Our cars: Mini Coupe - April 2012

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Mini Coupe
Mini Coupe
Mini Coupe John Cooper Works

Week ending April 27
Mileage 11,100
Driven this week: 300 miles

Mini Coupe review

There's something I find incredibly irritating about the Mini – the huge central speedometer mounted in the middle of the dashboard. Despite being the size of a dinner plate, it's stupidly hard to read.

Why? Well, the needle that indicates your speed is tiny and trails round the edge of the dial. With the dial being so huge, your eyes have to search around for the needle, making the whole thing virtually impossible to read at a glance.

In fact, it's so distracting that I rarely use it. Instead, I rely on the digital speedo that can be found in the instrument panel behind the steering wheel. Much easier.


Week ending April 20
Mileage 10,800
Driven this week 200 miles

Less than 11,000 miles covered, and the Mini is already on its second set of tyres. Well, it’s not really surprising when you’ve got a stonking 208bhp going through the front wheels.

The original tyres, a set of Continental SportContact3 SSRs, had actually started to look a little threadbare some time ago. I wanted to try some different tyres to see how they compared, and chose a set of Dunlop SP Sport 01s. However, due to a problem with supply, I had to wait a few weeks.

These weeks were a little nerve-wracking, as the Continentals got closer and closer to the legal limit. It got to the point where I was checking them daily. The final straw came when I took the car to our test track to film a long-term video update (which you can watch further up this page). A mixture of hard cornering and an abrasive road surface meant that by the time we’d finished filming, the tyres were well and truly spent.

Luckily, the call had come earlier that day to say my new set of Dunlops had finally arrived. I went straight down to National Tyres in Kingston-Upon-Thames (020 8546 3311) to have them installed. The new tyres cost £168 each including fitting, so I paid £672 in total.

So far, the new boots are behaving admirably. They grip just as well as the Continentals, and they’re even a fraction quieter.


Week ending April 13
Mileage 10,600
Driven this week 200 miles

A couple of my previous reports have mentioned how surprisingly practical the Mini is, considering the fact it's a two-seater coupe. That's mainly down to the massive boot, and variety of storage cubbies in the cabin.

This is by far the coolest of the cubbies, though. Simply press the fascia panel on the passenger side, and this little cover pops open to reveal a hidden storage space. It's ideal for keeping small valuables away from the prying eyes of would-be thieves.

It came as part of the £1505 Chili Pack that I added to my car, which also includes desirable items like climate control, xenon headlamps and part-leather interior. However, if you don't fancy all that, you can add this option (called ‘Extended Storage') individually for £45.


Week ending April 6
Mileage 10,400
Driven this week 100 miles

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was having problems with the Mini's armrest. Well, I've now fixed it.

There's a sliding panel on top that opens up to reveal a small storage compartment, and the panel had become jammed. It seemed like no amount of pulling or punching would knock it free.

However, I persevered, and managed to force the cover open far enough to wedge a finger in and prise the cover off its runners. Once opened, I found that the problem had been caused by the clip-in protector for the mobile phone dock, located inside the armrest. It had somehow popped out of its mounting and wedged itself underneath the cover.

Once the protector was secured properly, I simply fed the cover back onto its runners, and it's now working perfectly.


Our cars: Mini Coupe - March 2012


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