Turner Project R53 Mini Cooper S

** Updated 8/14/2013 **

In stock trim, the R53 Mini Cooper isn't lacking in character. The first iteration of MINI's return to the US market renewed the brand as an instantly recognizable icon. The attention was justified and before long tuners had a new toy to play with. Read on to see how we modified out MINI for maximum ROPI (return on performance investment).

   

    

The MINI brand quickly spawned new relatives, and the family now includes seven unique models ranging from a two seat MINI Coupe to a four door, jacked up MINI Countryman. They have held their value extremely well, but because the cars have always been relatively affordable (especially if you keep your hands off the excessive options list), a used first generation (R53) MINI of the "S" variety like ours, or even the high performance "John Cooper Works", can be had for under $15,000 in good to excellent condition.

Driving Impressions

Behind the wheel, the supercharged MINI is one of the most exciting FWD cars you can drive, period. There is no lag compared to the later turbocharged models, and the audible whine of the blower encourages you to push harder. The steering is hard-wired to your hands, always predictable but so sharp it could be considered darty. But while it may be wild fun on back roads, your whole perspective is readjusted when merging onto the highway. Torque and horsepower curves are linear, progressively building toward a high rpm climax but unfortunately that