2008 BMW Mini One 1.5L petrol
A poor driving experience
Left hand passenger window squeaks when raised and lowered. Otherwise no vehicle faults.
The 2008 Mini One arguably does everything a Mini should do - it is small, easy to park, has those classic mini looks and is cheap to run. Most are familiar with the positives of this type of car, and I do not need to review them here. However having owned one, it is now my opinion that BMW are far from hitting a home run with this vehicle for a number of reasons.
1. The engine. The 1.6 Liter petrol engine the car comes equipped with makes good power once revving. The issue however is torque, or severe lack of it. Off the line, it develops a flat spot that at best could be described as irritating, and at worst dangerous. It has a terrifying ability to lose all power at critical moments (such as a give way turn into a small gap) while the transmission sorts itself out, changes down and then the motor builds up enough revs to deliver useful power. There can be a delay of up to a full second from when the accelerator is floored and when the car actually starts responding. What follows then is a nauseating surge in power higher in revs, once whatever situation you were in in the first place that necessitated the power has long since passed.
2. The transmission. My particular vehicle came fitted with a 6 speed automatic transmission, with tiptronic paddles for the steering wheel. In my opinion 6 gears is too many for an around town automatic. The vehicle is constantly changing up and down, which does not make for a smooth ride - especially in slow moving, stop/start traffic. The constant shifting actually becomes annoying.
3. Ergonomics. Unusual for a BMW designed vehicle, but this car is an ergonomic nightmare. There are simply design errors that are utterly inexcusable. For a start, unless you have the seat all the way back, you have practically have to dislocate your shoulder to reach behind the seat to put the seatbelt on. Even then, the belt often gets stuck between the seat and the internal door arm rest.
The handle for the automatic transmission perfectly obscures the designators that tell you which gear you are in (i.e. drive, neutral or reverse) which are located on the passenger side of the transmission.
Operating the indicators can best be described as infuriating. They have been designed so that a light push will just turn on the relevant indicator until released again (e.g. changing lanes) while a full deflection push will leave them on until the turn is complete. However there is such a fine line between the two modes that often it is near impossible to turn the indicator off again. For example, I will go to change lanes on the motorway, flick the indicator and it remain on. I then flick the indicator back the other way to turn it off, and instead it will turn the other side on. What follows is a cycle of left-right-left-right until finally you get the pressure just right so that the indicator will turn off entirely.
The rear view mirror also has an amazing ability to sit at the perfect height to obscure traffic lights when sitting at an intersection.
Finally I simply cannot understand why BMW decided to fit paddle shift to the steering wheel of the entry level, non-performance model of the Mini. Ignoring the fact that they are practically impossible to use unless the steering wheel is dead straight, would it not have made more sense to incorporate stereo tuning and volume controls onto the steering wheel instead?
And so there you have it. I know what you are probably thinking - the Mini One is the no-frills base model and to an extent you may be correct. However what I do know is that this is no excuse for simply poor design. Spend over $30,000NZD on a car and you expect a certain standard to be reached.
The Mini One is an inadequate car dressed up and 'funkified' if you will by the Mini brand. Buy one, and you will see that once you get past the novelty factor, you are left with car which will continue to disappoint. Stick with the BMW 1 Series, a VW Golf or similar small car. At the end of the day you will get much more out of them.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 27th March, 2009
31st Mar 2009, 19:20
I often wonder if people still test drive cars before purchase these days. I'm not saying you didn't, but a decent drive would've highlighted many of these issues. I think the new Mini is one of those cars many people buy for the look rather than the drive. I heard that when the revamped Holden Monaro was released a few years back, prospective buyers were refused a test drive by the dealers, who said people who bought a Monaro didn't care how it drove, they just wanted to buy one anyway.
2nd Jun 2010, 19:50
Perhaps you should have opted for the manual transmission.
29th Sep 2013, 13:53
To the first comment, you should consider maybe restraining from giving advice like someone who knows what's good and what's not better than others.
At a first test drive, nobody would pay attention when the seat belt is hard to reach, or about lane change indicators that are too touchy, or even that the rear mirror is obstructing. Drive testing a vehicle is every time an exciting experience, and people simply don't have attention for such small details. They mostly try to see if the car drives fine, if the seats are comfortable, power is adequate, and other general points. The annoying points the reviewer is indicating, are only observed after a period of ownership.