After driving STELLAtoo for more than ½ a year and 10,000 KMs, I’ve come to really love but also dislike a few things about her. Nothing that I dislike is enough to make me downgrade the car in my mind: I still think it’s absolutely amazing! This list is more of a “sigh, STELLAtoo doesn’t do this…” kinda list. Not a “OMG don’t buy an R55/56/57 because it’s bad.” Nothing like that at all, OK?
Feel free to sound off in the comments whether you agree or disagree!
5 Things I Dislike about STELLAtoo (in no particular order):
1) No ram air.
I loved motoring around in STELLA (2006 Cooper S) without using any energy-consuming methods to blow air around the cabin. It blew just enough air around to keep things fresh even though the system was off. Don’t want any air circulating today? No problem, just take 2 seconds to close the vents/direct them somewhere else and keep motoring. Adam dislikes the ram air because he says it dries his contacts – I never had that problem!
In STELLAtoo, when the fan system is off, it’s OFF. Nothing. Absolutely nothingggg comes out of the vents. It’s as if they are closed. I find myself turning on the fan on speed 1 or 2 just to get things moving a bit. With the music off, you can faintly hear a motor of some sort kick in when the system is turned on. That gives me the impression I am using energy of some sort that’s taking away from my fuel economy and perhaps overall power?
Turn the system on low or open the window a crack. Or get used to no air circulating. I guess the bottom line is that I enjoyed the air blowing without me needing to turn anything on!
2) Driver’s side seatbelt gets stuck.
Every morning as I peel out of my condo parking spot, I reach for the seat belt. And it’s stuck. I need to make a sharp turn around the aisles while reaching for the belt. So I stop, fiddle with it, buckle up, then keep going. This was never a problem for 3 years with STELLA. With STELLAtoo, the buckle part gets stuck between the seam/crack in the driver’s door. Wedged in there and stuck on the side of the seat. I don’t know if this happens on the passenger side. It probably does
If I wait until I get up 3 levels and have a brief pause while the garage door opens, then I hear the “ding ding” of STELLAtoo reminding me to buckle up. Yes, I could just buckle up before I start the car but I’m usually in a rush – excited to get out and motoring!
Adjusting the seat in any which way didn’t help, and I noticed an small (not very noticeable unless you are looking for it) indent on the side of the seat from the seatbelt in not just my car but others at the dealership. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done other than getting used to it and adjusting my habits to reach for it when I’m not distracted by anything. Either that or one of those plastic-y mechanisms you see in some cars that pushes the seatbelt forward and kinda holds it? Do those things work? Not only are they visual-unappealing, but they have the potential to be more annoying. Will look into that and update you!
3) Melting (dented) hood scoop.
This topic has been done to death over the forums for owners with a R56/55/57. The heat put out by the turbo is so freakin insane! About an hour after motoring, I washed my car and when the water hit that area, it sizzled and created steam! I’ve looked into the M7 heat shield but have concerns about it containing the heat. Isn’t the point of the cooling fans to circulate heat OUT of the engine bay? Not TRAP it in a small, isolated, not-to-mention expensive part? It’s cheaper and easier to replace the hood scoop frequently if necessary rather than need maintenance in the engine bay due to excessive heat. MINI Durham is an authorized installer of M7 so I have easy access to the parts if I decide it is the right option for STELLAtoo.
To be honest, the melting is not THAT noticeable. I did notice it before I read about it on the forums, but I couldn’t decide whether it was a small, aerodynamic indent purposely placed there or if my eyes/lighting was playing tricks on me. If I don’t point it out, it’s barely noticeable to MINI owners who are not in the know and especially not noticeable to non MINI owners.
Solution: M7 Heat Shield (or isn’t there another company that makes one too? But doesn’t that one involve taking apart something to install it? – which made me kinda uneasy). Carbon fibre hood scoop (= $$$). Research an aftermarket hood scoop (maybe they are constructed to better withstand the heat?). Ask the dealership for a replacement, wait for it to melt again, and ask for another replacement – continue this process until I either get a) turned away or b) own my Coopster!
4) Double-venting sunroof.
“Wow, you have TWO sunroofs? That is sooooooooooooooooo cooooooool!” That’s the typical reaction I get from friends when they see me pull up with my sunroofs vented. For years of ownership with STELLA, I thought it would be cool if the rear moon roof could open as well. Be careful what you wish for! I saw it on the 2007 MINIs and thought it was a great addition to the car.
To be honest, I find it creates more noise when vented on the highway. There is also less air getting into the cabin. I think the airflow just gets kinda thrown around up there instead of moving smoothly over the roof. I am no physicist and I haven’t Googled the science of air flowing over an open sunroof (YET!) but I feel it’s probably not as aerodynamic due to the increased noise. Knowing how awesomely-cool the MINI designers are, I think they thought of this, researched it, and came to the conclusion that the noise wasn’t that bad/air still flows fine/the pros outweigh the cons.
Still, if I had a button to press that would keep the rear sunroof stationary, I would press it, glue it down, and make sure it doesn’t get un-pressed. Well, I would un-press it when motoring up to friends who are going to oooh and ahhh over it 😉
Get Ian (who created the wicked-awesome auto-up for the R50/R53) to create a circuit to interrupt the movement of the rear sunroof. Climb up there and, out of frustration, mess with it myself so the rear roof stays put (not a good idea and not one that I will end up doing-or recommending!). Manage my expectations of looking cool and having quiet airflow while motoring at highway speeds. Yeah, I’ll choose the last option for now!
5) Little things I liked about STELLA.
The VERY audible burble and pop of my exhaust.
Radio controls that were more intuitive.
R53 body style.
Super-super charger power. Let me explain this one: Picture this… highway onramp. Accelerating speed. Merging into traffic. I pushed the RPMs higher on STELLA and increased my speed to more than I would be cruising at and created this super-super charger power that sustained the rest of the journey. I perfected this for more than 2 years and made notes of how to access it. Basically, my theory is that you set the “limit” for the cruise high from the beginning so STELLA gets all that power ready, and then you slow down to your cruising-with-the-flow-of-traffic speed and she maintains this extra boost of power. The car ultimately feels a LOT faster! I talked to my manager at MINI Durham and he said there is science behind it – so it’s not all in my head that I have extra power. On days when it wasn’t safe to sharply accelerate when on-ramping, I noticed she was still powerful, just not in the same way.
There’s nothing like this whatsoever with the turbo. I can press the sport button anytime I want and get an extra boost of power, but with the supercharger, I felt like I was unlocking a secret source of energy within the car. It’s like getting to a new level in a game from P4RGaming
that unlocks new features!
Drive an R53! Just kidding! It’s natural to pick out favourite parts of everything in life. What it comes down to is really personal choice to find the right car for you.
I love the new car for so many other reasons that I can adjust and overlook some R53 quirks. It’s just nice to know that they impacted your life so much that you miss them once in a while. It’s also nice to know that the two cars are so different, but at the same time, so similar. Based on what you prefer, you can choose the MINI that fits you the best. There are die-hard R53 owners who say they wouldn’t dare drive anything else (that was me before!). There are also die-hard R55/56 owners who are loyal to the new features and couldn’t look back (I walk the line of happy with my R53 AND R55!).
I think it’s a testament to the vehicle that I drove it for 7 months, put on 10,000 KMs, and have only a little list of minor things. These five “dislikes” are really just out of habit of driving an R53 for 3.5 years and getting used to the car. Adjustment “dislikes”, if you will. They absolutely don’t impact my day-to-day motoring enough that I would choose a different car or recommend someone purchase something else. NICEEEEEEEEEEEEE – I like happy endings! 😀
How do you feel about the two generations of MINI?
Which do you prefer?
Do you agree with my list? Disagree?
Got any solutions? *YAY
That’s what the COMMENTS are for!!!
PS: Look for a list of things I LIKE about STELLAtoo, my 2009 JCW Clubman, in just a couple days!