NGTD
NGTD UberDork
11/14/19 8:40 a.m.

My nephew is turning 16 and wants to buy a car. I'm trying to help the kid out because he actually wants a manual hatchback. Have to encourage anybody that age that wants a stick.

He found a 2011 Mini Countryman All4 that he has looked and really likes. From research I have done, it appears that by 2011 Mini's had improved and although repairs were expensive, the incidents of work needed were lower and it wasn't major issues like engines and transmissions.

I have told my brother that I would be really hesitant to endorse buying the car. I think for a young man a simple FWD manual hatchback is a better option. Things like turbos, AWD, etc. just end up being potential extra repair headaches. 

My brother is not a DIY guy so any work will end up going to a shop.

Please let me know your experiences.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
11/14/19 10:00 a.m.

Is it a Countryman or a Countryman S?  The S had the turbo.  The unboosted engines seemed to have less headaches than the turbo ones did, specifically the timing chain guides, but they do suffer from it.  I agree that the awd just adds to the complexity of things to go wrong.  Do they live in an area that awd would help?  I could see doing that with a 16 year old from a safety perspective and, with the base engine, it's probably slow enough to not be as likely to get in trouble.

I've had an '03, '04, '09 and '11.  I'm different than the board in that I like them and think they're fun cars to have.  The '07-'12 models seem to have more issues than the first gen's do, but it's more things like hoses, sensors, etc and (except for the timing chain issue), less about major engine issues.  Glad that he wants a manual as the MINI auto's are notoriously issue prone.

How many miles and is he financing it?  Might be worth getting, at least, an engine/drivetrain warranty just to cover the silly things that will break and will be hard to get to in a driveway.

-Rob

 

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
11/14/19 11:19 a.m.

If it's an S, just Google the term "Mini death rattle" and have fun reading.  If it's not an S, it's still a steaming pile of E36 M3 from a reliability standpoint.

However, they are also a E36 M3 ton of fun to drive.  I had a '08 S, under CPO warranty (and already had death rattle fixed).  Made me smile every time I started it.  I sold it before my luck ran out.

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
11/14/19 11:25 a.m.
rob_lewis said:

Is it a Countryman or a Countryman S?  The S had the turbo.  The unboosted engines seemed to have less headaches than the turbo ones did, specifically the timing chain guides, but they do suffer from it.  I agree that the awd just adds to the complexity of things to go wrong.  Do they live in an area that awd would help?  I could see doing that with a 16 year old from a safety perspective and, with the base engine, it's probably slow enough to not be as likely to get in trouble.

I've had an '03, '04, '09 and '11.  I'm different than the board in that I like them and think they're fun cars to have.  The '07-'12 models seem to have more issues than the first gen's do, but it's more things like hoses, sensors, etc and (except for the timing chain issue), less about major engine issues.  Glad that he wants a manual as the MINI auto's are notoriously issue prone.

How many miles and is he financing it?  Might be worth getting, at least, an engine/drivetrain warranty just to cover the silly things that will break and will be hard to get to in a driveway.

-Rob

 

Sorry, I should have checked some of the details:

- Yes, it's an S with the turbo

- Brother and Family live in Ottawa, ON Canada. The AWD is very useful up here.

- It has 135k kms ( 84k miles) and he's paying cash - private deal.

 

b13990
b13990 Reader
11/14/19 5:51 p.m.

Isn't this the thing that weighs as much as a brand new WRX with Dom Deluise in the back seat?

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
11/14/19 7:52 p.m.

In reply to b13990 :

3200#, so, no fly weight.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
11/14/19 10:29 p.m.

The good news is, there's nothing I've driven that's more fun than a mini. The bad news is, there's nothing I've owned that was less reliable than a mini- and I had one of the "good" ones. 

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
11/15/19 5:49 a.m.
NGTD said:
rob_lewis said:

Is it a Countryman or a Countryman S?  The S had the turbo.  The unboosted engines seemed to have less headaches than the turbo ones did, specifically the timing chain guides, but they do suffer from it.  I agree that the awd just adds to the complexity of things to go wrong.  Do they live in an area that awd would help?  I could see doing that with a 16 year old from a safety perspective and, with the base engine, it's probably slow enough to not be as likely to get in trouble.

I've had an '03, '04, '09 and '11.  I'm different than the board in that I like them and think they're fun cars to have.  The '07-'12 models seem to have more issues than the first gen's do, but it's more things like hoses, sensors, etc and (except for the timing chain issue), less about major engine issues.  Glad that he wants a manual as the MINI auto's are notoriously issue prone.

How many miles and is he financing it?  Might be worth getting, at least, an engine/drivetrain warranty just to cover the silly things that will break and will be hard to get to in a driveway.

-Rob

 

Sorry, I should have checked some of the details:

- Yes, it's an S with the turbo

- Brother and Family live in Ottawa, ON Canada. The AWD is very useful up here.

- It has 135k kms ( 84k miles) and he's paying cash - private deal.

 

Walk away.  No, wait...run.  On second though...sprint as fast you possibly can.  An aging Mini S with 84k miles owned by people who don't work on their own cars = certain disaster....and expensive.

VWrabbit
VWrabbit
11/15/19 9:56 a.m.

I had a 2012 Countryman S All4.  Needed a new transmission at 36k.  The clutch in it was not designed for AWD.  It slips a lot!  That's also assuming this one is a manual and not an automatic.  It was great otherwise.

Mike924
Mike924 Reader
11/15/19 10:11 a.m.

I'm in Ottawa and own an '07 Cooper S.  Although a fun car to drive, no doubt about that I would not recommend it for a young driver.  Unless they are willing to learn and wrench on it themselves.   I have owned my car for 4 years, tracked it, driven it through snow and rain and salt.  But I do 75% of all the work on it myself.  If I had to take it to the dealer (and there is only 1 here in Ottawa) it is pricey.  

I would steer clear, and start with a Honda, or even Chevy Sonic. Parts are cheap and they are more reliable and easier to work on and get parts for. 

Just my Two cents. 

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
11/15/19 10:37 a.m.

I'll be my usual voice of dissent on the general view.  Our Clubman S All 4 is a 2017 so too new to comment on reliability.  But I have a fried with a manual 05 Cooper S for his daughter and another friend who has already run two Mini's to 100K miles before trading against new ones, plus a friend of my wife's who gets a new Mini every few years.  As would be expected from any modern vehicle non has done anything other than regular wear and tear items on them.  I know they are renowned for poor reliability, but amongst friends and family they are just as good as any other modern vehicle. 

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
11/15/19 10:51 a.m.

My brother also spoke with his regular mechanic and was told to move on. He has spoken with his son and they agreed it was probably not the best option.

Now looking at a Hyundai Veloster.

Thanks for the input.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
11/15/19 1:25 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson said:

I'll be my usual voice of dissent on the general view.  Our Clubman S All 4 is a 2017 so too new to comment on reliability.  But I have a fried with a manual 05 Cooper S for his daughter and another friend who has already run two Mini's to 100K miles before trading against new ones, plus a friend of my wife's who gets a new Mini every few years.  As would be expected from any modern vehicle non has done anything other than regular wear and tear items on them.  I know they are renowned for poor reliability, but amongst friends and family they are just as good as any other modern vehicle. 

Just another reason I like you, Adrian.... 

-Rob

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
11/16/19 1:28 a.m.

Veloster would be a good first car. Reminds me of a CRX with an extra door and back seat.

b13990
b13990 Reader
11/16/19 8:06 a.m.

Probably can't go wrong with a Veloster. The CRX comparison is apt.

What is up with MINI weights, though? Did they suddenly get really fat? I'm trying to read their website and it seems to me that the lightest 2020 model you can get is well more than 3,600 pounds. That's a mind-boggling number for me, 350+ pounds more than my 2019 WRX.

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
11/17/19 10:36 a.m.

Nissan Micra w/snows?

kazoospec
kazoospec UltraDork
11/17/19 12:02 p.m.

I have a friend who has one of the same vintage.  He bought it, then asked me if it was a good car.  What do you say at that point other than, "well, maintenance can be expensive, but they are fun."?  I don't think he's to the point of hating the car, but closing on that point rapidly.   He's found that, on the frequent occasions where stuff goes wrong, he usually ends up needing either the dealership or a "specialist" garage to sort it out.  Generally speaking, Cooter at the corner garage seems to have little luck diagnosing or fixing it. For a young (and I assume financially dependent) driver, there are a lot more sensible (and still fun) options for a manual hatch.  Some of the Ford products are fun even in non-ST trim and outrageous fun in ST trim.  Even a GTI will likely have lower ownership costs.

As for the AWD aspect, even in "snow country", I'll take a 2nd set of wheels with snow tires 100 times out of 100 over AWD.  I'll acknowledge AWD + snows is probably "the ultimate combo", but on the days when it's really "necessary", I'm not sending a new driver out, so it's probably irrelevant.  

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
11/17/19 8:22 p.m.

Well just to throw a curve ball, my brother called me this morning and asked what I thought about a completely different car.

So my nephew bought this:

2008(?) Honda Accord Coupe - V6, 6 spd. I would imagine this is a bit of a unicorn. 155k kms. 

I warned my brother that these cars are seriously quick!!!

 

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
11/17/19 9:13 p.m.

It's pretty quick, but I am concerned by the fact that the suspension does not looks stock. Car like that, I wouldn't buy modified- I tend not to trust people that do what's happened to that Accord. If it's not butchered, it should be awesome. 

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
11/17/19 10:31 p.m.
Mndsm said:

It's pretty quick, but I am concerned by the fact that the suspension does not looks stock. Car like that, I wouldn't buy modified- I tend not to trust people that do what's happened to that Accord. If it's not butchered, it should be awesome. 

It had coilovers, but they were sold and stock suspension was re-installed. It has a lip installed which may be making it look lower than normal.

penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
11/18/19 7:45 a.m.

Big big fan of the 8th gen accord v6/6. When they were new, there was an article I read (Road and Track or the like) that basically called Ford out for not making the Mustang more like it. Sedans will be cheaper than coupes, but (maybe) harder to find with the manual. I think it's a solid choice as a Clubman competitor.  

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke UltraDork
11/18/19 1:39 p.m.

It's a darn quick first car. Better than a Veloster.

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