2003 BMW Mini Cooper 1.6 petrol


More annoying and unreliable than it should have been


Power steering pump failure.

Thermostat failure.

Radiator top hose failure.

Rear suspension arm failure.

Rear brake caliper seizure.

Tailgate release failure.

Rear washer failure.

Glove box failure.

Lambda sensor failure.

General Comments:

Loved the look of the car when we bought it, with beautiful red and black paintwork. Wish I'd taken it for a longer test run though, as I soon discovered its lack of power to be very frustrating. 0-60 in 9.2 seconds? I doubt it, unless you had no mechanical sympathy and absolutely revved the nuts off it - not easy as it seemed to run out of puff at about 5000 RPM and made the most unpleasant whining wheezing sound, reminiscent of an old Austin/Rover 'O' series. Not that there was anything actually wrong with the engine, it was just very unsophisticated.

And the ride quality? Absolutely the most uncomfortable car I've ever owned. That includes 4 'classic' Minis and a Series 3 Land Rover. OK, it had the worst case scenario combination of 18" run-flats and 'sports' suspension, but really it was ridiculous. On Scotland's ever deteriorating 3rd world roads, the ride was just bone jarring and back damaging. In *comparison*, my previous sporty small hatch had fantastic suspension and handling. And that was a rattly old MG!!

And look at the things that have gone wrong...

Power steering pump failed, but was not covered by the big name dealer's crappy warranty. I argued that it was a steering component, they argued that it was an electrical (i.e. not covered by warranty) component and wanted to charge me £750 to change it.

The thermostat failed, allowing the car to boil like a tin kettle if stationary for more than a few minutes.

The radiator top hose had been fouling the alternator, presumably since the day it was built, and eventually gave way, streaming water onto the ground in a big green puddle.

The lower rear suspension arm snapped, causing the big comedy back wheel to try and grind its way into the rear cabin - luckily it remained in alignment so I could pull over safely.

The rear brakes habitually seized despite rigorous regular maintenance, causing an ever-present irritating squeak from the back at any speed under about 30MPH.

The tailgate opening switch regularly failed, mostly due to water ingress from the shockingly badly designed rear washer components, which also failed.

One of the lambda sensors failed on the exhaust, showing a check engine warning, but luckily I had a code reader and replaced the component easily.

Lastly, to add insult to the injuries incurred by the terrible ride, the glovebox would fly open, spilling its contents onto the passenger at the slightest provocation.

On the upside, it was reasonable economic, very easy to park, and I loved the retro cabin, small though it was. And the boot space was always a disappointment.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th February, 2013

2003 BMW Mini One D 1.4 turbo diesel


Reliable, stylish and economical


Rear wheel bearing failed at circa 35,000 miles

Bearing to fan belt idler pulley failed at circa 40,000 miles.

General Comments:

Road holding superb

Build quality very good, no squeaks or rattles

Fuel consumption - averages 57 miles per gallon

Performance - a little slow to pick up, but once motoring plenty of torque.

Not particularly cheap to buy, but I had all the extras.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th September, 2007

2003 BMW Mini Cooper S 1.6


Pricey, but the best small car by far


Absolutely nothing!

General Comments:

Probably everything I would have wanted in a small car.

Good Points:

Performance is excellent, if not slipping against the newer hot hatches.

Comfortable interior with an array of gadgets to keep you interested.

Build quality is fantastic, no rattles and trim is well bolted together. Feels solid to drive.

For the few times I've been back to the garage for servicing and MOT, the BMW/MINI customer service has been excellent.

Appears to holds it's value very well.

Bad Points:

Boot is a bit small, but this is a MINI I guess so I can't complain there. Back seats drop down and the car becomes quite practical.

Fuel economy doesn't seem to very good round town 28/29mpg, though I managed 42mpg on a motorway run.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th May, 2006

11th May 2006, 13:00

Are you using Imperial gallons to measure fuel economy? Are you running a diesel?

12th May 2006, 09:46

The Cooper S is a "gas guzzler" given its size, so the reviewer is either very optimistic in his reviews, or is measuring Imperial gallons and not accelerating at all on the highways.

S models are not available in diesel.