2003 BMW Mini Cooper 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


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 Cooper 1.6 from North America


Mini car, major disappointment!


At 56,000 miles, the A/C compressor failed ($600.00 + labor).

At 55,000 miles, the shift knob was coming off.

At 55,500 miles, the headliner began to sag.

At 57,000 miles, the transmission was failing - no first or second gear, sometimes no reverse!

General Comments:

Loved driving the car - tons of fun and a great conversation starter. Loads of character, ran great - when it ran!

I cannot recommend Mini to anyone, unless you have money to throw away.

Do not buy a Mini.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd January, 2011

2003 BMW Mini Cooper 5 spd from North America


Money pit


Lost transmission at 56,000 miles. Replaced input shaft bearings, clutch, flywheel.

Lost transmission again at 75,000 miles. Input shaft bearings again - not sealed bearings.

Tire pressure sensor goes off 1 to 3 times a trip with no pressure loss.

Stability control malfunctions all the time, requiring restart of car.

Driver's door only locks with key - can't even push it down.

General Comments:

4 more years of payments and I can't even drive it. It is not worth fixing. Going to part it out and see if I can mount an M3 motor, trans, and rear end in it - will not be a street car. The car is a money pit with mini parts still in it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th September, 2010