For the current generation of car enthusiasts, the Mini Cooper isn’t a car that most would even think of when wanting to get a car that leaves you grinning for hours. I’ve met some people who has never seen or even heard of the film “The Italian Job”, both the 1969 version and the 2003 remake (crazy right?!) This is mind boggling because the three main cars used in both films for all the stunts and car chases are the Mini Cooper. Granted, in the older film, the BMC Mini Coopers aren’t the same ones you see in the 2003 remake, but nonetheless, still a Mini Cooper.
I bring up the film references because there is a reason why the Mini Cooper is such an iconic car. It quite literally has Go-Kart like handling and is a very quick & nimble car as well as looking super British. It turns nearly flat and grips the road like it’s on rails. It’s a fantastic little machine and deserves to be recognized as one of the best handling small cars in the world. In the films, you see three Union-Jack themed Mini Coopers weaving through traffic (we don’t recommend you doing this), driving down multiple flights of stairs, speeding away from Edward Norton and his Trail Blazer (also very easily and through traffic), fitting in super tight spaces, stuffing the impressively large trunk with a bunch of heavy gold bricks, and almost equally as impressive as the space inside, fitting a 5’10” Charlize Theron in the driver seat with room to spare. In the deleted scenes, the actress even says that she had to considerably scoot up the driver seat to be able to sit comfortably.
The current generation, the 3rd Generation F56 Mini Cooper S, is absolutely no exception to the heritage that is the “Mini”. Spanning over a decade in the new world, the R53 Supercharged Mini Cooper S and the R56 Turbocharged Mini Cooper S have both proven themselves to be worthy adversaries to their small-car counterparts. Capable of reaching 400 horsepower to the wheels (turbo versions), the Mini Cooper S is definitely not a car to dismiss. The new F56 is still a baby in the aftermarket tuning world but I assure you, that chassis will get it’s turn to shine. With proper Modification, the Mini Cooper S can be a rocket of a car and be the car that you’ll be seeing zoom past you. Genuinely, I put together a list of the 4 best mods you can get (currently) for the newest addition to the Mini Cooper S lineage.
1. Roll in Style with Better Aftermarket Wheels!
The first modification you or anybody ever notices are the wheels on the car. The wheels can determine if someone walks right past it saying “meh” or stopping in their tracks and saying “whoa…”. Nobody likes having their pride and joy dismissed, especially if their car. There’s a connection with a car and it’s driver that can only be understood if you love your car the way an enthusiast does.
That connection is shown to the world with a fresh set of wheels. The wheels say a lot about the driver but more importantly, shows the admirers that the person driving said car really cares about the exterior aesthetics. It’s another further extension of the driver’s personality, so naturally, the wheel style and wheel design reflect the enthusiast.
*NOTE – 2015+ F56 MINI IS 5X112mm PCD*
Almost immediately, when I think of a great looking wheel that for sure breaks necks and grabs all the attention are the Avant Garde M310 Wheels (particularly in Hyper Silver) for the F56 Mini Cooper S. They look absolutely gorgeous and fits the car’s style as if it was made specifically to be on the Mini.
This wheel rocks the classy, mesh design that never goes out of style. No matter from where you look or which angle you view this wheel, it really pops and keeps your jaw dropping. It’s okay, wipe the drool off, we understand.
The concavity of the spokes are unique to Avant Garde and definitely separate themselves from other mesh designs. These wheels are lighter and stronger than your stock wheels and are great to throw on when you want to show off at the next car show or track day.
ModBargains stocks these wheels because they’re so popular and they practically change your car into something you’ll constantly look at.
If the mesh style design isn’t exactly what you’re aiming for, then the NM Engineering RSe05 Wheels are another fantastic choice to think about! The wheel is a simple, 5-spoke design that still stands out and looks unique to NM Engineering products.
They look fantastic! Never forget, simpler might usually be better. People are too occupied with the new trend in wheel designs and lose track of a good-looking wheel. The RSe05 is timeless and will always look awesome!
With a fresh spin in the wheel industry, Fiften52 has proven themselves to be one of the best wheels you can get for your car. They look awesome, they fit very well, and are super strong (refer to any of Ken Block’s Gymkhana videos). They might not appeal to some people, but after just looking at them and appreciating them on any car, particularly the F56 Mini, then you begin to grin in agreement that YES they look DOPE. The Fifteen52 Tarmac Wheels in 17″ give the car a more modern, fresh look and the flat face design matches perfectly with the Mini.
2. Improve Your Handling with Better Suspension!
The Mini Cooper is famous for its “go-kart” handling and has very few competitors that actually surpass it when it comes to cornering. The F56 – stock – does handle fairly amazing right out the factory but with the right modifications, your Mini Cooper S can handle 100x better and be completely neutral and flat in any situation. Improving your suspension and handling characteristics is what differentiates you between the normal guys and the real, hardcore car enthusiasts.
One of the best in the automotive industry specifically for the Mini Cooper is NM Engineering. With years of development starting with the 1st generation Mini Cooper S, NM Engineering is of the highest of qualities with their products. The NM Engineering RS Alpha Spring Kit lowers your car 1.2-1.3″ and massively improves the handling characteristics of your F56. After installing these, the suspension will feel slightly stiffer but not in a bad way and the car will just overall feel more solid around any and every turn.
With a proper set of wheels, or even on stock wheels (though we hopefully wish you have aftermarket wheels on your lowered ride – refer to the top section of this blog for suggestions), your Mini Cooper S will look like a completely different car. Almost like a complete makeover but actually beneficial for the car.
Another great option for lowering springs for the F56 are the H&R Sport Spring Set. H&R has decades of experience with their suspension products and they’re a serious contender when it comes to performance, handling, and comfortability. They won’t lower AS MUCH as other brands (1.1″ all around) but when it comes to lowering springs, the lowered ride height is pretty much fixed. These springs offer a more aggressive look, somewhat “raked” where the front end is SLIGHTLY lower than the rear end. It’s not a bad thing, but it is sexy to look at.
Once you’ve lowered the center of gravity with a set of springs (or coilovers – see below) you absolutely must consider upgrading your rear sway bar. Sway bars are meant to connect the two opposing axles to reduce body lean/roll when cornering at any speed. I know it doesn’t sound like something you should care about but this is actually quite an important upgrade to seriously think about.
Your stock rear sway bar is cool, it’s just there to be there and it compliments the car nicely – the way a stock car should be complimented. But your car isn’t stock; your F56 is legit. It’s got mods and ready to tear up the track and the canyons. Your pre-track car deserves a better rear sway bar to further carve up the corners and the NM Engineering 22mm Sport Rear Sway Bar is the ticket to getting faster lap times, quicker turn-ins, and a much more immersive driving experience. Sure you could always just rock the stock sway bar and learn from it, but why do that?
Lowering springs definitely help with not only the height adjustment, but with improving the car’s handling abilities. If you want to improve it even more, then the next option for you is upgrading your upgraded suspension for coilovers. A coilover is a spring/shock combination in one unit that directly compliments each other for optimal suspension performance. A great coilover brand to really consider are the KW Suspension Coilovers for the F56 Mini Cooper S. Available in 3 different versions, no matter which one you get, the improvement on the handling feel of the Mini will be massive.
These coilovers are probably one of the few coilover products that can be tied with only a handful of other brands to be “the best”. The most basic coilover, the KW V1 (variant 1) Coilover, is only height adjustable, depending on your car goals, will be more than a sufficient suspension upgrade for your F56. The pre-set dampening for the V1 are already set so that you’re driving a still comfortable car while also being able to feel the road much more and have that semi-racecar feeling as you spirit through the canyons or on the track. They’re awesome. Period.
The KW Variant 2 and 3 are more advanced versions of the V1, with more adjustability options like dampening and rebound control. They’re also pretty cool and are more for the dude who frequents the track more since they are built to withstand a rough environment. Regardless, any KW Suspension coilover system is a great choice and you receive a quite a bit for what you’re paying for.
3. Go Faster and Hit Harder with MORE Power!
The best, initial and probably the most obvious way to gain power and sound more aggressive is upgrading to a better, more dynamic and efficient exhaust system. The stock exhaust on the F56, or rather, ANY car for that matter, is exceedingly restrictive and makes your car really quiet and unnoticeable and really just…monotonous. Nobody wants a car like that, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want your F56 Mini Cooper S fall into that undesirable category either.
The AWE Tuning Track / Touring Exhaust for the F56 Mini Cooper S is an awesome first choice and should definitely be considered when upgrading your stupid stock exhaust. It will grant you way more power, approximately 10hp and 19 ft/lbs of torque and will absolutely make your Mini sound simply staggering. No more quiet little hatchback; say hello to the super sweet head-turning AWE Tuning Exhaust!
The Touring version of this exhaust are for the people who want a sound that doesn’t scream at the car they’re passing but more (or less) yell at them kindly. I know that probably makes zero sense, but in other words, the exhaust will be loud enough to notice but not loud enough to make your ears bleed. It offers a pleasant in-cabin driving experience and the moment you put your pedal to the metal, the exhaust note changes the very core of your driving ability into the mindset of an adrenaline junkie. It’s a great exhaust, without a doubt.
There are enthusiasts out there that might think their subtle-yet-noticeable exhaust isn’t quite enough sound for them. If you’re one of those guys, and for damn sure I am, you want an exhaust that offers the same if not slightly better benefits of the Touring exhaust but with more UMMPH – more KICK – more SOUND. The AWE Tuning Track Edition exhaust is exactly that. It’ll provide a more “raw” exhaust tone and should not be considered to be quiet by no means. It’s loud. Seriously.
AWE Tuning in regards to the Track Edition exhaust, Just to let you readers know, this system cannot be returned or exchanged base upon volume preference. The tone gets particularly loud on manual transmission cars in the mid-range RPM and for that reason, we strongly recommend the Track Edition for manual cars. The Track Edition Exhaust (for manual Minis only) can be converted into a Touring Edition Exhaust by adding the AWE Tuning Resonator.
Available with different top options, such as 102mm Chrome Silver Tips and 102mm Diamond Black Tips, your F56 can truly look like a racecar from the back. Up close, the exhaust looks even sexier. The fitment for this exhaust is perfect, it’s a simple, direct bolt-on exhaust and NO check engine light (CEL) will turn on, guaranteed. It’s built to be a clean, straight-through design to maximize exhaust flow and performance. This exhaust system is pretty great for it’s price and should for sure be a contestant exhaust for your Mini Cooper S.
A big brand that has been around the automotive community for decades is Remus. They have produced, time and time again, amazing exhaust systems and have shown the world what cars are supposed to sound like. They don’t just create exhaust systems that sound good, they even look good. With a diverse, wide array of tip options and the freedom to choose just an axle-back exhaust or a full turbo-back exhaust, Remus Innovation Exhaust is second to no one when it comes to top-quality, mouth-drooling standard of efficient exhaust systems.
Check out the Remus Cat-Back/Axle Back Exhaust Powersound for the F56 Mini Cooper S. This baby sounds so good, it would seem as if the stock exhaust is an abomination of metal piping that was just molded and thrown onto the car to pass production. This Remus exhaust is by far one of the best sounding, music-to-your-ears, smile-inducing, jaw-dropping, “wow, I didn’t know a Mini could sound so epic” exhaust systems in the market today. Listen for yourself. No amount of words I can think of can describe the breathtaking sounds this Remus exhaust makes.
4. Breathe In Better with an Upgraded Intake!
Many times does a stock car from the factory come with a super confining intake / air box and more often than not it just barely functions properly. I mean, it works, don’t get me wrong, but that’s pretty much it. Functional. There are absolutely zero gains with retaining the stock intake in your car and even more so in an already underdog of a car that is the Mini Cooper.
The F56 deserves a better breathing, clear nostril of an intake and luckily for you, there are a good few intake options that offer a great sound and better power gains!
First up is the NM Engineering Hi-Flow Intake in Red, and heads up, this intake comes also in Black, and Blue. The color really doesn’t matter here, but the fact that the intake is available with color options is pretty cool. With this intake, your F56 will enjoy a much more meaty sound and actually enhance the engine and turbo noise of your Mini Cooper S. Throttle response improves dramatically and you’ll notice it the moment your toes touch the gas pedal. NM Engineering have truly outdone themselves with this product.
Aren’t these just marvelous to stare at? Comes with a high-heat wall shield, Billet Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Fitting, and have OEM mount locations! Quality is second to none and this part is really simple and easy to install! DIY (do it yourself) time would take somewhere around 30 minutes, give or take 15 min depending on your car-modding experience.
If you’re looking for an intake more aggressive and consequently a little more expensive, but for good reason, then the AWE Tuning S-Flo Intake for the F56 Mini Cooper S is the best match for you! The OEM inlet ducting utilizes high air pressure with absolutely perfect integration for a full RAM Air improvement. With this intake, expect very impressive mid-range power gain and an amazing addition to your engine bay.
With a dyno-proven gain of +9 wheel horsepower and +10lbs/ft of torque, this carbon fiber intake also with a carbon fiber heat shield keeps the intake super cool and gives you a much more satisfying engine tone. The AWE Tuning S-Flo Intake helps make a sound that will just mutate your face into a permanently smiling, grinning, possibly giggling face. It’s fantastic.
We appreciate you taking the time to read our blog articles so thanks again! ModBargains is here to help you all out with modifying your car because at the end of the day, we’re all passionate about one thing – cars. If you have an F56 Mini Cooper S and are looking at modding it or just making a simple upgrade like a new set of wheels, we invite you to talk to the Modification Experts. They have all the know how in the world and have had years of experience with numerous vehicles. Call us at 714-582-3330 to speak to our Enthusiastic Mod Experts or chat live at ModBargains.com to get expert advice on your next bolt on.
Story by Jaybee Valledor