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Published on September 26th, 2010 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Used 2002 Mini_A Affordable Buy If Checked Properly

In 2002, BMW relaunched the Mini brand which it purchased for a very good reason, hoping to recapture the aura of the original Mini that captured the hearts of drivers around the world with its cuter than pie looks and driving dynamics that earned it the title of being the best fun on wheels after a riotous go-kart. Today we can see hundreds of new generation Minis being driven by affluent owners that have tarted up their Minis with stripes, flags and decals reminiscent of the original product. It has also grown in size despite maintaining its distinctive looks. And while other retro designs, such as VW’s Beetle, haven’t fared so well, the reborn Mini has done big business.

We look this week at a used 8-year-old Mini Cooper S for those of you who have been looking to buy but rather unsure about what to look out for. True, it was a much bigger car than the original, almost as big as a Perodua Myvi and larger than a Kelisa so it is ironic that the ‘Mini’ term is still being used but it was still a front-wheel drive with a Chrysler sourced 4 cylinder supercharged engine. Still lacking much needed interior space and luggage carrying capabilities despite its larger size, the Mini became more popular when the remake of the classic movie the ‘Italian Job’ was introduced using the all new Mini Cooper as the get away car.

With its suspension tweaks and some trim differences, the new Cooper S was not a radical styling departure from the basic Mini package. But while the standard car produced 85 kW from its 1.6-litre engine, the Cooper S packed 120 kW with more torque and flexibility. But unlike the original, the extra power did not come from traditional tuning methods such as increasing the compression ratio or changing the camshaft. Instead, BMW bolted on a supercharger with an intercooler and made some software tweaks to create the Cooper S. Suddenly, the Mini had some real get up and go, although disappointingly, the power curve was quite flat. It was good for low-rev response but was rather disappointing when you needed to get up the revolution range for high speed cruising. The Cooper S did not get the base Mini’s (Mini One) five-speed manual gearbox or CVT gearbox. In their place was a six-speed manual.

Over the past 6 years many version of the Mini has been imported in. BMW Malaysia thru its authorized dealers have sold it new with a decent warranty package and interesting selling price that put it very close to the price of a CKD base E46 3 series. There have also been numerous parallel importers, which have imported in the Mini and continue to do so with tuned packages that come from Euro tuners. Some are imported in with complete tuning ranging from alloy rims to exhaust systems and engine tuning to rival that from legendary John Cooper Works. Some others come in with just a badge and large alloys. Prices of course vary depending on the level of equipment and year of manufacture.

We suggest you buy Mini Cooper that came from the authorized Mini dealer to avoid any possible engine and drive train problems as some of these cars are not built for our climate as we have seen with many other European luxury and sports cars. Owners tend to be oblivious to the factory specifications of a car when purchasing from a parallel importer. Many used Minis come with trim problems as the early cars had very disappointing quality of plastics used inside. Take note of creaking seats, door panels and dashboard fittings. Look out for accident damage cars and avoid any car that has been re-sprayed, as this is the first sign. Look also for problematic superchargers, as many first owners would have missed oiling the superchargers regularly. Also have a look under the car for kerbing and speed bump damage especially on lowered cars. Try and avoid UK imports, as they will have heating problems unless modified by first owners. Prices start from RM80,000 for a used 2003 basic Cooper S with reasonable 60-80k mileage. Service history from new is important as this is after all a BMW product and should be serviced by those who understand the car. Best part is…..buying this 1st gen version will not make u look lame as the newer versions have very little improvement on its looks, just like buying a used Porsche!

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