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Old 17-01-2018, 09:29 AM   #1
gazwad
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Default Does anything else drive like a mini?

A question I've been wondering for a while, the mini is legendary for it's handling and when well set-up with a good amount of power the driving dynamics of a mini are fantastic and no other car I have driven feels as good or fun to drive. There are certainly lots are cars that are faster in a straight line and even a lot that are faster through the bends these days but none I have driven even come close to the feel of a mini and I can't think of anything that would give the same driving experience. The only car I've driven that came close was a series 1 lotus elise but that was a 2 seater sports car and even that didn't feel as good as a mini.
Has anyone driven anything that has a similar feel and responsiveness to the mini? Surely all these years on one of the car manufacturers must have made something as good?
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Old 17-01-2018, 10:45 AM   #2
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The Toyota MR2 Mk1 is close..
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Old 17-01-2018, 11:28 AM   #3
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Difficult one to answer as there is also degrees of opinion here. Handling is not really something that can be measured. You can measure lateral G and stuff like that but handling is more about subjective feel. Years ago I remember having a debate with a guy who claimed his Pug 106 Rallye handled really well after he fitted coilovers. He then went on to say that at the limited it snapped and span if he went too fast in to a corner. He insisted this was good handling. I suggested that it was bad handling but good grip. What he was experiencing was higher lateral G but that handling was more the transition from grip to sliding. I suggested that he would probably find a standard 106 would handle better and at the speeds he was starting to spin the standard car would be sliding but still be gripping but the driver would have more control over the slide. His snapped and span he did not have control, he just had more confidence to push it as the car gripped more.

I think without a doubt modern cars out grip a Mini through the twisties but the mini instils more confidence to push where as modern cars will grip and then either start understeering or some start oversteering and that is where the Mini is king (thinking about Smokey Rhodes on a track).

Beyond that tweaking Mini suspension does upset that feel. I remember many years ago fitting my first set of neg camber arms and immediately feeling the extra front grip and thought it was great. When I sold the car I took them off and drove the car with the standard front arms for a week or two before it went and suddenly realising it had less grip but better confidence when pushing.

That being said (and I know some will not believe this) but two cars I drove which felt better than a Mini were both small Daihatsus. The first was the Sirion (M100) - I only drove the 4wd versions, they are so neutral and chuckable. The other was the Charade (L250). This was amazing on its skinny 155 tyres it was totally 4 wheel driftable as it was so well balanced, I couldn't believe it. It also had a 1 litre 3 pot engine which sounded mental when revved.

Both these cars, like a Mini, are light whereas a lot of modern cars are so heavy and I think that will always affect the "feel" of the car which no amount of clever geometry will make up for.

IMHO of course
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Old 17-01-2018, 12:28 PM   #4
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Default Does anything else drive like a mini?

It gives up in a bend before a Mini would, but I my Mrs used to have a Fiat Seicento Sporting that reminded me a lot of my old standard 78 1000.
Steering wheel wasnít quite straight, pointy steering and a smile while driving it.


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Old 17-01-2018, 03:12 PM   #5
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It'd have to be something small, light, FWD, and with no power steering to be a close comparison really.

Nothing I've driven with that criteria feels remotely like a mini What Oz said about it not being about grip but about controllability is bang on. Most modern cars will outgrip a mini, but there aren't many that are as easy to drive beyond the limits of grip.
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Old 17-01-2018, 03:23 PM   #6
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Personally after owning 3 of them i'd say Series 1 Peugeot 106 Rallye with its steel wheels and great little 1.3 engine
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Old 17-01-2018, 03:24 PM   #7
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As a one off I was lent a Suzuki Wagon R. This has a 750cc 3 pot engine. It revved to 7500. It was pretty hopeless low in the revs but above 5k was pretty good. Think they are about 80bhp. You could throw it into corners and was fun controlling the slid out. Had 145 tyres. Only drove it for 30 mins but I thought it did drive similarly to a standard Mini.

I have to say it's a horrible looking thing though.
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Old 17-01-2018, 03:58 PM   #8
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mk1 swift GTI was a good laugh, with some wider wheels and tyres and a couple choice suspension and geo mods they're very capable in the twisties too. I'd love to try one with a power steering delete but they're pretty damn rare these days.
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Old 17-01-2018, 04:11 PM   #9
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205 gti isnít far off, can chuck it in and it just grips. Just watch out for lift off oversteer


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Old 17-01-2018, 04:18 PM   #10
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As a one off I was lent a Suzuki Wagon R. This has a 750cc 3 pot engine. It revved to 7500. It was pretty hopeless low in the revs but above 5k was pretty good. Think they are about 80bhp. You could throw it into corners and was fun controlling the slid out. Had 145 tyres. Only drove it for 30 mins but I thought it did drive similarly to a standard Mini.

I have to say it's a horrible looking thing though.
Yup, exactly the same with the L250 Charade I had. I couldn't live with it on a day to day as it was gutless and slow but for a b road and urban blast it rivalled a Mini. These cars were largely designed to be hacked around Tokyo and other large Japanese cities so I suspect they know a trick or two about getting these small cars to be fun. In Europe its all about getting fast 'Ring times which rarely translate to a fun car in the real world of traffic and roundabouts
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Old 17-01-2018, 05:17 PM   #11
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I had a Citroen AX GTI which was great and in its day was a quick little car
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Old 18-01-2018, 11:44 PM   #12
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Which would you prefer as a better handling mini:
saloon vs lwb mini?
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Old 19-01-2018, 08:18 AM   #13
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Mini is Mini. That's why people love it. It's unique and was affordable, with go cart handling. Then you could do whatever you wanted to do it to put your own stamp on it. A car that you could tinker with.

Totally different type of car, but if I wanted another classic with great performance and loads of fun it would be a Honda S800 Convertible. Another pocket rocket.
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Old 19-01-2018, 09:48 AM   #14
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some good replies here, the mini used to be an everyday normal car that people bought and used as a main car, the advantage being they were great to drive. Now they are too valuable etc to really be abused as an everyday hack as once they are nackered/rusted out they warrant restoration rather than just scrap it and buy another. so my question is asking is there anything out there that is modern-ish that is as fun to drive but also equally useable as an everyday hack then can be binned when it's knackered. I don't think there is, I don't believe any car manufacturer has made something in the last 15 odd years that is light, practical, cheap and awesome to drive. The problem being that even base models of small 'city' cars are huge heavy things filled with electric everything, massive seats etc etc and the handling is the same as everything else as they all share common suspension components (for cost) and have oversize wheels and tyres due to styling. This is not the manufacturers fault as they are simply building what the general public demands but I can't help feeling they are missing a trick.
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Old 19-01-2018, 09:55 AM   #15
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If it's just cheap ships and giggles you want and scrap it when you're finished there's only two options worth considering IMO:

Civic EP3
R53 Cooper S

Both can be had for £1500. Scrap the EP3 and keep the engine, there's half the value back. Scrap the R53 and you're doing everyone a favour

Neither really drive like a mini though, but bang for buck they're the cheap modern equivalents.
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