The same, but different

GPMINI is at MINI of Peabody today – a few small mods (eg: rear foglight), and a full detailing ready for British Invasion, so today I’m driving GBMINI …

I really expected to get back in GBMINI and be disappointed – but that didn’t happen. Instead I noticed a pile of small differences on the way to work today, some in favour of GPMINI and some better for GBMINI!

Of course the biggest difference most people will focus on is the difference in engine power – approx 215hp compared with 168hp makes a difference. However GBMINI does have the JCW air intake, if that makes any real difference (JCW claims about 6hp, presumably at red line with the flap open).

Offsetting the loss of engine power however is the responsiveness of the automatic transmission. In GPMINI at highway speeds there’s enough power to pass someone just by pressing the pedal, with no need to change gears.
With GBMINI, it’s much the same – except the car does the gear change to get more power; the end result is much the same, power to pass, but with GPMINI I might be at 3000rpm while GBMINI has jumped to 4000+.

Also very noticeable today is noise levels.
GBMINI is near silent compared with GPMINI, as far as engine noise and especially road noise is concerned – the missing sound insulation from GPMINI, coupled with the noisier 18″ runflat tires, and no rear seats to muffle the interior, makes for a loud cabin. GBMINI has all that reversed, and has loads of dynamat, and it’s a much more quiet and “refined” experience.
Also, GBMINIs excellent aftermarket stereo really showed itself today, embarrassing the GPMINI experience! There’s real Bass in GBMINI, and clarity that’s simply non-existent in GPMINI (and I deliberately picked the same radio station I’ve been listening to in GPMINI) – but on the subject of radio stations, reception is better with the stock head unit in GPMINI than with the Kenwood in GBMINI.

There’s many other details too …

The seating position is much better in GBMINI! I don’t need the seat positioned to get a good reach to the clutch pedal so I have my seating position more “casual” = comfortable. There’s no difference in the actual seats (both are cloth/leather combo).

Steering is much heavier on GBMINI. Don’t know why; could be related to the different tires, or simply due to GBMINI being 1-1/2 years older? Steering is great and responsive in both cars, but I was very aware today of needing to put a little more pressure into turns.
Also on steering, GBMINI with its aftermarket tires has nowhere near the grip of GPMINI when cornering; yesterday I took the 128/133 off-ramp at 50-55mph, today I didn’t risk faster than 45mph …

The doors are much stiffer on GBMINI; this might well be due to age – but pulling the doors closed today with what presumably is enough effort on GPMINI left them not even touching the car frame; I had to reach out and physically pull them closed, while on GPMINI they’ll easily swing closed with a light pull.

Colors … the Chili Red of GBMINI looks extremely bold outside and on the dash now, almost garish! I’ve obviously got used to the very “mature” Thunder Blue color already. But the black/red seats still look good.

So for now, it looks like I’ll have to keep both cars! Maybe if I can get the stereo better in GPMINI, and some sound deadening, it will close the stereo / road noise gap … but there will still be the pleasurable “laziness” factor of the automatic transmission – no matter what some MINI owners will say, the MCSa is really a nice car and not missing any fun from the lack of left foot usage. But it’s a great shame the JCW won’t ever be available in USA …

UPDATE (prompted by RB!):
Seat position: I have long legs and prefer to sit back, with legs more stretched; but the clutch needs a deep press and I find I have to be closer than I’d like to be – maybe the brake & accelerator pedals are too high …

Ride quality: didn’t notice much difference either way; as I’ve said before the GP is much better than I expected – GBMINI has (too) soft aftermarket non-runflats, so I’d claim that the GP on 18″ runflats is similar to an MCS on 16″ non-runflats.

Full acceleration: The GP definitely has a lot more “surge” available, especially once it hits 3000-3500rpm. But there’s that regular need to get off the pedal, shift gears, and get on again – and I find first gear almost frantically short with the ’05+ gear ratios. There’s an uphill climb as you get onto highway 128 on my way home and I generally “hit it” – with the GP I regular hit redline much too quick and it takes me a moment to “catch up” with the car and shift to second … my shifting skills rather than a GP issue no doubt.
With GBMINI I just floor the pedal and “wait” 😉

One big observation though – on that section as you turn onto 128 and accelerate hard, GBMINI will guarantee to wheel slip and DSC will cut in, so I have to avoid full acceleration till I straighten; with the GP with LSD, that’s not an issue.

Rear wiper issue: I’ve mentioned that before; in wet roads you still lose the ability to see out the back window – and I often find myself noticing the rear window is a bit dirty and reaching for the rear wash/wipe.

Herb Chambers delivers MINIsOnTop prize

I headed in to Boston this evening to Herb Chambers MINI, where the MINI Cooper lease prize donated by them to MINIsOnTop was to be picked up by lucky & thrilled winner Shannon – I took a few pictures 🙂

The car, Solar Red, silver roof and hood stripes – looks spectacular!

Congratulations Shannon – great to meet you and your Dad; many thanks once again to Kerry, Richard, Melissa, Mark and Herb Chambers MINI – what a fabulous donation for the second year running (see here for the MINIsOnTop 2005 donation)