Our cars: Mini Coupe - February 2012
Week ending February 17
Current mileage 9100
Driven this week 800 miles
Mini Coupe review
I’m having problems with the Mini’s armrest. There’s a sliding panel on top that opens up to provide a small compartment inside for storing odds and ends. However, something inside appears to have got itself lodged in the runners, and the panel is now stuck fast. No amount of pulling or punching will knock it free, either.
It’s a little confusing - I don’t think I’ve ever put anything in that particular cubby before, so I’ve no idea what’s causing the obstruction. I’ll keep trying to prise it open, but if I have no joy, I’ll be making a visit to my local Mini dealer.
Week ending February 10
Current mileage 8315
Driven this week 240 miles
It’s always interesting to monitor the traffic on whatcar.com around this time of year, because the inclement weather drives people to search for reviews on 4x4s and winter tyres.
Our JCW Coupe is still running the original 17-inch run-flat tyres it left the factory with, but 8,000 hard driven miles have taken their toll, to the point where the fronts are looking decidedly threadbare.
There are a three replacement options open to us as I see it:
1. Replace the original Continentals with similar specification rubber from another premium manufacturer – say Pirelli P Zeros – to see if grip and noise levels improve or worsen.
2. Fit non-run-flat-tyres to try and improve the JCW’s ride quality. Run-flats are made with incredibly stiff sidewalls to help them stay intact in the event of a puncture, but they definitely have an adverse effect on comfort.
3. Seek out a set of winter tyres to help improve the JCW’s grip in snowy conditions.
With 208bhp thundering through the front wheels, the third of these three options might seem like a sensible choice, but at anything above 7 degrees, grip from winter tyres is actually impaired and stopping distances increase.
I reckon the second option is the way to go. The here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of Britain’s prevailing weather fronts means winter tyres are rarely essential and as soon as the sun comes out maximum grip and traction are definitely what’s called for in our pocket-sized road rocket.
Mini Coupe review
Mini Coupe John Cooper Works
Week ending February 3
Current mileage 8075
Driven this week 625 miles
The Mini Cooper JCW’s optional heated seats have been an absolute godsend during the recent cold snap, so that was £215 well spent.
They’re extremely quick to heat up, and get properly hot when cranked up to their most powerful setting. So, despite the bitter mornings we’ve been having recently, my poor old backside has been kept nice and toasty.
The same can’t be said for my hands, though, because the temperature of the steering wheel keeps taking me by surprise. The Alcantara parts of the wheel don’t get cold, but when your palms wander to the leather-covered bits, they’re really chilly. I never saw myself as the type to wear driving gloves, but I think I may have to reconsider.