Saturday, February 24, 2007

Save the Burbles!!

There has been a lot of debate within the MINI community over the changes that were made from the 2002-2006 MINI with the release of the 2007 MINI. There have been claims of BMW softening the car for the general consumer, the car losing its soul or character, not having the same driving feel, changes made for profit, and that it is ugly. As US consumers begin to test drive the new MINI and compare it to the previous generation, some feel their concerns over the changes have been justified, while others discover that the new MINI has retained nearly all of the character the previous car - it is all a matter of perception.

I have always been in the optimist camp regarding the 2007 MINI. As information was revealed over the past year at MotoringFile about the R56, I was thrilled to hear about the improved power of the new engines, the slightly reduced weight of the new body, and the maintained handling characteristics of the previous generation car (R50/R53).

However, as information about how MINI has attempted to mainstream the car by smoothing the rough edges, I began to be concerned. There were often complaints that the Cooper S had too rough of a ride, so in response, MINI made the Sport Suspension a cost option on the Cooper S like it is on the Cooper. The throttle and steering response were viewed as too responsive by the non-enthusiast customer, so the responsiveness was toned down. Fortunately, MINI has included the Sport Button to return the car's agility. Finally, after the MINIUSA press day in Arizona, Gabe from MotoringFile reported that the exhaust burble was removed from US specification cars due to customer complaints about the backfiring noises (known as burbling to the MINI community) the 2005 and 2006 MINI Cooper S made. I was stunned.

When I first heard this video on YouTube of the 2007 Cooper S exhaust, I was thrilled with the thought of putting around town in my MINI - it growling and snarling at every mundane SUV, minivan, and Honda Civic it passed. Unfortunately, MINI made a "refinement" without providing an alternative for the enthusiast. From what I understand, the loss of the burble is an ECU adjustment, so it should be programmable, so I think that it should be available upon request.

I don't know what must be done to save the burbles, but if they can be exterminated due to complaints, then they can be revived through the same means!! SAVE THE BURBLES!!! Let your Motoring Advisor you want a noisy MINI!

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