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To 'S' or not to 'S', that is my question

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Old 01-11-2018, 04:32 PM
TenguMini TenguMini is offline
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To 'S' or not to 'S', that is my question

Greetings,

First time here hailing from Japan.

I am interested in buying a used 2nd generation Mini. I am able to purchase through auctions generally restricted to dealers. What I am seeing for a 2007 Cooper-S with about 30,000 miles about runs from say $5,000 to $8,000. However, the non-S models seem to be significantly less.

My question is: is the S version worth the extra money?
Would I be cursing buying a non-S model while driving uphill?
Is there a significant difference (aside from the cool hood scoop) in performance?

Should I concentrate on looking for extras like a sunroof and leather seats instead of an 'S'?

I know that responses will be subjective. I just would like to know generally what owners think.

Thanks in advance.

Tengu Bill
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:15 PM
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It boils down to what you're looking for in a car. Dependable transportation, but still fun, although a little underpowered IMO. Go with the Justa (non S)
If you want performance at the cost of a less reliable motor, go with the S. I had an '07 R56 S and loved it, but you have to check the oil at least weekly and should change the oil and filter at ~5000 miles to try and keep the "Prince" happy.
Where in Japan are you. I spent 5 years just west of Tokyo and 3 years in Okinawa. This was all in the late 60's and 70's though.
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:22 AM
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JABowders JABowders is offline
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Welcome to NAM.

The most important thing is to get something you like. The non-S or "Justa" (that is short for "Just a MINI" a non S). is a well behaved car, and in most cases you should get better fuel economy, especially if you do lots of highway driving. The S is turbo-charged (unless it is a 2007 convertible, they are still Gen 1s and the S will be Supercharged).

The S has a bit more Horse Power than the Justa but both cars are a blast to drive.

Bottom Line: The most important thing is to get something you like.

Motor On!
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:27 AM
ShipM8 ShipM8 is offline
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I had this debate when I was deciding and the one thing that tilted my decision to a non-s (Justa) is that they have a spare tire...call me old-fashioned, but I like having a spare since I drive in a lot of rural areas and don't feel like being stranded. I've never felt that my car wasn't fast enough for my needs and has been a fairly dependable car. One thing about the cool hood scoop that you should know is that it's for show (not functional on an R-56).
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:32 AM
miniCPA miniCPA is online now
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I will never use the term "justa". A MINI with or without the Supercharger or Turbo is still a MINI. I prefer the extra power of the S, however, the trade off is fuel economy. I will take the power every day but I will never think less of the cars without. Drive both and see what works for you. Short merge lanes, hills on highways, a heavy left foot and so on may justify the S. Beyond that, figure out what you are looking for in a car and spend some time finding that instead of the next one that comes on the block.

MINIs closer to the end of the model run tend to be more reliable than the earlier ones. That would make the 2006 and 2013 Coupes the most reliable. I first found this in the Consumer Reports reviews, and it was confirmed on the forum.

As for the equipment, that is based on choice as well. You will find more people searching for and not finding non-sun roof cars due to their rarity. I prefer non-leather. I think it holds up better. I would prefer cloth if I could find it, but that is just me. I wanted as basic of a first generation S convertible with as low mileage as I could find and that is what I searched for.

By the way the hood scoop in the first generation S is functional.

Good luck on your purchase and let us know what you decide on.
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:46 AM
AnOldBiker AnOldBiker is offline
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フォーラムへようこそ

(Welcome to the forum)

I have a newer non S version for my year and make. After looking through the differences, I couldn't see getting a vehicle with accessories I would not be using most of the time and more than likely never use. And if these extras fail, having to fix them to sit most of the time again. The difference between the generations is quite different, but still the same. If you find something that is mechanical right to you, cosmetically right to you and fills all your wants and needs ... I'd buy it .. or if not .. keep looking.
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:28 PM
SSuperCooper SSuperCooper is offline
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If you are even THINKING of adding any "go fast" goodies to your MINI, don't even consider a non S. The money you save on a non S would never equate to the power difference you'd be chasing trying to get some more pep out of your engine. But, that's just my opinion.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:29 AM
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Hi and welcome to NAM!
"S" all the way!
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:49 AM
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Best advice I can offer is test drive both a Mini and a Mini S and see which one you think is better.

In cases of other cars where there are 2 choices: Base vs. S; this is what I always recommend.

Personally with other brands of cars I have bought base models and S models. A base model can prove to be a good buy as it costs less, is less costly to operate, maintain, insure, etc.

In some cases the base model is a better balanced car. An S with more power requires a beefier transmission, larger brakes, heavier running gear, often comes with larger wheels/tires. A base can be a Goldilocks car, just right, and because of this a real pleasure to own/operate over the years.

OTOH, in some cases an S (or higher performance model) can be the better choice. A larger engine doesn't have to work as hard and as a result is less stressed. Fuel mileage can be pretty good but of course will never be as good as the base model. (It can be close. I recall years ago the difference between a car I bought with the V8 engine and its V6 equipped sibling was just 1mpg difference. The V6 had a following though because it was less expensive to insure.)

Or the bigger engine is the better engine. Just last month I bought a new car with the bigger/biggest engine of 3 engines because the biggest engine was based on my research the better engine.

Bottom line is test drive both examples. Arrange to test drive the car as you intend to use it. This will probably be a mix of city driving, with some time spent on more rural roads and of course highways/freeways. If you will be spending some time at higher elevations my experience is a larger engine, and even better a turbo-charged engine, is almost a necessity.

If you will be carrying passengers a often the S with the larger engine could prove to be better choice.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:55 AM
mini_wisconsin mini_wisconsin is offline
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Do not buy the "2007 Cooper-S", way too many problems with the N14 engine, unless you're a mechanic. From 2007 to 2010 the S models used the N14 engine.
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:09 PM
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iwashmycar iwashmycar is offline
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That's what I was going to post. If its a N14 S, then no. If you find a N18 yes. Otherwise just get the justa.
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:40 PM
mini_wisconsin mini_wisconsin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwashmycar View Post
That's what I was going to post. If its a N14 S, then no. If you find a N18 yes. Otherwise just get the justa.
You're correct.
Avoid the following (unless you're a mechanic):
2007 – 2010 R56 S model (N14 engine)
2009 – 2010 R57 S model convertible (N14 engine)
2008 – 2010 R55S Clubman S (N14 engine)
Also - the JCW used the N14 thru 2012
NOTE: Most problems are with the early models.
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Old 01-13-2018, 04:48 PM
TenguMini TenguMini is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mini_wisconsin View Post
Do not buy the "2007 Cooper-S", way too many problems with the N14 engine, unless you're a mechanic. From 2007 to 2010 the S models used the N14 engine.
What about N16 engines?

The model system here is a bit different from that of the States (and Europe?). For example a model SU16 refers to R56, non-S, Series M, N16 engine. The SV16 series is the 'S' model. There are variations within these models.

The VIM decoder is going a long way to help me see the details and make a better decision.

However, message understood, avoid N14 engines.

On to more research....
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Old 01-13-2018, 05:09 PM
mini_wisconsin mini_wisconsin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenguMini View Post
What about N16 engines?

The model system here is a bit different from that of the States (and Europe?). For example a model SU16 refers to R56, non-S, Series M, N16 engine. The SV16 series is the 'S' model. There are variations within these models.

The VIM decoder is going a long way to help me see the details and make a better decision.

However, message understood, avoid N14 engines.

On to more research....
I live in the USA, but when I've been to England the MINIs I've noticed have "ONE" on the back hatch and some have "ONE D". Not totally sure what engine they have. The BMW VIN decoder will help you a lot: http://bimmer.work

...I'm also not sure what models are sold in your country. Good luck to you!
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:49 PM
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The "One" is a base Cooper 1.3L IIRC. The "one D" a diesel. I've only heard of them in UK.

I'm gonna step outside the box and say, the N14 is not bad if it's been properly maintained and is serviced regularly. As in, changing the oil and filter every 5K miles and checking the oil level weekly at a minimum. I had an '07 R56 MCS and it was a very good car. It took me several months to convince myself that I did the right thing when I traded it for my F56. It had over 130K miles on it when I traded it in. The dealer replaced the timing chain at 115K under a TSB and I replaced the T-stat, water pump, turbo oil lines, oil filter gasket/O-ring, and plugs at 120K. The N18 being a better motor doesn't make the N14 a bad motor, it just had some shortcomings. Any more than the B46/48 makes the N18 a bad motor just because it's not as good as the 2.0L.
Whatever you decide to go with, try to find a car that has all the maintenance records so you'll have a better understanding of how the car has been treated... and buy yourself a CravenSpeed dipstick.
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:19 PM
TenguMini TenguMini is offline
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Originally Posted by mini_wisconsin View Post
The BMW VIN decoder will help you a lot: http://bimmer.work

...I'm also not sure what models are sold in your country. Good luck to you!
Yes, thanks. This is why the VIM numbers are becoming extremely important. Making sense out of the disparate models is a bit crazy-making.

All of this information, extremely fascinating. Making my search more fulfilling.

Thanks.
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:31 PM
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I love my 2011 S N18 manual because of the power. At 85k, I have had my share of issues, most covered under the remaining factor warranty when purchased in 2014, most others covered by my aftermarket Hendricks warranty. I did recently have my clutch replaced, at 84k and some change, at a cost of $2000.00. I would consider that "normal" for a turbo car with a manual trans driven hard in the mountains.

My wife, on the other hand, REALLY loves her 2013 "Justa" N16 auto trans Convertible with currently about 45k on the clock. She handles ALMOST as well as me in the corners, (mine is a bit modified) but has no "grunt" coming off. We are within 2 MPG of each other, both driving pretty much the same route daily, and we both drive "spritedly". I have driven her Justa many times, and it takes a lot more throttle to do what my S can do effortlessly on the hills. We each eat a set of 4 new tires in about 10k miles.

It comes down to what you want. We are both happy with our choices for different reasons. And I will almost guarantee that her Justa will be more reliable in the long run. Power is a tradeoff for "reliability" and cost to maintain. More power, more "stuff" added to the car to make it faster and quicker will cost you money. I will sacrifice more money in maintenance and repairs (possibly) in order to have more power. It's all about priorities....
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Old 01-18-2018, 02:46 AM
TenguMini TenguMini is offline
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Originally Posted by renchjeep View Post

It comes down to what you want. We are both happy with our choices for different reasons. And I will almost guarantee that her Justa will be more reliable in the long run. Power is a tradeoff for "reliability" and cost to maintain. More power, more "stuff" added to the car to make it faster and quicker will cost you money. I will sacrifice more money in maintenance and repairs (possibly) in order to have more power. It's all about priorities....
After doing some research on this and other forums, I am leaning for a non-S model in the 2012-2013 age. These years have been reported to be the best for the engines.

One main reason for a non-S is that I am not sure of anyplace where I live that can work on the S model. This might be a complicated issue that may cost me a lot if I have to drive to Tokyo to a specialist.

The other reason is price. I think that I can get a good deal for about USD10,000. I just missed a bid by a few hundred dollars for a 2013, a non-S model, 36,000 miles. It sold for about USD 8,900.

Still looking....
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:54 AM
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Sounds like a great plan.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenguMini View Post
After doing some research on this and other forums, I am leaning for a non-S model in the 2012-2013 age. These years have been reported to be the best for the engines.

One main reason for a non-S is that I am not sure of anyplace where I live that can work on the S model. This might be a complicated issue that may cost me a lot if I have to drive to Tokyo to a specialist.

The other reason is price. I think that I can get a good deal for about USD10,000. I just missed a bid by a few hundred dollars for a 2013, a non-S model, 36,000 miles. It sold for about USD 8,900.

Still looking....

Just so you know, Anyone that is Qualified to work on a NON-S version will also be able to work on the S-Version..
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:23 PM
TenguMini TenguMini is offline
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An 'S' it is!!

OK,

Update.

I finally was able to get a car on auction. A R56, manufactured in late 2010. Listed as a 2011.

39,000 km or about 24,000 miles.

Pluses:
Sunroof
Factory installed seat covers which mean that the seats underneath are as new.

Minuses:
Seat covers are Union Jack, but can be removed
The sunroof has a Union Jack decal
The bonnet has stripes that really does not fit my personality

Pix when it arrives sometime next week.
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:23 AM
mini_wisconsin mini_wisconsin is offline
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Congratulations ...and thank you for the update. Where are the pictures?
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:45 PM
TenguMini TenguMini is offline
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OK.
Here are some photos from the auction house. I have not seen the car in person, only through these photos, an inspection sheet, and talking wit the auction agent who had a person on-site to confirm details and questions.












A portion of the VIN readout is here:

Type: SV32
Model: Cooper S
Market: Europe
Development Code: R56 (MUE)
Chassis: Coupe
Steering: right
Doors: 3
Engine: N18
Displacement: 1.60 l
Power: 135 kW
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
Transmission: automatic
Color: Pepper White - 850
Upholstery: Stoff Checkered/e1 Carbon Black - ATE1
Production Plant: Oxford
Production Date: 2010-10-01


I will send more pictures when I get the car and in better lighting conditions
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:47 PM
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Very nice! Thanks for sharing the photos!
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Old 02-01-2018, 12:40 PM
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Thanks for posting up looks like it has some kind of 3SDM wheels but with a lip?
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