Blog : My MINI misadventure

Jeremy Austin


There’s been a lot of talk about MINI on here recently – and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get my ownership experience into the mix – so you can all make up your minds about so-called MINI quality and customer service.

Before I get into this, the first thing I should say is that the car in the image above wasn’t mine. I kept no pictures of my Clubman, and I was glad to see the back of it. That should give you an idea where this blog is going. I purchased MINI Clubman WG59 XBD in 2010, and following a catastrophic (and costly) few months, I traded it in for a Subaru. I promised myself I would never buy another MINI.

It’s also worth saying that the car turned up a few days The supplying dealer Westerly Yeovil were good. I have no axe to grind with them whatsoever. I purchased my previous car through their sister company and had the same good service from them. My reasons for purchasing the MINI weren’t down to patriotism or sentimentality – but for practical reasons: the MINI Cooper Clubman D has low emissions at £20 a year for tax, it drove nicely, and there was plenty of room for my partner and I – and the dog.

Financially, the MINI promised good things, too. They depreciate at a similar level to a Golf, and my perception was this was going to be like a funky Golf.

Once I’d taken the car and started using it regularly, there were plenty of positives to list. The optional heated seats were awesome, getting very warm very quickly. I liked the stereo, easy to use, the USB music input was great. Economy  versus performance also struck a good compromise – 55-58mpg including commuting can’t be recommended enough – and  I do not drive like Miss Daisy! 68mpg was the best I saw, so not too bad at all. Also, the handling was awesome, as was the feel of the car.

In the end, the boot size was perfect too. Anyone who says MINIs are small should try a Clubman. The inside space of this car is huge for a small car. My Weimaraner was very happy sitting in the rear – the clever design allows the back seats to be tilted a little forward and locked, and it was recommended to take the underfloor storage shelf off to give my dog an extra 6in of room to play with. Roof rack was amazing, OEM quality.

Also, the alloy wheels were salt proof… and suffered no pitting at all, and I like the suicide half door that so many people moan about.

Finally, the running costs are low, a set of brake pads in 40K is quite okay in my books, and with TLC servicing package, that makes these these cars very cheap to run. And I should also add that I’ve had no hassle with the Diesel Particulate Filter or Dual Mass Flywheel.

So why have I called this my misadventure? Let’s get to the negatives. The driver’s door card was never a good fit from day one. The supplying dealer held stocks of replacement clips as this is a known issue. This panel came loose at least three times. There are grey clips and red clips, one is stronger than the other, but on a hot day they soften and they are only just man enough to hold this door card on.

Then there were the creaks/groans/rattles. My perception of a quality car is a nice smooth drive, where you can listen to the music not the structure of the car moving around. I also ended up suffering from backache, as the driver’s seat had no standard lumber support.

But these niggles paled into insignificance compared with the real problems that started. An insect [earwig sized] appeared inside the rev counter (this is one place I always thought rattled). This was replaced after  I sent a stroppy letter to BMW threatening to sue. Then the rear passenger doors had bare metal showing (where there should have been paint)  in the join where the two doors met in the middle. It took me a considerable amount of bullying to get the two doors resprayed, realigned in the end.

The rear door cards were never a good fit and came unattached on many occasions. The light inside the RHS door actually melted, the lens became distorted and the bulb became a loose fit. I am not a mechanic, but we use plastics at work, and polycarbonate does have different grades, temperature/heat ranges. I sourced a ‘new’ one myself from eBay. This was less hassle than trying to get it fixed by the dealer.

The boot liner is actually papiermâché with a black felt cover. This started to disintegrate and got wedged inside boot. The supplying dealer tried to blame my dog having an accident, at which point I became a little excited with the service manager, who could see the panel gaps were not consistent – this was allowing water into the boot. Again, I only got this replaced with the bullying session that resulted in a door-respray. And all this was during the first year’s service.

The list of problems continues. I had a reoccurring issue where the MINI badge on the steering wheel kept coming unstuck, this caught my clothes. The wheel was replaced twice, quietly without hassle I do understand this is a known issue. The driver’s door card mystery was solved by me…

After unloading the car, I noticed the shutlines were wrong, and to my horror I discovered the top bracket that the driver’s door latches to was not even finger tight. It was this that was was causing the door card to chafe. I went to Halfords and purchased some Torx keys to repair this myself. Looking harder, and finding more bare metal on the driver’s door, I found the bottom door hinge was loose to the degree I could articulate the driver’s door. I tightened this down and guessed the torque settings.

Generally the paint was fragile. Tesco’s bumps would ripple body panels; the silver interior trim is matt paint; and the lacquer on the red paint flaked off. The chrome work started to corrode, too…. For this, I got the blame from my dealer for using the wrong screenwash. There is a plastic trim clip on the A-Pillar, this was loose and vibrated if you where in a hurry.

The final episode was, I was loading my car up in a wood yard, left the keys in the ignition so I could leave the radio on – and the hateful car decided to centrally lock the keys inside the car. The MINI assist man arrived ASAP and was lovely. He had seen this before, but I was made to sign a disclaimed that any damage caused would be my problem.

I posted a letter to BMW UK, and eventually the company’s representative joined my local main dealer to perform a formal vehicle inspection. The driver’s door was replaced; the two rear doors were replaced; and the BMW UK rep sat in the back to listen to the vibrations. Funnily enough he knew exactly where to look… and when I asked why don’t the cars get felted as standard, he said. ‘it costs too much’.

This gentleman also found some ‘inclusions’ inside the paintwork, and did let it slip that we have some corrosion issues inside the door panels.- and that BMWs have less issues than Minis’. Please do note it took three months to get the car examined formally – but this happened much faster after sending a letter to the MD of BMW UK.

While the Clubman was being fettled, I was loaned a Countryman, which – to be honest – was a nice drive. But I did note the chrome had flaked off of the LHS rear weather strip, and the 12V cigar plug was loose inside the boot trim… this was on a car with less than 500 miles on the clock.

So I sold this hateful heap at a loss to a Subaru dealer, and I still continue to get communications from MINI. The expected slow depreciation, ended up not really the case either.

Never, ever again.

Keith Adams


  1. Glad you did write this in the end Jeremy…sounds like they’re doing a good impersonation of BL.
    Do MINI know about this blog, Jeremy and Keith?

  2. Interesting and informative article. I’m not a fan of the MINI but I’ve never “dissed” them because I’ve never owned, driven, been a passenger in nor got up that close to one. I’m sure similar tales of woe are probably true of “Friday cars” from any manufacturer.

    I guess that’s the joy of buying 8 year old cars (which is what I do) – the depreciation has happened, any initial glitches have already been sorted. One might have bought a time-bomb but it it what it is.

    I agree with Frankie. On the face of it, it would seem like the MINI is a competent car in terms of design and mechanicals but that’s not particularly well made. Just like any BL era car…

  3. Interesting. I’m not sure I would praise the dealer if they couldn’t sort the door card fit or the latch mind.

  4. BMW make poor quality cars, they are not reliable and are quite poorly engineered in alot of ways. I know a friend that worked for a company that made parts for BMW (amongst other brands) and he said BMW were forever cost cutting, down speccing the parts, even Ford were putting betrter quality parts on their cars. In general, I think all German products are vastly over rated and I tend to avoid them as a rule…

  5. @ Steve. From personal experience, BMW’s quality is A1. Only a shame it’s not passed on to MINI. Was he speaking about any particular model?

  6. From my personal experiance BMWs quility is Z- several thousand!.. A 320 that made an alfasud look rust resistant, a 528iSE that ate autoboxes, a 730 that utterly destroyed it’s head, and the drivers seat cover fell apart.. keep looking an newer oens though…

  7. It seems that problems do not lie with where the car was made, as assered in your previous posts Jeremy. The Countryman, made in Austria, Clubman in Oxford. The problems lie in the design/engineering, now in Germany, manufacturing QA, cost saving and suppliers (lamp housing). If your problems are common, then BMW need up their quality of manufacture, engineering and management in Germany and the UK. Your experience is a shame and sadly will continue the myth about UK manufacturing in some people’s eyes.

  8. An interesting perspective from an actual owner, fair play.

    I also agree bmws and german cars in general are overrated, and that their popularity stems from tax special diesels and the advertising/marketing in motoring publications that gives them constant rave reviews and rehashes of PR memos.

    Working where the office car park is full of exec metal, have seen plenty of rusting E46s (in fact helped my old boss patch up the rust on his and fired down a cheeky bottle of radweld to chop it in for a Saab…), Golfs that spent more time in the garage than any of my ‘unreliable’ Citroens or Alfa ever did.

    Strangely, given their shared componentry, Skodas are usually high on warranty, reliability and satisfaction surveys.

    The fact that the MINI is built in the UK shouldn’t matter – Honda have been producing reliable UK (and US) built cars for years.

  9. This is a very interesting article that helps to pinpoint what are the underlying causes to some of these problems. Most of these relate to the design and finish of certain components which are possibly influenced by the need for low cost by BMW AG and/or are attributed to the poor quality control by the original equipment manufacturer.

    Interestingly, only a few of the items you mention, such as the poor paint finish in places, poor panel alignment and inadequate corrosion protection in the doors, are attributed to the actual assembly of the car itself.

    As Merlin Milner says, there is a need for BMW AG to have a greater commitment to controlling quality standards of their components suppliers and also on the assembly lines. Having a great brand and image which people trust is one thing, but it is all too easy for it to loose its lustre rather quickly. Just ask Toyota…

  10. The various ECU’s and electronics are a pain in the arse in modern cars as well. How many Jaguar XJ40’s or early Rover 800’s are still driving around? I have an 8 year old Jaguar XK8 which is fine at the moment, but I just know there will come the day when I switch it on and the dash lights up like Christmas tree with ‘DSC Fault’ ‘Engine Fault’. Dealers attitude is to replace rather than repair so although labour costs may be low, the costs of the actual ECU is ridiculous. Being handy with a spanner is not enough to keep an old car on the road these days – you need to be an electrical and computer technician.

    In BMW’s defence of the paper mache boot cover though, the likes of Mercedes have been using similar paper mache material to form glove-boxes and other components since the 1980’s as part of the ongoing recycling drive!

  11. I hope the car in the photo started up when the driver wanted to drive away, as it appears to be parked below the high tide level..

  12. Antoinne. Grow up. So the poorly made MINIs from Austria are excusable then. Come on these old attitudes are pathetic, often based upon myth and only keep Clarkson in employment.

  13. Given my recent experience of a high milage Range Rover and my even higher mileage Audi A2 or Seat Toledo I know which are more reliable….. It is a disappointing read having thought of getting a Clubman D as an eventual replacement for the A2.

  14. Just to add I have owned ZT and 75 along with many German cars (mostly VW/Audi) and to be honest there was very little in it regarding reliability but generally speaking build quality and fit was marginally better with the German brands albeit finish on the ZT was exemplary.

  15. BMW cars (and motorbikes for that matter) in general (not just MINIS) are built using the cheapest materials possible. I work in the motor trade and have seen many BMWs with 60k miles which are in an advanced state of wear, worn seat bolsters, worn out suspension, dash buttons and switches that have worn off writing, gear selectors that are worn and sloppy, malfunctioning ABS systems, ECUs, rotting window rubbers, leaks, glass that chips too easily, corroding alloy wheels, etc, etc… I have seen this proof, and don’t need to hear stories from blinkered people that say they are brilliant, because I know they are not!

  16. Let’s not forget the only real problems on a 75 (bar the K series HGF) are BMW ones, basically nearly every fault is caused by cheaply made and badly designed BMW parts. THe 25 and 45s are near fault free…

  17. @ Antoinne, don’t insult the lads down at Cowley, BMW are the bean counters and they cost and supply the cheap crap with which to build these god awful cars with. BMW car (as I mentioned earlier) are just as shoddily built.

  18. @frankie, it was a heater assembly for the 5 and 7 series cars, apparently the parts were speeced (by BMW) to be the cheapest possible and would not last the life time of the car. conversely, he also was involved with parts for Volvo cars and apparently Volvo were really fussy about the quality and durability of the parts used, sending inspectors from Gothenburg on a regular basis to check them. BMW only cared about cost…

  19. Well just look how they are performing in the JD Power survey. They are below the industry average for faults and complaints. For such a pricey car, quality should be spot on, but it bloodywell isn’t. It is not surprising that these faults are ‘known’, and clearly they can’t be bothered to solve them until solicitors are threatened. Perhaps one of the motoring journals should print this story?

  20. @Yorkie

    Good luck finding a motoring publication to publish anything remotely negative against BMW/MINI (or VW group), given BMW (& VWs) vast advertising budget…

  21. This one did. Remember that websites get way more readers than magazines these days…

    Oh and Will, that’s a very cynical view you have of the dead-trees press. Very cynical indeed. Mind you, I remember not so long ago of being accused of the same regarding MG. How I laughed.

  22. conpletely agree @ 23 only rover group or bl before ever got trashed. ive owned rovers and landrovers for years and always wondered where all the negative stories came from and all the so called german quality got away scot free.
    reading these stories they really were no better than rover cars!!! had my rover sd1 v8 23 years its 30 years old now and i must say it has never had any major faults in all that time. long live rover.. lol..

  23. @12 are you joking former BL employees are probably all retired by now BL has benn gone at least 30 odd years, most will now be retired!!! reading the faults on the MINI its like reading a motring magazine from the 1970s trashing BL PRODUCTS wich they always loved doing. having said that the chrome on my SD1 ROVER is still excellent 30 years on so BL got something right!!!

  24. BMWs only have to last 100k as being mainly for the company car mob this is enough for your typical 3 year lease.

  25. Made my day coming home to read this:

    @1 Should I send the web link to the MD of BMW UK…
    @2 Just like a BL car…which is sad.
    @3 The supplying dealer was great. they loaned me a car that was ok to put a dog in. they tried and tried and tried. I felt sorry for them, as the problems with the build quality cannot be put down to the supplying dealer.
    @5 My car was a clubman D
    @8 Merlin, bolts not torqued up, injection moulded parts, poor paintwork…this is a history lesson repeating itself. it is sad.
    @12 Oh yes!
    @19 On the money.

    Before I get accused of bias, I have a boat…its old 1987, it has two BMC 1.5 diesels (B series) perfect thudders. they do not use any oil, spit coolant out, and are low tech enough for me to work on. (Merlin) Its a shame things cannot be built to hold up like this anymore.

    My local Subaru dealers is Unity near Peterborough. I like my new car a lot, I like the ownership experience a lot.

  26. In the sake of fairness, I would like to add that I’ve not had a peep of problem out of my (SWMBO’s) MINI in the 13 months I’ve owned it – and the dealer is brilliant.

  27. I read Steve’s polemic against all things BMW with interest , because my experience over lengthy periods with them has been completely different . Since 1984 we have had a 323i , 320i convertible , 323i convertible , M5, and a 750i and apart from 1 occasion when the 750i chewed up its poly-vee belt we never had a moment’s trouble with any of them . The convertibles were my wife’s cars and had relatively low mileage ( each about 60,000 when sold ) . Mine were all well used by me because I was doing 50,000 miles a year . However, every one of them looked like new when we sold them . The quality was in my experience superb, and the only replacements I can recall were some rubber suspension bushes . I rated all of them as highly as my subsequent Mercedes which have not been faultless ( although the 500SEC which came between the M5 and 750i was the finest car I have ever had ) and streets ahead of my 997 Carrera which was unquestionably the worst car I have ever had . Maybe we were just lucky, or maybe German cars as a whole have deteriorated in quality over the last 15 years or so, but the rather extravagant claims of Steve have definitely not been borne out by my experience nor that of many of my colleagues who have had similar cars

  28. The trouble here is that these brands have set a high expectation with a high price tag and marketing hence when you do get issues people complain about them more. I don’t believe that BMW’s or MINI’s are any better or significantly worse made than anything else. Sure some cars are better or worse than others but the difference is marginal in most cases. There’s a lot of perceived differences in quality, particularly when it comes to interiors but durability is what matters. Most component parts and major things like radiators, alternators, window winders etc are all made by 3rd parties and differ little between marques.

    You do get Friday afternoon cars, my German friends call them Monday morning cars but compared to days gone cars are extremely reliable.

  29. The Cowley Plant was recently on TV, the full documentary now on youtube here.
    National Geographic Megafactories Mini Plant Oxford:

    Why not go and judge the quality, etc yourself, my tour included the Quality Department and Paint Shop during Mini 50 celebrations and we were shown round by two retired Rover Production engineers who also had some interesting stories about the old days.

    Tours of MINI Plant Oxford are available for individuals, school groups, clubs or other large groups.
    MINI Oxford Plant – Factory Tours Bookings:

  30. @no 32…For £18K I expect a nice small car that holds up. my hateful Mini didnt…and I am not the only disgrunted customer. I am a technical person, and the engineering difference in my subaru is staggering.
    It doesnt rattle and creak for a start!

  31. Sorry you got a bad car. I’ve had a couple of Friday cars myself and I appreciate how draining the experience can be.

    For the record, our current R56 Cooper is excellent. The only problems we’ve had with it have been trim rattles. The dealer in Stratford has given utterly exceptional customer service.

    Our previous R50 had a small series of silly problems, plus the trim rattles. Most of the problem areas were the Rover parts.

    Your experience seems very extreme – so many problems. Sorry to hear of it.

  32. The exact opposite of my experience with my Clubman. Mine is a 2009 1.4 One, in Mellow Yellow/Black. Whilst it’s no ball of fire, performance is acceptable, and the car easier to use than my previous diesel Fiesta. For me, the build quality is very very good, and I am fussy. I bought a brand new Mazda in 2003, and that was back to the dealers at least twice a month for the first three years for build issues, before I finally gave up and put up with the rattles and bits falling off. My MINI is the only car I have ever bought that I have not had to return to the dealers for remedial work. I do have issues with the car, it’s not perfect. The exterior door handles are difficult to operate, the car’s computer system is confusing and, for me, impossible to use (so I don’t bother with it) and the clutch is often rather difficult to gauge – the bite is sometimes too sharp and it occasionally judders. Also, the dashboard looks nice, but the plastics don’t feel so nice to touch (so I simply don’t touch it – problem solved). But overall, my MINI is comfortable, good to drive, gets plenty of attention from lots of people (a plus point for me), and is, I repeat, the only car I have ever bought that hasn’t required repeated trips back to a dealer to put right. My car purchases, for the record, are (from the beginning) Mini 1000 Mk 3, Vauxhall Viva 1300L HC, Peugeot 205GL 1.1, Mini City E Auto, Metro 1.3L 5 door, Renault 5 GTS 1.4 3 door, Mitsubishi Colt 1.5 GLX, Austin Maxi 2 HL Auto, Fiat 127 1050 Palio, Citroen BX 16RS, Nissan Micra 1.0 SGL 3 door, Fiat Uno 45 Formula 3 door, Skoda Favorit LS, Fiat Punto 55 SX 5 door, Honda Civic 1.4 Tornado 3 door, Seat Ibiza GTi Cupra Sport, Ford Fiesta 1.25 Chicane 3 door, Mazda 2 TS2, Ford Fiesta 1.4 TDCi Zetec 3 door and MINI One Clubman 1.4. I have also had a few classics – VW Type 25 Camping, Triumph Toledo, Austin Maxi 1750 Auto, Ford Anglia 123E Super and currently a 1979 Mini 1000 in Inca Tellow, to compliment my Clubman.

  33. I have never owned a BMW or a BMW mini for that matter, but I have owned loads of Austin Rover products and now a Fiat and a Lancia Delta. I was fond of and loyal to my Austins, MGs and Rovers but I now realise that they were absolutely rubbish compared with the Fiat/Lancia products I have had. No rust, no loose bits and pieces falling off, absolute reliability, smooth gear boxes, no strange noises. What is more they look good and are functional and, compared with VWs, BMWs and Rovers (of yore), they are cheap. I get a real kick driving these cars, which are also economical, especially when I am in the fast lane overtaking a BMW with ease (Audis are more of a problem). Incidentally, why do you never ever see a Jag racing up the fast lane? Handling, reliability problems, too delicate?

  34. Robert
    @No 37
    My first 4 wheel love was a bright red Lancia Delta HF.
    That twin cam, that handling.
    Special, but a PITA when the electrics played up and it did start to go rusty.
    I had that when I was 18 and it taught me how to drive 🙂
    I hanker after an Alfa with the 3.2V6 under the hood…
    Now my scooby boxer diesel despite being one big ugly estate will see of the reps in thier VW/Audi/BMW 3…the look you get is magic….
    My Dad has a Fiat Grande Punto “dualogic” which apart from a dealer screw up has been pretty good….and 54 to the gallon with a 1.4 auto takes some beating.
    In my humble opinion if you pay your money you should get what you have paid for, not excuses 🙂

  35. This may be more of a comment on MINI owners than BMW’s inherent quality, but even 12 years after introduction, you still very rarely see a ropey-looking MINI out there.

  36. I sometimes see a 52 reg Mini outside where I work which could be showroom fresh (on the outside at least) with little more then a decent car wash.

  37. @ 40 and 41

    Go find a Bini with 80K on the clock thats worked for its living.

    Dare to compare with a golf…

    After two years the red laquer on the bonnet and the plastic front bumper was cracking off….and I have seen this on a 1 series beemer too.

    I think we should have an article on high mileage beasts that have held up and stood the test of time.

    I might just have to shock this forum, and swear….RENAULT….

  38. 42: At the moment we run an A2 with almost 130k miles and a Toledo not far behind at 120k+ miles, both are utterly exemplary in terms of reliability. Can’t say the same for some of my previous high mile Citroens and the like…..

    39: Robert, how do you find the boxer diesel? It is on my shortlist for the next caravan towing vehicle…..

  39. @43

    I simply love driving my scooby….its an outback se with satnav.

    Imagine a petrol with a turbo.

    Imagine a diesel that you can rev (if your in the mood) that sounds nice and shifts.

    You have to drive it like a petrol…its is not like the VAG PD engines with a huge surge of torque and then runs out of steam.

    10/10 car…14,000 miles in…

    NO rattles/creaks.

    As with all AWD vehicles with zero slip on any surface its not the fastest car on the road of the mark…but when you in 3rd…its flies.

    £170 a year ticket (cheaper than Volvo/VW/Audi Allroad)

    I got 46.78 to the gallon on my last tank, thats on a long haul, and daily commute.

    Have a look on you tube at “subarurural” or might be “subarural”. the level of traction is awesome, and its simply a nice a drive…a bit like a volvo estate.

    I cannot recommend my local dealer…unity Peterborugh, Ian is the dealer Principle and he ios good to deal with.

    Adrian you get my point, you should be able to buy a car and it should work properly a few years in.

  40. @ Jeremy:

    Please do forgive me for asking this, but I don’t know how to take your sentence: “I cannot recommend my local dealer…unity Peterborugh, Ian is the dealer Principle and he ios good to deal with.” Is it implying you cannot recommend the dealer although the dealer principal is good to deal with?

    Or should it read as: “I cannot recommend my local dealer Unity Peterborough enough. Ian is the dealer principal and he is so good to deal with”?

    Again, sorry to ask you this.

  41. Well, our Cooper Clubman now two years old and with 65k under its belt hasn’t missed a single beat. In fact it has been and still is the greatest little car we’ve owned. Great fun to drive with the standard 120hp engine, cheap to run, huge inside for a town car, super build quality with absolutely no faults (apart from a sticking side-door sorted in half an hour), looks great, sounds great,reminds me of my youth, AND has an excellent reasale should we ever sell it. AND it’s made in England. What more could you ask for. Stop bloody whingeing. It’s irritating in the extreme.

  42. @43 Adrian

    I ran Boxer Diesel Subarus for two years. First an Outback, and then a Forester. I always preferred the Outback to the Forester (which frankly felt a bit cheap) because it just feels more car-like and is just better to drive.

    I like the Boxer Diesel engine, which does have a nice (for a diesel) engine note. Strangely, the Outback felt way more refined than the Forester, which much of the time sounded like it was running out of oil.

    So my advice would be to try a few.

    Also, as Jeremy said – it’s a revvy thing (for a diesel), and that could mean it’s not a great tow-car. I did however use both for towing, and in fact, brought my Rover SD1 back from Poland with it – and it did feel a little bit underpowered for a hefty load like that. But then again, that load was slightly above its maximum towing weight.

  43. My Skoda Fabia 1.4TDI (05 plate) has 160k on the clock and drives like new. Passed its last MOT last month – the garage apologised that the front suspension bushes needed replacing! Other than that (oh and the brake light switch that went yesterday) its been faultless. The interior is tatty from the abusive of the first owner that put the first 100k on it, but it doesn’t squeak or rattle.

  44. Thanks keith for the pointers. I would be towing about 1300kg’s so hopefully ok. Notwithstanding the problems experienced above I could probably live with a scooby diesel towcar and a Clubman D for daily commute and dog carrier! I drove a mk1 MINI 1.4D demonstrator for a full day when first introduced and apart from being a tad underpowered and hard ride (wheels too big) it was a hoot to drive.

  45. @37 Tracey. A clutch judder would drive me nuts. A premium product…why didnt the dealer fix this?
    Are there any high milers out there with sime input?

  46. Keith you are on the money with outback vs forester. We didnt even have a go of a forester. Ive had a go of an xv with lineartronic auto which I liked a lot. Boot wasnt big enough for around 10k try hunt out a legacy. Same as outback but lower. They depreciate a bit quicker so you might get a younger car. For extra omph try bp ultimare diesel…huge difference
    She and I and our dogs are very impressed and we often do 10h in a car visiting france

  47. We would probably prefer the higher riding Outback although we just missed a low mileage Legacy at JCT in Castleford last week. I used to live near KT Greens Scooby dealers and recall seeing an XV around a few times. I use 2stroke oil as an additive on my diesels, makes a big difference. Used to use Ultimate/VPower in my Astra CDTi 888 (superb car) but in the A2 doesn’t seem to make any difference. (Sorry for the topic drift)!

  48. 515,000 miles is the highest recorded MINI mileage I have heard of (in USA) in this very long 25 page thread (with photos of speedo) that has been going on for some years now, recording only routine wear and tear replacement parts to be expected, such as tyres, brake pads, rotors/discs, alternator, steering pump, fuel pump and clutch with oil changes every 17-18,000 miles:

    The latest update below from HWS (an 87 year old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA ) who has owned his 2002 R50 MINI Cooper from new and posted regular updates on the MINI2 forum.
    “In the meantime, my 2002 MINI has kept going and going without any fussing. We’re now somewhat over 515,000 miles – it’s Winter here – snow on roads – Minus 8 Degrees F yesterday – the MINI (2002) always starts on first try –
    still blows hot air – keeps my seat warm – and has never yet made me think of trading her for anything else. She’s been so easy & so much fun to live with!!”

  49. Keith,
    Sorry to go of thread.
    Ive just read your review of the “old”legacy…the new one has the 6 speed gearbox, and the easy to stall feature has been addressed.
    This is the only car Ive ever owned that has got noticibly better after being run in…

  50. Used to have a 2005 R50 Mini One. It was faultless. Replaced with a 2007 R56 Cooper S. Fun to drive, but had more niggles with it e.g. bonnet release broke and after 2yrs and 11k miles the clutch gave out without warning and BMW refused to even consider covering under warranty. Had Vauxhall’s and VW’s before, and a few Audi’s since – no such problems with them. Would never have another MINI or modern BMW (or anything with the PSA engine they use).

  51. A recent post from a satisfied Clubman owner on about to buy another Clubman:

    Reliability – Clubman Diesel Cooper
    Almost three years old and my Clubman Cooper Diesel has covered 45,000 miles from new. The most reliable and best built car I have ever purchased – zero warranty claims – zero defects to report. As I consider recycling it for a new one I just hope I can get the same high quality in 2013 model.

    The servicing has been carried out to my complete satisfaction – and I did purchase a set of replacement windscreen wiper blades last Autumn.

    The five seatbelts means it can carry additional passengers and it has generally returned around 63 mpg.

    Disappointments – the MINI colour palette for this year’s Clubman models. There are some seriously awful colours on offer.

    R55 Clubman Register:

  52. Clubman owner about to buy another:

    Reliability – Clubman Diesel Cooper
    Almost three years old and my Clubman Cooper Diesel has covered 45,000 miles from new. The most reliable and best built car I have ever purchased – zero warranty claims – zero defects to report. As I consider recycling it for a new one I just hope I can get the same high quality in 2013 model.

    The servicing has been carried out to my complete satisfaction – and I did purchase a set of replacement windscreen wiper blades last Autumn.

    The five seatbelts means it can carry additional passengers and it has generally returned around 63 mpg.

    Disappointments – the MINI colour palette for this year’s Clubman models. There are some seriously awful colours on offer.

  53. Clubman owner about to buy another:

    Reliability – Clubman Diesel Cooper
    Almost three years old and my Clubman Cooper Diesel has covered 45,000 miles from new. The most reliable and best built car I have ever purchased – zero warranty claims – zero defects to report. As I consider recycling it for a new one I just hope I can get the same high quality in 2013 model.

    The servicing has been carried out to my complete satisfaction – and I did purchase a set of replacement windscreen wiper blades last Autumn.

    The five seatbelts means it can carry additional passengers and it has generally returned around 63 mpg.

    Disappointments – the MINI colour palette for this year’s Clubman models. There are some seriously awful colours on offer.

    (From but ARO won’t let me post the link here?)

  54. 59: If you haven’t had a diesel before you will possibly not be aware almost all diesels improve with a few miles under their wheels. Most require at least 10,000 miles to show their best which is why some people are put off because they don’t give them chance to bed-in.

    Heartening to read some stories from satisfied customers, maybe the main story car was simply a Friday afternoon car? My late father-in-law (I never actually met him) was a railway safety engineer in Germany and only ever bought Beemers ( anew one every 3 years) because of their build quality. Never had any problems with any of them.

  55. I bought a new Cooper in 2004 and a new Cooper S in 2007 and both proved to be pretty good.

    However, I see that nothing seems to have changed in the paint shop, especially on the later 2007 car. The paint was extremely soft and learnt never to follow anything closely as just about any piece of flying debris would knock a hole straight through the paint. In contrast, my 19 month / 62,000 mile old Freelander 2 has just one stone chip.

    The bonnet of the 2007 took about took a lot of polishing to flatten the worst of the dust particles in the bonnet paint too.

    The 2007 car did require a new DMF when it was just a few weeks old and both rear wheel bearings died at around 3 years / 45,000 miles old.

    Despite that, if they were still being made, I’d still have another of the first generation MINIs. However, sadly, the quality of the second generation cars (R56) simply isn’t good enough to justify the premium prices.

  56. @ Adrian 66

    Ive had a few diesels…a VW golf pd 150/Clio 1.9D/Rover 218/a few Mondeo 1.8/2.0TD….after a few months a smidge of difference.

    The scooby, is a HUGE difference, especially with the posh diesel.

    The garage let us loose of a 20K old one…and that had even more pep.

    does the 2 stroke oil not casue havoc with the DPF thingy??

  57. Our local indie has no love of Binis. They had one in the other day that had a list of issues as long as your arm including suspension bushes, electrical gramlins and a misfire. When I asked about getting one for Mrs E the simple comment was “don’t” or you’ll be seeing a lot of the dealer or us. The Peugeot engines are not that reliable either.

    My own experience is being driven in a friend’s Bini. With about 55,000 on the clock it rattled and groaned. The stop/start system was flaky and they have had several issues with dodgy electrics and bits falling off the interior. The dealer service is not good in Cheshire and they have just gotten rid of it for an Alfa.

    In response to the US driver who has done over 500k, there is always one.

    All cars have Friday afternoon specials. I had a Golf Mk4 that was in the dealers for warranty work 19 times in 3 years (as well as routine services). Put me off VW for over 10 years. Failure rates are statistics and there will be good as well as bad ones. The worst cars have statistically more failures than the good ones.

  58. I will have to check on Particulate filter issues however neither of my cars has a DPF. I use a semi-synthetic oil at around 1:175 (200ml for 35L diesel). A German Audi forum has produced some very convincing lab results and apparently it is a commonly used additive by German Taxi drivers. My 125k mile passed its last MOT with extremely low emmission results.

  59. Just to add any diesel also benefits from an Italian tune up every now and then and in my 26 year experience of owning diesels (about 35-40 in total) benefit from being ‘driven’ than pampered.

  60. @71/72….Im going to use that excuse to the coppers should they ever pull me for NOT driving like Miss Daisy. 🙂

  61. They dont use a PSA Engine. The petrol engine used in the current Mini and smaller engined 1 series was developed under a joint venture between BMW and PSA. Saying the Mini uses a PSA Engine is as inaccuarte as saying a Citroen uses a BMW engine. Versions of this engine used by BMW are all manufactured in the UK at Hams Hall near Birmingham.

  62. It is sad when one of us experience such poor performance from a respected manufacturer. All manufacturer’s, just like us ordinary mortals make mistakes. I’ve heard of owners being hugely disappointed with their Rollers – and there are many stories of dissatisfaction with Lamborghini.
    Many manufacturer’s have suffered from basic design problems when releasing a new model – Ford having suffered here several times over the last 50 years – but then so has almost everyone else in manufacturing and component production.
    My own experience of buying a three year old Cooper Diesel Clubman now showing 95000 miles is just one of sheer joy. It does everything it sais on the tin – it doesn’t rattle, I get 58 to the gallon, it swallows all my bags and shopping, everything works and nothing is broken or worn out. My only criticism is that the engine is little noisy for a ‘modern’ diesel. I absolutely love the half door – so useful!
    All this – with Jeremy’s experience – only proves one thing. None of us are perfect and no manufacturer is going to produce perfect cars 100 percent of the time. Our role is surely to do exactly as Jeremy did – write to the MD and let him get involved – this is the way to get performance improvement. Those of us reading this blog that have that position in any company will know why that is.
    Unless your an idiot M.D.

  63. On the subject of BMW quality in general, our MINI (2011 model) is pretty spot on, feels well made. However, we had a courtesy car which was a brand new 320 X-Drive a few weeks ago, this was a £25k car, I have to say I was totally unimpressed with it. The material used in the interior were not what I expected of a BMW, not bad, but certainly nothing to support this mythical reputation they have for being the pinnacle of engineering and quality. The engine was lacklustre, unresponsive and hardly sporty and I wasn’t much more impressed with the legendary BMW handling either – frankly I do not know what all the fuss is about/ Spec wise it was also miserly despite being a heavily optioned model. Partner and I concluded we could never justifiably buy a BMW given the cost, the questionnable styline and so-so build quality.

  64. At @74

    Sorry fella the 1.6 Diesel started off as a PSA lump (which is great…no hasstle) I think I read somewhere that later ones had a BMW unit.

    The badge may say “bmw/mini” but its a nice economical French car.


    Loose hinges where dealers/factory couldnt be bothered to tighten and use loctite. I would never spend my hard earned with Mini or BMW again. That is ever.

    I think the design (space wise) of the clubman is really underated….I have a large dog, and he was very happy in the boot, and I had enough space for me inside.

    I think I would rather have something like a KIA who have confidence in thier products and offer a 7 year warranty…and the product is budget to start with.


  65. I think the bottom line is, they have slack periods in production where they actually build them properly, and then times when demand is bonkers and they rush them together, and if you get a rushed car, it’s going to be trouble, but as you are paying an arm and a leg for one of these, production should be spot on. It doesn’t surprise me that some components are made down to a price, BM are behaving exactly like Merc did, and that was when quality nosedived.

  66. Jeremy, Yorkie – for goodness sake! I know your’e a bit cheesed off right now but there are degrees of sadness past which a stout English fellow should not sink!
    On the question of BMW quality – I and a colleague recently rode in a client’s 3 week old 5 Series. The interior was a disgusting orangey tan colour, the bubbly plastic looked like something re-cycled from Toys R Us – it was so horrible it made us both quite nauseous – no, physically ill would be more accurate!

  67. @ 80

    You try buring £10K and not cry about it.

    I like my super scooby…built properly….doesnt creak and rattle…has a reputation built on trust….and value for money.

    I am trying to prevent other gentle people making the same mistake I did.

    My brother has an M5…and it doesnt do it for me…my reflexes are too slow!

  68. Somebody doesn’t like it when hard evidence about slapdash quality of a so called premium brand is put in front of them.

    It’s sorry when a firm such as BMW have to be physically threatened with legal action to get a badly made car sorted. It is very poor showing from them.

    And sadly, Jeremy isn’t the only one with Bini woes. The JD Power survey proves it, especially when they fell over 20 places on the 2011 survey, It will be interesting to see how they fare in the Us JD Power survey, as they have serious clout over there.

    Unless they stop the penny pinching, and stop pushing the Cowley staff too far, there are going to be a lot more people like Jeremy around, who will never buy the brand again, and no doubt Jeremy will not recommend any BMW brand to his friends or family, after his absolutely disgusting experience.

  69. Yorkie is my hero!

    It gets better…I must have told at least 200 people the tale of woe. They should have spread the word.

    It took a tad under 3 months after the threat to even get my car examined…

    Yorkie, what do you tool around in???

  70. I’d much rather have a Suzuki Swift, a far cheaper rival to a Mini, which is as much fun to drive and the two I’ve driven seem very well put together and I haven’t heard anyone complain about theirs. It seems the East Europeans, who once made the worst cars in Europe, now seem to make some of the best as Skodas seem far more reliable than Volkswagens, the quality of Kias from Slovenia seems excellent and Hungarian and Polish factories producing Suzukis seem to assemble them well. Also locally the Swift, with its VAT free deals and an excellent family dealership, is a must have car and outsells the Mini.

  71. Glenn,

    My cousin has had 2 of these….and preferes them to VW.

    She now has a grand vitara…and loves it.

    Brand loyalty in action.

    I absolutly agree with you, more so on the case where brands are trying to win some loyalty from thier customers…even TopGear mentions the KIA in the same breath as a Ford Focus.

    All said and done it is a shame 🙂

  72. Jeremy. I am puzzled why you continue to blame the country of manufacturer rather than the manufacturer. Nissan UK have a fantastic QA record, often their top plant I believe. I understand your woes but to say “Me thinks Japanese (but made in Japan) is the way to go” seems to be based upon the evidence of one manufacturer, not the country.
    You state that you run a manufacturing company. Are you about to start making all your products in Japan? Would your workforce like to read about your confidence in their abilities.

  73. Merlin,

    All Ive ever said is that I have a Japanese car.

    Ive had a Toyota made in Derby and it never put a foot wrong.

    I did think about an accord estate

    All the Nissan models I like (but either cannot afford or afford to run) are not made here.

    My own personal experience is that Japanese companies are the fussiest in the important details.

    My experience with my current car, Subaru (built in Japan) is astounding. I am very pleased with it and the dealer.

    One of my lessons is never ever try a brand new demo car, ask to have a go in one with 20,000+ miles in.

    My workforce all have shared taste in cars….Ford Ka/Seat/Ford Ranger/Peugeot/Fiat

    I proudly export to Japan!

    I do try to buy British, but often it comes back to haunt me.

    I am not anti UK manufacturing.

    I hope this is OK with you, and that I have not caused offense…I am now off to the shop floor!

  74. Jeremy @ 85, I think the badge snobs should try some of these less fashionable cars and be surprised by them. Kias in particular now are way ahead of BMW in quality surveys and are challenging Honda for customer and quality care. Also the new Suzuki Swift is light years ahead of the elderly budget car from ten years ago and since it undercuts the Mini by about a third, but drives as well and is cheaper to service, I can see why local car parks are filling up with them. Don’t be surprised, though, if in two years time, the Dacia Sandero is right up with the big boys as apparently reports from Germany and Italy suggest reliability is excellent.
    However, the car magazines, in particular What Car, will continue to lavish praise on anything German as I’m sure German car companies must pay the most in advertising rates and the next time I’ll hear it’s not quite up there with a Volkswagen, I’ll jump off a cliff as a lot of cars are for less money.

  75. Suzuki Swifts with pretend ‘Cooper’ bonnet stripes always make me smile……However I want a MINI not a Suzuki Swift however reliable they may be but many non MINI/Mini enthusiasts will never understand that thinking…….
    In the same way I never wanted a Renault 5 or a Fiat 127 instead of my classic Mini although clearly they were superior in most ways to my outdated, noisy. less reliable 1970’s Mini’s! 🙂

  76. Both of my cousins swifts paint had no problems…never went rusty….and never missed a beat. They were a hell of a lot cheaper too.

    Now a proper Mini with an a or A+ engine…fettled into a cooper….a lovely car 🙂

  77. I am still sympathising with Jeremy and his mini woes (even though mine’s not put a foot wrong – yet!) but he lost me completely with the Top Gear Ford Focus and Kia reference.
    Any one who has seen the show live will know that it is a comedy vehicle for the three guys – every single word having been written by Clarkson – it has as much to with serious motoring as hob nail boots.
    Glenn, I think you must be right about the magazines and advertising. There is no mag out there today doing what CAR did in the 60’s and 70’s – they are all far too scared of the bean counters in the add. office.

  78. @ No 91

    Sorry, the top gear Kia…I ued to have a company Toyota in my yoof, and it got treated as hard as thier litle kia…and it took it all.

    It is funny to watch tho!

    ot everything was bad with my mini, it handled well, had a lot of internal space, went like the clappers, got 55-60 to the gallon and was only £20 to tax.

    It was just the lack of support and hasstle.

    So near and yet so far.

    We have all heard this before!

  79. I’m a classic Mini lover. I bought a new MINI in 2001 and LOVED it. It was a very, very special car then. But I had lots of problems. So I bought a new 2004 model. It had no problems, but then I lost my job. I sold it at 2 years old and made a MASSIVE loss. I couldn’t sell it privately, even at a bargain price, so I was forced to trade it in at a massive loss.

    To get the least depreciation on these overpriced cars, you need to have NO options fitted as they are not taken into account when selling.

  80. My wife’s car is a 2008 Cooper S, now has 93k on the clock. Generally very good, strangely the paint is not a problem, for a very quick car it returns 40 mpg, handling is fantastic on standard 17 inch alloys. Run flats seem to last well but make the ride very hard. Routine servicing is reasonably priced and if you use an independent specialist like 1320 Mini you don’t have to put up with the main dealer costs. Still looks a million dollars when washed and spruced up? Interior rattles a bit and some trim materials like the cloth used on the seats isn’t wearing very well compared with previous cars I have owned (Ford, Volvo, Saab, Suzuki, BMW, Land Rover, Mazda, Peugeot).
    Main problem has been the RAC warranty bought with the car, turns out you might as well make a pile of £10 notes and set fire to them!!! When the engine gave up in a puff of smoke, turned out to be a burnt exhaust valve, a recon head and labour came to four figures, RAC said that although their warranty covered all mechanical components!!! That is verbatim from the front of the document, they refused to honour the claim as an exhaust valve
    Is not a mechanical component!!! Always run on V power and fully synthetic oil and not thrashed!!!
    Now rebuilt and is fine but she has lost confidence in driving the car so will be sold, with the remainder of the warranty if the new owner wants a laugh!!!

  81. “Before I get into this, the first thing I should say is that the car in the image above wasn’t mine.”

    Hey Jeremy, we happened upon your blog because the mini in the picture is ours – or ‘ARZ’ as we like to call it.

    It’s five years old now – we bought it second hand several years ago – it’s taken us (family of four) to Tuscany and back and to Portugal and back – and lots of other places besides. Still going strong zero problems – we love it!

  82. Was drawn to reading some of this blog (but not all as there are too many to trawl through)becuse the Clubman in the picture in the exact twin of mine in colour and spec (apart from the wheels), and could hardly believe what I was reading about the OP’s experiences. Our Clubman replaced an earlier 2008 launch model in 2011 when we ordered a new one built to our own spec, full leather, extra chrome etc.

    Can only say that our experience does not relate at all to that described: in 5 years the only fault has been the replacement of one of the rear door struts of which the gas had failed. Done cheaply by a local garage. Quality appears excellent and there have been no rattles or signs of poor assembly.

    Sadly though we won’t be buying another new Clubman as the new model is far too big, it’s not a Mini at all but a Golf-sized car and my wife didn’t like it. As she is the main driver she decided to keep the old model!

  83. I’d suggest that the well known quality issues with Minis have been allowed to develop by BMW. The brand has run it’s course and will be wrapped up in the next couple of years to be replaced by a BMW branded vehicle. More cash directed from us to them, job done.

    • As an ex BMW MINI fan, I’d agree that the MINI “thing” has run its course, but it’s highly unlikely that BMW will be ditching such a valuable brand in the foreseeable future.

      The German manufacturers are past masters at taking a brand and/or design/styling idea and flogging it to death and then flogging it some more and then flogging it again…. We all know the usual suspects (911, Golf, 3/5/7 Series, Passat etc etc), so why should the increasingly nauseating MINI be any different?

  84. Shame it looks like you bought a “lemon” or as they call them a Friday afternoon car.
    I have owned 6 BMW minis and never ever had any issues at all. They are my favourite car now. I have bought the so called lemons in the past though 1st was a Toyota corolla and what a nightmare I had with that one so I purchased another the same model after some buttering up from the sales manager. Another big mistake the same misery fault after fault so no more Toyotas for me. So far the mini has been everything I wanted in a car with no issues.

  85. The Mini continues to sell well locally and most owners keep buying them. Also the brand has grown beyond the three door hatchback with the tiny boot to a whole range of SUVs, estate cars, crossovers and five door hatchbacks. Only complaint I have is the latest models look more bulbous than the 2001 car.

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