2003 BMW Mini Cooper 1.6 inline 4 from North America


Worth waiting out the delivery time


My transmission had a problem with reverse - it was very hesitant and often took up to 10 tries before it would actually shift. The transmission was repaired under warranty at about 8000km.

Other warranty repairs were minor and included a rattling in the driver's door and fit and finish details.

My local MINI dealer was always very prompt and willing to offer me a loaner car whenever warranty repairs were required.

General Comments:

Having chosen a Cooper over the more powerful Cooper S, I never regretted going with the smaller engined model. It is still very quick, perhaps not so much in a straight line, but around corners it is without rival. Apparently the MINI can run through a slalom faster than a Porsche 911 (although I've never tried that myself).

Around town it is SO much fun to drive - I can't even convey the feeling. You'll just have to go take one on a test drive.

The sales staff at my local dealer are very friendly and always accomodating.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th May, 2004

22nd Aug 2004, 23:09

My 2003 Mini has the same problems with reverse. It also would not find 2nd gear and would sometimes grind, even with clutch pressed in all the way. My car, which I love just dropped the transmission...I waiting to see what the dealer days.

29th Sep 2004, 23:30

Guess what? Same problem with my 2003 Mini Cooper. I bought the car in a different state than I now live in. When I emailed the dealership where I purchased it, they replied that a few other customers had this problem- and they had a floor model with the issue as well. The dealership where I live and am trying to have it repaired/replaced is saying they have no problems with it when they test it, so they won't do anything. This inability to put it in reverse has happened to me countless times. Any advice?

19th Oct 2004, 13:16

We have never had this problem with our mini, though reverse on the Cooper S is in a different position. I have had this problem with other cars though. Generally, if you release the clutch, then push it back in it will shift into gear. The gear box on the Mini is very tight and I could understand how it might be easy to miss the gear when shifting.

2003 BMW Mini Cooper 1.6 from UK and Ireland


Great fun, great looking, but flawed


Boot wouldn't close and then when it did it wouldn't open again!

Windows would drop open an inch or two.

2000 miles windows wound themselves down and doors unlocked themselves.

Front wheel bearing went.

General Comments:

This is a great car and despite some annoying teething problems I fully intend to get another one.

Biggest worry was the doors unlocking and the windows opening themselves. It did this whilst it was parked unattended outside my in laws for a couple of days. If it had been left in an airport carpark I probably wouldn't be the owner now!!

The car has very low depreciation which makes the niggling reliability problems easier to bear.

Straightline performance is adequate, but the handling is absolutely superb, the best I've had since an old Fiat X1/9.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th March, 2004

20th Sep 2004, 15:56

Did you manage to get to the bottom of the windows winding down by themselves? We too have that problem.

2003 BMW Mini Cooper S 1.6 Supercharged from UK and Ireland


4 recoveries in two brand-new cars, utterly useless


1). Single-slot CD player replaced because it skips.

2). Wiper-speed step-down programming requested as per the "MINI User Manual".

3). Replacement Single-slot CD player fails.

4). Dash rattle.

5). Driver seat mechanism squeaks requiring total rebuild and lengths of anti-rattle tape to finish the job started in the factory.

6). OFF-SIDE FRONT suspension mounting failed causing the car to lean and fall to the OS-kerb/centre of the road under braking.

7). Replacement Single-slot CD player fails.

8). NSF run-flat puncture on a Sunday, out of miles on the run-flat tyre and the dealer could source a replacement for 4 days!

9). Replacement Single-slot CD player fails.

10). MPG is averaging at 27MPG at a steady 70mph.

11). Fuel Computer registers "30MPG" instead.

12). Clutch pedal clicks when being depressed and released.

13). NSF side repeater falls out, with it's retaining catch broken.

14). Handbrake releases itself and car rolls away.

15). Replacement Single-slot CD player fails.

16). Two-stage door locking couldn't be programmed again because of a mistake in the manual.

17). Glove box creaks.

18). Lacquer marks in paintwork (since new) removed.

19). Extremely loud front brakes squeal.

20). Extremely loud front brakes squeal again.

21). Extremely loud front brakes squeal yet again. Pads skimmed and deglazed to resolve.

22). Fuel consumption worsens (25MPG)

23). Fuel computer still over-registers by 10%

24). Yo-yoing or Surging effect ("Kangaroo petrol"). 3 visits until...

25). Throttle housing shatters. Yo-yo effect disappears.

26). Power Steering pumps fails because the terminals have corroded away needing recovery.

27). Traction Control light and Tyre pressure warning lights on permanently with a total sensor failure in the car.

28). Tailgate latch mechanism fails and rattles like crazy.

29). OFF-SIDE FRONT and NSF seat-belt hangers rattle together.

30). Yo-yo effect returns.

31). ELECTRONIC CONTROL UNIT version 33 loaded with no improvement.

32). "Stumble" now arises when pulling away in 1st gear, throwing passengers forward in their seats, and was recovered because it was unsafe to drive.

33). Gear stick rattles around like crazy when pulling away in 1st.

34). Drivers seat mechanism begins it's squeaking-rattling thing again.

35). Cooper "S" bonnet inlet duct looses retaining nuts into engine bay and rattles around at high motorway speeds, it flaps up and down!

36). ELECTRONIC CONTROL UNIT version 34 loaded again with no improvement.

37). Stumble still exists.

38). Steering column clicks (can be felt through steering wheel).

39). Power Steering pump fails again and car is again recovered, 2 days before handing back to the dealer for good!

40). The 2-month old replacement car that BMW/MINI forced me to pay £800 for had a steering failure too.

General Comments:

I would never, ever recommend buying a MINI Cooper S.

They are great if you don't need a reliable car.

They are a toy car and not a trust-worthy vehicle.

I consider them to be unsafe.

They are great to look at, but not so great too look at when you see them towed away.

I would have covered 25,000 miles in it, in fact the mileometer showed 18,000 miles when I handed it back, so that 7,000 miles covered in courtesy and hire cars!!!

If you must buy a one, and you have the patience, only keep it until the BMW/MINI Warranty runs out otherwise you're in for some big bills.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd March, 2004

15th Apr 2004, 19:23

That is an absolutely horrific list.

I was just about to order a one of these too! They can forget it now.

You said you had to pay them for the replacement? They should have compensated you. You must be a fan.

I hope everything is better now, and I'd be interested to know what your driving instead.


21st Apr 2004, 17:17

SKODA FABIA VRS?? So much nicer than a camp old Mini!!

19th May 2004, 04:38

Have had a similar experience with Mini Cooper, replaced by Mini for £500 but that one was also bad.

Main problems were CD player, seat belt pretensioners, lambda probe, and central locking. Needed to be towed.

Note: these were early cars.

16th Oct 2014, 10:37

Just commenting that I have 208,000 miles on my 2002 Mini. I use it as a daily driver. One of the most trustworthy cars I have owned.