Published on November 28th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mini Cooper 2001-2007 Used Buy Review
Following BMW’s takeover of the Rover car company in 1994 (they owned and built the iconic Mini), the Mini was allowed to keep on providing motoring happiness to many more new generations of buyers. 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.
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. Unsurprisingly, the new car proved an immediate hit when it went on sale in July 2001 and sales globally as well as Malaysia were beyond expectation sdespite its high selling price.
One thing is sure, no new MINI was ever going to be the quantum leap in technology that the original ‘classic’ Mini of 1959 was. A brand new engine, known as the Tritec was created in a joint venture between Chrysler and BMW. The Tritec was only ever offered in 1.6-litre form. For the MINI One, it developed 90bhp, while in the Cooper versions, that was increased to 115bhp. However, the Cooper S was used an Eaton M45 supercharger to put out an exciting 163bhp (later it was tuned to 170bhp). All versions were SOHC with a 16V cylinder head. The initial gearbox line-up was conventional; too, Rover derived R65 five-speed gearboxes for the One and Cooper, and a Getrag 6-speed for the Cooper S.
Underneath its retro styled body, the suspension set-up was cutting edge. At the front, MacPherson struts with an anti-roll bar and at the rear, a costly and space consuming multi-link Z-axle set-up were fitted. The handling was predictably brilliant and returned Mini to hot hatch heaven.
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 expect even if there were still aspects of its build that weren’t as tight as it should have been.
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 the 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. Despite having a reputation for quality, the MINI does suffer from a number of faults, although it clearly shows the benefit of that excellent dealer network.
Firstly, check the interior closely. Dashboard rattles and faulty fuel gauges aren’t uncommon, while the central locking system is known to play up on early cars. 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. Older cars may now be showing airbag warnings so take care to check for warning lights. 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. Older car
On the road, a MINI should feel tight and responsive, as well as really chuckable. 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 gearboxes can suffer from failure, and the first sign will be differential whine and poor change quality.
More worrisome is the EPAS system. A whine coming from the steering at parking speed is normal, however 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. Like BMW’s, MINI parts are expensive and seem to last not as long as other German brands. Used prices reflect this as some 3rd and 4th hand owners are caught unaware of the maintenance costs as they wrongly assume the MINI parts are reasonable and so they are forced to sell their MINI’s cheap. Prices start from RM55k today and will work up to RM70k for late model 1st generation Cooper S. have your potential buy full checked before diving into the used Mini ownership.