (later upgunned to 170bhp), and seduced anyone who went for a test drive, with its characteristic whine under full-bore acceleration. All versions were sohc with a 16V cylinder head, and met the Euro III emissions standard.

The initial gearbox line-up was conventional, too – Rover-derived R65 five-speed gearboxes (described by MINI people as the Midlands gearbox) for the One and Cooper, and a Getrag six-speeder for the Cooper S. A CVT auto was also offered, but proved unpopular.

Underneath its retro-styled body, the suspension set-up was cutting edge. At the front, MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar were the order of the day, but at the rear, a costly and space consuming multi-link Z-axle set-up was fitted. The handling was predictably brilliant as a result, even if it was a lavish system for a car at this price point – no doubt a contributing factor to the fact that BMW failed to make money on these early cars.

Is the MINI R50 reliable? Common faults and problems

MINIs have always been offered with exemplary dealer backup. From the beginning, you could buy your car with the £100 TLC package, a five-year or 50,000 mile servicing menu, which simplified running one of these cars. This is now ancient history, of course, so finding a badly serviced or abused MINI isn’t exactly difficult. However, despite all that, there are still cherished examples out there, especially now the earlier cars are becoming classics.

What should you look for inside?

The MINI does suffer from a number of faults. Firstly, check the interior closely. Dashboard rattles and faulty fuel gauges aren’t uncommon, while broken or non-reclining seats are an issue. The rear seats are cramped, and that could mean scuff marks on the backs of the front seats, as well as worn front seat tipper mechanisms.

Do the electrics work as they should?

The electrics are fragile on MINIs, and random warning lights and speedo failure can be the prelude to something rather bigger in the loom. The ABS pump wiring can short out on the pump bracket, leaving you with the unpleasant job of replacing the entire loom.

The central locking system is known to play up on early cars, so check that’s all in order too. Check that the electric windows and the central locking work, and that the panel of toggle switches is working as it should. If air-conditioning is fitted, does it blow cold? If not it could just need a simple re-gas, or more likely at this age, the pump could be failing – so don’t just fall for the ‘it needs a re-gas line’ from the seller.

What about warning lights?

These MINIs are also well known for electrical issues, so make sure everything works and watch for warning lights when you start it up. Pay particular attention to failing tyre pressure sensors (TPMS), which can cause the ABS and traction control lights to come on. Some cars may now be showing airbag warnings – but this is an easy fix through troubleshooting.

Things to check on the test drive

On the road, a MINI should feel tight and responsive, as well as really chuckable. However, do check that it doesn’t pull to the left, as that could signify that the front suspension turrets have been pushed out of alignment. If this has happened, the only way to fix the issue satisfactorily is on a jig.

When cornering, also listen out for suspension noises from behind, as rear wishbone on high mileage examples are known to fail. Closely listen to the gearbox, too – the earliest cars on R65 (‘Midland’) gearboxes can suffer from failure, and the first sign will be differential whine and poor change quality.

MINI R50 power steering issues

More worrisome is the EPAS system. A whine coming from the steering at parking speed is normal but, if it’s too noisy, the steering rack may be low on fluid. Also, if the wiring is corroded, it could well land you without steering assistance, facing you with a £750 bill to repair (pump replacement). It’s the same with the steering column, too, as upper bearings can wear out, although dealers may well sort this out on well-maintained cars as an act of goodwill.

Despite these faults, there’s lots to enjoy about owning a MINI, but just make sure you keep a close eye on it, and if you’re servicing it yourself, pay very close attention to the suspension and electrics. And then enjoy…

What’s it like inside?

Inside, the MINI was styled to resemble the original car. That meant a centrally-mounted speedometer and a pod-like rev counter mounted on the steering column.

The dash had the option of a body-coloured finish, while there were plenty of stowage areas for nick-nacks – again evoking memories of the original car. But quality was much higher, as to be expected… even if there were still aspects of its build that weren’t as tight as they should have been.

Check your options and build

Right from the beginning, the MINI was marketed as a premium product, and that meant premium pricing. Although the entry-level price point for the MINI One was low, a long options list and ungenerous standard equipment list meant that, in order to make the car habitable, the first owner would end up spending thousands. Keep this in mind today, when looking for a used MINI – as very few cars will have been specified identically.

The good news is that build and production records are easily extracted from BMW, so you should be able to cross reference the spec of the car you’re looking at against what came from the factory.

MINI R50 model and trim variations

MINI 2001-2007 wasn’t offered in many variations…

The MINI’s model line-up was always quite simple between 2001 and 2007. Entry-level models were served by the One, while more sporting customers could go for the Cooper and Cooper S models. With the arrival of the diesel model in 2003, the situation remained simple, with the oil-burner allying itself to the One trim level, while the Convertible model found itself on sale in Cooper and Cooper S form.

If this all seems rather simple, it’s because of BMW’s marketing approach of luring customers in with a low list price, and then offering them a long options list to bump up the desirability and price of their purchase. It was certainly a strategy that worked in the early days, although by December 2003, additional trim designations were drafted in to maintain levels of demand.

The Salt and Pepper packs for the MINI One, as they were known, brought many of the diverse options together. The fixed-price packages were much more simple to understand than the previous menu price list, and proved very popular indeed. Logically enough, Salt was the lowest price of the packages, adding in items that really should have been standard anyway, such as floormats, front fogs and a rev counter. With the £750 Pepper pack, you got alloys and an on-board computer.

The Cooper and Cooper S were similarly offered with these package options, but were extended to include the extra-hot Chilli option, which added more lavish wheel/tyre options and sports suspension. The Convertible model’s trim and package options followed the same pattern as the tin-tops, although the base price level was much higher, leaving potential owners with the possibility of spending well over £25,000 on their MINI.

Finally, there are the John Cooper Works models to consider. Although these were effectively conversions of existing cars, they were MINI approved and offered as part of the range through the dealer network. JCW cars could also be specced to a customer’s individual requirements, but generally came with the performance upgrade (power was boosted to 210bhp thanks to the fitment of a new supercharger and various other mods) and a more aggressive bodykit.

The ultimate version was the 2007 MINI Cooper S Works GP, of which 450 were sold in the UK. Finished by Bertone, individually numbered, rear seats removed, suspension further upgraded and upgraded to 218bhp, it’s fair to say you’ll struggle to find one of these cars for sensible money…

MINI R50 engine variations

In July 2003, the Toyota-powered MINI One D was introduced, massively expanding the appeal of the range. The new 75bhp power unit offered 65mpg plus economy for light-footed owners, and low tax thanks to its clean 117g/km emissions output – however, performance was more than adequate, with a 0-60mph time of 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 110mph.

The following year came the Convertible as well as a range-wide facelift. Although hard to spot, the 2005 Model Year changes were significant. The slightly revised frontal styling, and uplifted interior specifications denoted a change of transmissions: the troublesome M65 gearboxes were dropped from the line-up, replaced by five-speed Getrags for the MINI One and Cooper.

The Convertible model was also an important addition to the range, as sales of open-topped car in this sector remained strong. The MINI was fitted with a power-operated hood, which could be partially retracted to act as a sunroof for owners who wanted fresh-air without going al fresco. Sales of this model were brisk, despite being a costly option, some measure of the MINI’s success as a premium choice in the small car sector.

That was the basic line-up that served the MINI so well until it was replaced in May 2007, although there were special editions, which helped maintain demand – making it a million-seller in its lifetime.

Will the MINI R50 become a classic? Prices and values

Despite having been around since 2001, the MINI’s timeless style and cool image plays very much in its favour. What that means is you’re unlikely to find a bargain car out there unless you’re very lucky. Talking private sales, MINI Ones start at £1000 (unless it’s broken) and, for that money you’re looking at 100,000 plus miles on a 51-plate, with a few niggles to sort out. Y-plate cars are starting to rise in value, as people cotton on to their worth as early or ‘pre-production’ cars.

£1500 is perhaps the most realistic starting point for one of these cars – for this money you’ll get a 2001-2003 model with history and less than 100,000 miles on the clock, and a few years’ service ahead. For £2500, you’re into retail territory or a private car with plenty of options on it – but it’s well worth spending the extra, if you’re after peace of mind. Diesels are falling back, with £1800 being the entry point for a car worth having – think carefully, though, as petrol Ones are much better value, and currently little more expensive to fuel when economy is taken into account.

However, MINIs aren’t age dependent, and you’ll quite easily find 2001/2002 cars going for £2000-3000 if the mileage is low, or the equipment spec particularly enticing. So, it’s best to avoid thinking too much in terms of age or mileage – and consider condition as the primary price driver. Also, Y-registration cars are really collectable these days.

Interestingly, MINI Coopers don’t fetch a price premium over the Ones. Market conditions favour the vanilla cars, where often you will find that a cherished Cooper will actually be worth less than an equivalent entry-level model. Again, £2000-3000 is your optimum starting point unless you’re handy with a spanner set, and make sure that you get the specification you want, as there are plenty of cars to choose from.

As the Cooper S was launched a little later than the One and Cooper, the earliest cars come in on a 2002/52. This leaves your start point for a good example at around £2500 private, £3000 retail. Be careful that you choose a car that’s been left standard and hasn’t been thrashed too much. You’ll know the signs, but it is always good to check out a few cars before making a purchase.

As for the Convertible, these start at £3000, and the sky’s the limit. The market for these is softening so don’t pay a premium price…

Conclusion: Should you buy a MINI R50?

Yes, especially if you enjoy driving. MINIs remain hot property on the secondhand market now that they’re picking up interest from the classic fraternity. And with good reason – they are cool to look at, excellent to drive and have an urban chic image that’s hard to top.

For us, it’s the handling that makes MINIs such satisfying cars to own, with performance almost a secondary factor, making the One the car to have.

There are more than a few issues to take into consideration when looking for a car to buy, but if you’re careful and know what you’re looking for, buying and servicing your MINI should not cause you any heartaches. And that’s not bad considering the MINI remains one of the coolest cars you can buy – just take care out there.

Keith Adams


  1. The so-called new MINI might be a desirable and wonderful car, but I still think asking prices for older high mileage examples are not realistic. I wonder if MINI owners get offered the same crap part exchange values that the owners of other marques do? (despite having low mileage and ex condition cars)

  2. Check for:

    – shadowed outlines on the bodywork of old estate agent stickers

    Half-joke but half-serious too!

    I have honestly seen a mini where ” estate and letting agent” is still seen as a slightly different shade of paint from where the stickers were peeled off.

    Reminds me of the old Post Office / Parcel Force auctions of Freight Rover Sherpas / Leyland Dafs, at the campsites you could see the odd red van with “Parcel Force” shadowing in the paint!

  3. Ive thought many times about buying a new mini Second hand got close several times, but the “only 4 seat belts” is an issue. but the sales speak for themselves definittly a winner and a good investment. alex

  4. Advice about buying the increasingly affordable earlier R50/52/53 MINI’s is a very common request on the MINI forums these days, so this excellent write up will be very useful!

  5. Chrysler 1.6 engine is duff, though, particularly in Cooper trim (said Autocar). Glass’s puts a 2005 54 plate Cooper S with 60k at £3900, so £5k for a 2001 is very steep. So if you really want a late one get it at auction and spend £300 on a warranty.

    You can get an 08 plate Peugeot 207 1.6 Sport with 150bhp for less than a shagged out 2005 Mini Cooper.

  6. Save your cash and buy a Suzuki Swift instead, fun to drive, better standard equipment levels, more reliable and much cheaper.

    • The suzuki swift was and still is a poormans MINI !!!!
      And you wont get much for it when the time comes to sell it on,Remember in this world you only get what you pay for.Most car companies are trying to copy the MINI ie citroen,skoda,suzuki etc etc, But they all missed the boat
      If you want a cool car buy the Mini.

  7. I didn’t think the tritec engine was a ‘new’ engine. I thought they just lifted it out of a 1.6 Crysler Neon. Even the mini one came with pretty poor fuel economy, i seem to remember the figure being quoted at about 30ish mpg, my 20 year old 2.3ltr Volvo estate used to manage that on a run and that weighed nearly 2 tonnes and was about as aerodynamic as a brick with the corners chippped off!
    The Cooper S was even worse for economy, but to be fair you did get a lot of power out of it.

    As far the suzuki swift goes, yes standard equipment levels are better, but surely that’s irrelavent when buying a 10 year old used car, you simply steer clear of the poverty spec ones and buy one with the options on it for not much more.

  8. one thing that has always amused me though, BMW have always played on the mini being British, they sell them with a union jack roof as an option for example. But all the publicity shots show LHD cars with German plates….

  9. Quote below from the book ‘New MINI’ by Graham Robson:

    “Soon after buying Rover in 1994, BMW promised they would invest a lot more in new-model development than previous owners BAe had ever managed – at least £450 milion every year instead of £200 million. Much of that money, they told Rover management, would be allocated to the Mini.

    BMW it seems, had identified the Mini as a priceless brand – a brand to be rated at the same level as ‘Coca Cola’, ‘McDonalds’ and ‘Nike’ – and they were determined to revive it.

    ‘When they asked us about the Mini’ Chris Lee says, ‘they were pretty horrified when we (Rover) said that: ‘When we can’t keep it legal, we’re going to let it run down.’

    ‘We told BMW that we had never been able to make a business case for doing a new Mini – that the margins always looked tiny, and that we needed to make a lot of them to get all the scale benefits.’

    BMW immediately said: ‘We are prepared to fund an all-new small car platform. BMW, in fact, had taken a different view of the Mini from the day that they took control of the business: ‘When we had discussions with colleagues from Rover’ Torsten Muller-Oervoes recalls, ‘we said ‘we wanted to make a success of the Mini, they all said: ‘Why? Forget it….’ – they were not really interested in this little jewel. And it is a jewel – one which just needed to be polished up once again.

    ‘No one at Rover appeared to have a feeling for how valuable the Mini brand could be for them. There was no emotion there – emotion is the key essential for getting premium prices. You are only ready to pay the price if you get that certain gut feeling – I Want This Car And that’s the big difference, say, between a VW Polo and a MINI.’

    (or a Suzuki Swift, Peugeot 207 1.6 Sport……..!!)

  10. @ Dennis.
    Interesting comments there about the fuel economy. Similar figures to the MG6 and it is getting slated for it! Didn’t stop the MINI becoming an instant hit, so obviously it isn’t something the buying public have as high up their priority list as some seem to think…

  11. @ Martin

    Therefore, it seems that Rover shot themselves in the foot over the Mini, and ultimately got what they deserved? Very interesting, will need to hunt that book down.

  12. I have a friend who has a Mini Cooper which I ride in regularly. it has done just over 50k miles and is totally knackered. Fortunately, it’s a lease car and will be departing shortly. Main problems have been related to rattles, clunks and knocks from the suspension along with some dodgy electrics. The auto engine stop/start system is flaky and it often judders and splutters when re-starting hot.

    Fuel economy isn’t great either.

    Ok, it’s quick and goes well on the motorway but the rear seats are useless for adults and the over-styled interior I find downright unpleasant.

    Lets’s be honest, it bears as much resemblance to a “real” Issigonis mini as the modern VW Beetle does to Ferry Porsche’s original design i.e. just a nasty marketing ploy with minimal automotive innovation.

  13. @ Tony Evans
    By all accounts, the new Fiat 500 seems to be the only update that folk think is a step up from the original. But let’s be honest, that wouldn’t have been TOO hard

  14. I owned a 2005 Cooper convertible. What a horrible joke of a car. Nothing but one problem after another and it had that awful CVT transmission. I had the car about 8 months and had enough and got rid of the thing. Never again would I buy another. I also own a Rover Mini Cabriolet. What a wonderful automobile. The more I drive it the more I love it. The BMW one the more I drove it the more I hated it. It is a MINI by name only and can never even come close to the marvel the original is and always will be. I so wanted to like the BMW MINI but for all the problems I had with that car there is no love lost over it for me.

    • Do you have wellingtons on when driving the mini cabriolet ?
      Watch out for oil leaks,Rust, corrosion, water ingress, bad electrics and poor starting in the damp wet conditions,also check the rear subframes for rust and the sills and around the headlights are also prone to rust.
      I would highly recommend that you should go and have the whole car dipped in waxoyl or it wont last very long. Never use it in the winter or in the rain or the tin worm will get the little mini.

      • Sorry to inform you my Mini cabriolet is still doing GREAT. I never have any issues with it and it hasn’t rusted away. Thank God the BMW Mini is gone. It has to be the worst most unreliable car I have ever owned. I will NEVER get another, I had a Fiat Abarth for a while and that was very reliable. I think it was a much better car than the BMW Mini.

  15. “You can get an 08 plate Peugeot 207 1.6 Sport with 150bhp for less than a shagged out 2005 Mini Cooper.”

    That might be fine when you’re in it. But you still have to look at it when it’s parked on the drive…

  16. It’s like i’ve always said, most (not all) of the BMW Mini buyers buy them because they’re BMW’s. Yeah you can buy arguably better cars for the same money, but then they don’t have the same kudos in the car park at work do they.
    It’s much like people who buy Audi’s rather than a virtually identical Volkswagen.

  17. Talk to most owner’s of a ‘MINI’ and they say the build quality is shocking.If the 2001- Mini had a Proton badge would it still sell like the proverbial?
    Poor boxes,power steering,trim etc,etc.

  18. @ Howard
    I have a 2002 MINI (R50)and the build quality has been fine and is a joy to drive. Many of the more common problems seem to be with the Rover parts……like the original ‘Midland’ gearbox and EHPS steering pump. It was reported BMW delayed the original launch by several months for quality upgrades, once they knew it was to be sold alongside BMW showrooms rather than under Rover.

    The later Mk2 MINI’s (R55, R56 & R57) are much more BMW engineered cars with fully electric power steering, improved engines, Getrag gearboxes, more refined & economical but perhaps have a little less of the character and quirkiness of the original R50/53 MINI’s Rover DNA.

    The supercharged R53 Cooper S will without a doubt be a future classic!

    The highest recorded mileage on is 444,444 Miles for a 2002 MINI Cooper in the USA:

  19. Great article, as always!
    We had a lovely red 2004 facelifted One for 4 years & 78000 miles, and we miss it loads. It was my wife’s company car, so we chose it over a Polo, Clio, Golf, Focus etc as a small British built economical car that looked like it was going to be fun to own and drive. We didn’t care much for the ‘not a real Mini’ argument… my ’77 Clubman estate wasn’t a ‘real’ mini either!

    Importantly for the Mrs it’s solidity and feeling of being enclosed meant it was a small car that my wife felt totally safe and secure in on the motorway. It was a great tourer (for 2 people) and felt like a much bigger car on the open road. It let us down once with an ignition problem early on, and it did an easy 40mpg. Even with my heaviest boots on I couldn’t get less than 35mpg.

    You totally hit the nail on the head by saying that ‘it’s the handling that makes MINIs such satisfying cars to own, with performance almost a secondary factor’… so we never felt we had a lesser Mini with the One. I drove a Cooper on a track day once, and can honestly say that I couldn’t really tell much difference in performance, so if you’re looking for one of these, don’t be put off by the One’s 90bhp. With the Pepper pack it has pretty much everything you might need. We had the ‘double’ sunroof option too, which made it feel much more roomy & airy inside.
    Downsides… the glovebox is really badly designed, and the catch breaks easily. The doorbins are difficult to get things in and out of, because of the silly handle styling. For a 1.6 engine, 90bhp isn’t really that spectacular, and it’s not a light car… Our previous Polo had 100bhp from a 1.4. And the boot is a joke. We were really sad to see it go…

  20. The 90bhp 1.6 MINI One engine (R50/Mk1) only needs an easily reversible cheap ECU software upgrade to give the same BHP as the Cooper (or up to 126 BHP if required). The reason for this is the fact its simply a detuned version (restricted throttle opening) of the Mini Cooper with 115bhp as standard. With a simple 36bhp increase and 500rpm on the red line, this provides for some very entertaining extra performance from your One…..better used with the stronger Getrag gearbox fitted from mid-2004 though!

  21. “and it did an easy 40mpg. Even with my heaviest boots on I couldn’t get less than 35mpg.”
    Exactly, pretty terrible for a small car! I keep comparing them to my old Volvo estate, but that was like a small armoured bus, yet still managed the same sort of MPG. Petrol Clio’s etc of the period would manage 50mpg with similar performance to the mini one.
    40mpg is good if you compare it with a challenger tank or a mercedes actros, but compared to other super-minis of the period it’s well below average.
    I think the only real reason they chose the Tritec is because it was easy to get it through the US Federal regulations and perhaps in the US 40mpg from a Mini is considered quite reasonable, but compared to other european super-minis it certainly isn’t.
    BMW’s engineers obviously agreed, because the 2nd generation mini one came with a smaller 1.4 PSA engine, along with respectable economy.
    Just checked with my Brother in law, he has a 3.2ltr 250bhp, 4×4 automatic Golf R32, driven sensibly it will manage 35mpg….

    • The MINI was designed and built in a great hurry, they had to get something to sell in double-quick time, read the account by Alex Moulton, the Minky etc, the Frank Stephenson car from the BMW USA design studio was rolled out because it was the quick solution, simply a stopgap while they worked out a better model.

  22. @ Dennis
    The mpg I quoted was responding to your earlier claim that “Even the mini one came with pretty poor fuel economy, i seem to remember the figure being quoted at about 30ish mpg”. Most of our driving was motorway and in town, driving enthusiastically, so our mpg was most likely at the lower end of it’s potential On longer runs 45mpg was easy. I would say the fuel economy was ‘unspectacular’ rather than poor.

    I thought some real life experiences of the car might be of help to those considering running one. I think choosing a mini is more about ownership and driving experience over statistics. It’s changing though, especially for smaller cars, because as you say, obviously BMW saw fuel economy/emissions as it’s achilles heel judging by just how far they have moved the Mini on in 10 years.

  23. The Mini’s economy/emissions have indeed moved on a long way in ten years as well as becoming a range of small cars rather than just a single model, with several more in the pipeline. The much improved economy of the 1.6 diesel and 99g/km CO2 mean the Mini One D and Mini Cooper D are currently exempt from annual road tax under the UK system……also means London Mini D drivers are exempt from the Congestion Charge.

  24. As much as they aren’t my cup of tea, they have aged well for an 11 year old car.

    The only thing that lets the design down is that ‘broken’ grille that is cut by the bumper.

  25. The difference 5 months makes….

    Thanks for this, Keith. Having a list of model specific checks beyond the usual tyre kicking has came in useful recently….

  26. Went to look at a 2006 model that seemed to be a mk2 with the later grille.

    First impressions are that strangely, it reminded me of my GTV – the clamshell bonnet, the 2+2 seating arrangement, the rev happy engine, the FWD planted 4 wheel handling, the short shift gearbox and small chunky wheel.

    Checked for warning lights – all came on and all went out, and the power steering. No pull to the left. Later 6 speed box went up and down all the gears nicely.
    However with only 30k on it, there was a definite rattle/knock from the rear. Walked away.

    Also – with 30k on it, it had only had 2 dealer services @ 12 and 24k.

    • At 30k, how many services would you expect it to have had? The variable service intervals on modern BMWs can be as much as two years apart if mileage is low.

      • Andy,

        I think the car was 6 years old at the time, another service or 2 during that time period (regardless of mileage) wouldn’t have gone amiss.

        As you say, BMW can be 2 years, which means it should’ve been due a 3rd service.

  27. I used to own a few Mini’s back in the day. Starting with two Coopers and then a Cooper S. Great fun to drive but fuel economy was quite poor on the S, when I came to sell it I hardly lost anything though. They are a common sight on the roads now but when I had mine there were not too many around and it felt quite special. The early 2002 Cooper I had a little trouble with, electric windows sticking and it had to have a new steering rack. My advice would be to go for an 2004 onwards car. These were a lot better, and I had no problems at all.

  28. See lots of ropey 05 dogs that somehow avoid getting written off, just like C1,107 and Aygo.

    Getting rather scabby underneath too, I also prefer the Tritec engine to the poor BMW/PSA joke of an engine which I have lost count of the “chain modules” I have replaced after 70+.

    The Daihatsu engined early diesels (as found in Yaris) seem reliable enough as long as the fuel filter in the o/s/r wheel arch is changed that lazy technicians could not be arsed replacing is changed, anyone gone round a corner and the car cut out in one of these?

  29. “They are great.”
    “They are terrible.”
    “They are great.”
    “They are terrible.”

  30. A workmates has just got a MINI ONE on an 02 plate £1175. It’s mint and he’s very happy with it. When he told me how much he paid I thought there was something wrong with it,but he’s had it for a few weeks now with no issues. Is that a one off? Did he get lucky? I would quite like one even though I’m a card carrying classic mini fan.

  31. All interesting stuff, but can anyone clarify why the Midlands (i.e. the Rover R65) gearbox has such a poor reputation in the BMW Mini? This gearbox was fitted in countless Rovers of numerous types and I can’t remember ever hearing of it being particularly troublesome. Was it a vastly different animal that was fitted in the Mini and is it really that fragile? If so, why?

    If you check any of the Mini forums, they seem to regard it to be about as robust as a chocolate teapot and there are numerous descriptions of how to convert to the later Getrag version.

    Was something re-specified within the gearbox to save a few pennies?

    I would be interested on people’s views on this, as all the cars I have owned with this gearbox went on their way without any problem.

    • Not sure what it was now when mine went on an 04 plate Cooper. had the normal noise and metal particles everywhere but still engaged OK?

  32. I have a contact in the trade and sales of new MINIs are slow at the moment.
    Perhaps the “kool chix” are luvving the Fiat 500

  33. Had two the first one a 2004 Cooper had the standard failures; Gearbox and power steering pump (total cost around £3k!) and then chopped it for a low mileage 52 plate Cooper S which had a non traceable oil leak which meant nearly every week the oil need topping up…likely culprit (in hindsight) was the Oil O ring seal on the front of the blocks but the local Mini dealer preferred to sting me over £1k for main oil seal, head gasket and sump gaskets…none of them cured it!! Now happier with a Ford Focus

  34. Steering pumps were all inferior to the point it got coverage on Watchdog but still BMW weren’t admitting fault and a recall. The Watchdog programme had Richard E Grant telling the tale of his daughter’s car and its pump failure.

  35. The Mini R50 Midlands Gearbox was a well proven before being used in early Minis. I drive an 148K 2004 Cooper without any issues. Think a lot of the unjust publicity is down to the high levels of Chavs and generally shite drivers who
    either thrash them and orlabour the engines in higher gears and think fine not to regularly service them

  36. I’ve had my 05 Chilli Cooper since 2006, never really had fault. Its just gone over 100,000. I did have one small (easy 10 mins) problem, being the thermometer. Then stupidly I didn’t put in any antifreeze for the following winter.. Not good! So I had to change the water pump. :OP The whole front of the car had to come off to change the water pump, meaning the original easy job took half a day! Still I don’t think that’s bad for 12yrs ownership! I took it on the autobahn last year, and to my surprise got 134mph out of it! Never would have imagined it!! haha Enjoy owning, nippy, stick to the road in all weather.. They’re great fun! :O)

  37. I purchased a one owner 2005 Supercharged Cooper S with only 45,000 from new and full service history last December.
    It’s in dark silver with a black roof,and I’m really chuffed with it.
    Everytime I take it out for a blast it never fails to put a smile on my face.
    A surefire ‘modern classic’

  38. just bought a cooper on an 07 plate 56000 miles on clock full dealer service with chilli pack,racing green, one previous owner un marked body no advisories,am I the lucky one or not? £3,200,my first mini.

    • Having read all the above I now think I’m going to hang on to my 18 yo, 52 Mini One. Metallic BRG which is set off by the complementing green tint windows. 26.000, 8 point alloys, spots, no a/c – though panoramic sunroof. Expensive tax – deep breath, only once a year. Today was offered 1k trade in but now think a tad more TLC from your’s truly and be grateful for what I’ve got. A little gem.

  39. I think the later models, which use a British built engine over the one from Chrysler in Brazil, are more reliable. One of my friends has an 11 plate Mini that has done 140,000 miles and she has had no trouble with it until this year when the head gasket failed. This is very good for a car that is thrashed quite a lot on the M6 and has way above average mileage for its age and using a specialist over a dealer saved her quite a lot in repair bills. Also I find the later Minis to be better equipped and you have a wider range of models.

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