California Autos Examiner

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

128 Reasons To Buy a BMW Over a Mini

Firstly, it's a comparison between the BMW 128i and the Mini Cooper Clubman S, hence the headline. I don't really have 128 reasons to choose one over the other. I don't have 128 reasons for anything I do.

Sibling rivalries--that competitive streak that starts so early in life and for some never really ends. Edmunds recently put blood brothers Clubman and 128 to the test and guess who came out a big winner? Well, you read the headline so you already know.

How did the 128 do it? Well, you're asking reviewers who enjoy driving if they'd rather be behind the wheel of a jaunty, six cylinder, RWD Bavarian coupe or a crafty, turbo four cylinder, FWD hatch. Not a real contest, is it? The 128 ranked higher with superior features, better performance and higher subjective evaluations. It doesn't hurt that BMWs always get a bit of a leg up thanks to the heritage of the brand whether or not evaluators are conscious of their bias or not.

Okay, so that's Edmunds tack...Now I'll give you mine. The 1-Series is a striking enough design. For as many stinkin' 3-Series that cut me off every day, whenever I see a 1 drive by, I do sneak a peek. The Clubman, on the other hand, is a bit awkward. I can't get past those weird barn doors in the back and the odd way that Mini has painted it--those rear pillars just stick out. Points to Mini for the hatchback design. Edmunds said they found the 128 to be a "solid usable machine" and maybe it is, but those rear seats looked cramped. Also, I really don't like trunks, especially on smaller cars--I pack my cars with gear and trunks trip me up. I love the multitude of options that Mini offers on its cars, but the latest Mini does border on silliness. The speedo the size of a dinner plate is just over the top, and the overly stylized controls have placed form way over function. The 128's cabin is a bit austere, even when you spice it up with red leather. The all important driving impressions would have to wait until I got time in both vehicles, but I'd wager the 128i would win.

For giggles, I built a 128i and Clubman S online and equipped them basically the way I'd buy them. The 128i clocked in at $35,470 and the Clubman S at $31,450. I wasn't impressed with either one of those numbers. Truth be told, for that kind of money I'm buying something else.

check out the full review here: 2008 BMW 128i vs. 2008 Mini Cooper S Clubman Comparison
photo source: the fantastic scott jacobs for edmunds

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