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Old 08-28-2007, 12:10 AM   #1
darknightohio
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Default 2007 Mini Cooper S vs. 2008 Volvo C30



Video found here:
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do...topanel..1.*#2

Quote:
Redefining the Premium Hatchback
By Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor Email | Blog
Date posted: 08-26-2007

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Volkswagen fans might not agree, but the Mini Cooper is America's first premium hatchback. It might be the size of a grown-up go-kart, but the Mini has enough style to get pretty people out of their BMWs and enough cool features to make tech geeks drool.

Now there's another premium hatchback playing the same game the 2008 Volvo C30. Like the Mini, it has retro styling to get your attention and all the latest features, but underneath the throwback bodywork is an S40 sedan without the rear doors. It's bigger than the Mini, so the C30 is a more practical package, but it has enough power to make it quick.

To see if the civilized C30 has a chance against the recently redesigned 2007 Mini Cooper S, we put them together head to head. We did all our usual track testing and back-to-back comparisons, and then plugged all that data into our scoring spreadsheet to determine the winner.

There is one small problem, though, because the spreadsheet keeps spitting out the same two numbers. Yes, after all the track-testing, road-tripping, errand-running, feature-counting and cost-comparing, the Mini and the C30 land in a virtual dead heat 79.1 percent to 79.2 percent, a tie in our book. Here's why.

Starting on Equal Footing
Neither the Mini nor the Volvo has an advantage in the features department. Although both cars have options lists that can land you in BMW territory when it comes to a bottom-line price, these particular ones are relatively modestly equipped.

For the Mini side of the equation, we brought the Cooper S that we recently acquired as a long-term test car. It has the Sport package that adds 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights and stability control, plus stand-alone options like sport suspension, a limited-slip differential, heated seats and a center armrest. These extras add roughly $4,000 to the base price for a total of $25,220.

For the Volvo, we chose the more expensive Version 2.0 over the base model. It comes standard with features like a sport suspension, 18-inch wheels and tires and a 650-watt Dynaudio sound system, among others. The only extra-cost additions are foglights, cruise control, special paint and an extra charge for ordering the special paint. The grand total is a still-reasonable $26,745.

Nothing Settled on the Drag Strip
Judging by the engine specs, it looks like the Volvo C30 should toast the Cooper S in straight-line performance. With its 227-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder, the C30 has a sizable power advantage over the Mini's 172-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The Volvo also delivers 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm, while the Mini peaks at just 177 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm. Both cars come standard with a six-speed manual transmission.

What the Mini lacks in power, it makes up in size. From nose to tail, the Mini is nearly 20 inches shorter. It's also roughly 4 inches narrower and sits about 1.5 inches lower on a shorter wheelbase. Not surprising then, that the Cooper S has an as-tested curb weight of 2,623 pounds, some 575 pounds less than the C30.

Then there's the Mini's overboost feature. It cranks up the turbo for short bursts to increase torque as high as 192 lb-ft. This output, combined with a limited-slip differential, helps our Mini turn a 6.9-second 0-60-mph time just 0.3 slower than the Volvo. At the quarter-mile, our Mini surpasses the C30's performance, as the Cooper S records a 15.0-second pass at 93.9 mph versus the Volvo's 15.1-second effort at 94.3 mph.

One Stops Shorter, the Other Slaloms Faster
Neither of these hatchbacks enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to braking or handling. The Mini is slightly better on the brakes with a solid pedal feel and a 115-foot stop from 60 mph. The Volvo isn't far behind with a 117-foot stop, but its soft pedal makes the distance feel longer.

Through the slalom, the Mini has everything going for it: a smaller size, quicker steering, upgraded 17-inch wheels with 205/45R17 Dunlop SP Sport tires plus the optional sport suspension. It comes through with a blistering 68.5-mph run, a fast speed for any car in any class.

Then the Volvo threads through the same set of cones at 69.1 mph. Sure, the body rolls more and more steering input is required, but the speed speaks for itself. It's easy to push the C30 hard thanks to loads of grip from the standard 215/45R18 Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires. It also has a stable, well-sorted chassis (derived from the Mazda 3) and accurate steering. The C30 held its own on the skid pad, too, with a 0.85g versus the Mini's 0.87g.

It's a Different Story on the Highway
So the Volvo is bigger and more powerful, yet no faster in a straight line; the Mini is smaller and feels more nimble, but its slalom speeds are slower. Two good performances, but neither car has a clear advantage, so we left the drag strip for some real roads.

After some highway miles, the C30 takes a slight edge on our scoring sheet. Between the soft seats, the expansive field of view and the simplicity of its controls, the Volvo feels immediately familiar. There's nothing to figure out with the C30. It has simple, clear gauges right in front of you, a twist-and-turn ignition key and pictograph-identified climate controls.

The suspension that helps deliver the C30's surprising slalom times isn't the least bit stiff, either. On the highway, the C30 feels isolated from the pavement, with none of the road noise you would expect from its aggressive tires. Turbo whine is virtually nonexistent so the engine is quiet, too.

There's nothing vague about the Mini. It gets right to the point by clearly communicating the texture of the road surface through the steering wheel. The switch to electric steering certainly hasn't dulled the Cooper's reflexes, although the car does feel slightly less twitchy over rough pavement. And unlike the first Cooper S that rode too harshly when equipped with the optional run-flat tires and sport suspension, the latest Cooper S has the right bushings to keep hard impacts in check without compromising road feel.

While it may not be as comfortable as the C30, the Mini is still accommodating. You sit far more upright in the Cooper S and the windshield is a little low if you're tall, but overall the view is good and the seats are supportive.

It takes more time to get used to the Cooper S, though, as Mini insists on being different when it should be simple. There's no key, just a fob that you insert into the dash before hitting the start button. The centrally located speedometer still annoys us and the radio controls are poorly placed.

The Mini Takes Over
On more entertaining roads, the advantage swings the other way and the Mini is the clear winner. The immediacy of its steering, its lack of body roll and the predictable levels of cornering grip allow you to push hard into any corner with complete confidence. The cornering transitions of its lightweight chassis are quick and the brakes always feel strong. You simply don't fear what this car will do, and even if you push too hard the stability control system intrudes only briefly.

There are some problems, like the Sport button that doesn't seem to do much. The shift linkage isn't perfect either, but it has straight throws and solid gates, so you can whip through the gears quickly without being delicate.

Power from the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine is remarkable. It might only have 4 horsepower more than its predecessor, but it feels stronger and revs smoother. Mileage isn't bad either, as the Mini averaged 26.4 mpg during the test.

Go straight from the Mini to the C30 over the same roads and the Volvo feels like a rolling bean bag. All the controls the steering, the shift lever and the brake pedal feel isolated and imprecise. You can still have fun, as the capability is there, but everything feels geared toward less stressful cruising.

There's also loads of understeer, and when you power out of corners, the front tires wind up in a ball of torque steer. Longer, sweeping corners suit the C30 much better. With the accurate steering and plentiful grip, the C30 will hustle through fast turns, but it never has the eagerness of the Mini.

Daily Grind Goes to the Volvo
As fun as it is to thrash the Mini and the Volvo at the track and in the mountains, they'll spend more, if not all, of their time as daily drivers. For such chores, the Volvo is a far more agreeable hatchback.

All that softness we felt in the mountains translates into pure relaxation around town. The shift lever feels weightless as long as you're not trying to jam it into gear and the steering is equally light at low speeds.

You can also fit four real people in the Volvo with cargo room to spare, and once the rear seats are folded down there are just over 20 cubic feet of usable space. Basic stuff like storage bins and the cupholders are better in the C30 as well, and the stereo is one of the best you'll find at this price. Everything in the cabin looks and feels a step above the Mini, too.

You can't beat the Mini's size when it comes to parking in tight spots, but the car's overall dimensions take their toll when it comes to practicality. There's just not enough room to do much in the Mini if it involves anything more than the driver and a passenger. Rear-seat passenger room is laughable, and although folding the seats opens up more measurable space than the Volvo, it is not as usable because of the shape of the floor.

Storage space is in short supply in the Mini, and placing the cupholders right in front of the shifter lever hasn't been Mini's brightest idea. And the choice of materials isn't great either, as they all look a bit cheaper than we remember from the first Mini.

Two Very Good and Very Different Hatchbacks
On the surface, these two hatchbacks might be battling for the same customers, but once you dig deeper, it's clear they're very different cars. The Mini Cooper S is still built for the true enthusiast. It forces you to give up some comfort and convenience for a purer experience when you toss it into a corner. Nothing new to that equation, but the C30 makes that compromise a little more obvious.

The Volvo isn't the opposite of the Mini by any means. The C30 proves that it can deliver the right numbers if you push it hard enough and it's equally as stylish as the Cooper, both inside and out. Drive the C30 every day, however, and you'll realize that it's much happier at a lazy pace. If you are, too, buy the C30.


C30 does much better than I thought it would.
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Old 08-28-2007, 01:45 AM   #2
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Indeed it does. I really want to test drive one now.

Oh, and there was one on the TV show The 4400 last night
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:01 AM   #3
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impressive, i think i would still go for a MINI though.
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:07 AM   #4
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mini > volvo
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:13 AM   #5
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I'd take the C30. The Mini's interior would drive me nuts.
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenk View Post
I'd take the C30. The Mini's interior would drive me nuts.
You mean the pizza pie speedometer?!?!? That thing gets bigger and bigger every year it seems. It's absolutely horrendous. Let's keep it a novelty and not some gianormous monstrocity.

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Old 08-28-2007, 03:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Spenk View Post
I'd take the C30. The Mini's interior would drive me nuts.
I really like the MINI interior, its not boring like every other interior out there... The Volvo interiors right now feel very ford-ish.
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post
I really like the MINI interior, its not boring like every other interior out there... The Volvo interiors right now feel very ford-ish.
At first, I was kinda meh on the new MINI interior. I really like it now. I think it looks better built than our 05 MCS.

~~Quentin
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:03 PM   #9
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I love the setup with the factory GPS option. Very nice!
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:17 PM   #10
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i have an 07 S and love it
i rarely look at the speedo. You can have a digital readout on the center (smaller) tach.

Tom
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:17 PM   #11
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oh yeah and if you are spending all of your time looking at the speedo instead of the road infront of you. you are doing something wrong!
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:32 PM   #12
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It's not the speedo that bugs me -- the whole IP looks Playskool. Too much whimsy for my tastes.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:36 PM   #13
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I have been so excited for the new C30 and just saw one the other day and was soooo stoked! I can't wait until they bring out an AWD version.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:55 PM   #14
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I'm not a fan of the mini's interior either. It looks like a children's toy. But to each their own
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:05 PM   #15
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I'm a little surprised at how 'slow' the Cooper S is to 60. The power it's putting out is nuts for the rating and the displacement... coupled with the gas mileage, it's a mind blowing package.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenk View Post
It's not the speedo that bugs me -- the whole IP looks Playskool. Too much whimsy for my tastes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by roksax View Post
I'm not a fan of the mini's interior either. It looks like a children's toy. But to each their own
I think youthful exuberance is the market they're aiming for.. hence why it's so childishly fun to drive.
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:11 PM   #16
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I drove a Mini the other day and as a second car in the family it would be terrific. But I think It would beat me to death on highways for long driving days. I saw a C30 in Columbus last year at the car show and thought that this is what Subaru should have looked at when styling the new Impreza. Might have to see if any exist around here to go for a test drive.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:52 PM   #17
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I really love the C30, but I went to Volvo's site earlier today to price one out, and it begins to rise VERY quickly once you start adding on the options.

Just a few options and I was already at nearly $30,000!

While I really like the C30, and I think it would make a great daily driver, the price is a little too rich for my blood for what you get.
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:33 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roksax View Post
I'm not a fan of the mini's interior either. It looks like a children's toy. But to each their own
Hummer H2/H3 interior and FJ cruiser interior = Children's toy.

MINI interior = actually interesting interior.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geese1 View Post
I really love the C30, but I went to Volvo's site earlier today to price one out, and it begins to rise VERY quickly once you start adding on the options.

Just a few options and I was already at nearly $30,000!

While I really like the C30, and I think it would make a great daily driver, the price is a little too rich for my blood for what you get.
It's priced almost exactly as a new WRX is....Version 2.0 starts at $25700 and as long as you stay away from the nav option ($2200 !! lol!! what a laugher) you can get a nicely appointed car for around $27500 (cold weather package, xenons, killer stereo,etc).

plus it looks better.

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Old 08-29-2007, 10:34 AM   #20
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The problem with the C30 and NAV. No Aftermarket options other than something with suction cup. And installing the OEM one later is about twice the cost, because you need to replace the steering wheel as well(controls).
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:38 AM   #21
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I test drove a C30 on Saturday. It's a very nice car, and I would definitely consider getting one. The article hit on the same complaints I had.. numb steering, rubbery shifter and the brakes don't have a lot of initial bite (reminds me of the lgt). But the engine is really nice, the interior is very nice. I love the floating center console.







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Old 08-29-2007, 10:47 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LastResort View Post
The problem with the C30 and NAV. No Aftermarket options other than something with suction cup. And installing the OEM one later is about twice the cost, because you need to replace the steering wheel as well(controls).

I may be in the minority here, but if getting a great performing/fun car into my budget means nixing a nav I will rarely use I have NO problems doing that.

and 2200 bucks JUST for nav is ridiculous (the car comes standard with the nice stereo, etc -- things that are often bundled in with nav on other cars).

Besides, even the nav on my cell phone works fine in a pinch.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:50 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stonebaru View Post
It's priced almost exactly as a new WRX is....Version 2.0 starts at $25700 and as long as you stay away from the nav option ($2200 !! lol!! what a laugher) you can get a nicely appointed car for around $27500 (cold weather package, xenons, killer stereo,etc).

I think the new WRX is overpriced too...

Quote:
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plus it looks better.
Agreed.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:54 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stonebaru View Post
I may be in the minority here, but if getting a great performing/fun car into my budget means nixing a nav I will rarely use I have NO problems doing that.
Ditto on that. I've got a map.
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:07 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LastResort View Post
The problem with the C30 and NAV. No Aftermarket options other than something with suction cup. And installing the OEM one later is about twice the cost, because you need to replace the steering wheel as well(controls).
I'm sure it'll be just a matter of time for aftermarket to figure something out. But I prefer the portable Nav... load it up, use it, tuck it away

Buddy of mine has the C30's in, I'm going to need to do a test drive and give some feedback.
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