Mini Cooper S vs. Mazda 3S

I am evaluting purchasing a Mini Cooper S vs a Mazda 3S for my wife. She is leaning towards the Mini. Both cars are in demand right now so there is no discount from the sticker price.
The Mini Cooper S with the #1 premium package is $23,000 + TTL. The Mazda 3S five door with ABS brakes, Side Air Bags, Moonroof and 6 CD is $19,370 + TTL. The Mini has a 6 speed manual, the Mazda has a 5 speed manual.
The Mini requires premium fuel. The Mazda requires regular fuel. The gas milage is the same for both 25 mpg city, 32 mpg road. 13.2 gal tank for the Mini, 14.5 gal tank for the Mazda.
The Mini is 55.8 in tall, the Madza is 57.7 in tall. The Mini is 143.9 in long, the Mazda is 176.6 in long. The Mini weighs 2679 lbs, the Mazda weighs 2826 lbs.
The Mazda has an excellent reliability rating from Consumer Reports. The Mini has below average reliability rating from Consumer Reports but an excellent satisfaction rating (does not make sense !).
OK, what now ? How do I make a choice ?
Thanks, Lynn
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Quite simple really - drive both - then buy the one that makes you grin and gives you a warm and satisfied - but pleasureable feeling inside.
I have a good idea which one it will be !!
PS - Don't know much about the Mazda 3S, but is it really in the same 170BHP 135MPH league as the Cooper S ? Have you considered a plain Cooper ?
Cheerz - Brownz http://mini.brownz.org /
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She liked driving the Mini better. The Mazda 3S has a 2.3L, 160 bhp engine which really performs well.
Why consider the plain cooper ? We drove both the regular mini and the S mini. The regular mini was nice but the S mini was awesome. There is only about $2,500 difference in price between the two here in Houston, TX.
Thanks, Lynn
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Lynn,
Go to an auto manufacturer like Ford (Mazda) and do a comparison.
Here's one I used (not exactly a fair matchup on my part):
http://www.fordvehicles.com/cars/mustang/compare/details/?vehicles 329| 15800|16360|16440
Puts everything in a different light.
Andy
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Cool ! Did this one: http://www.fordvehicles.com/cars/mustang/compare/details/?vehicles 329|15800|16360|16105
Lynn
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Lynn,
Great!
Horsepower/warranty/gas mileage/features...
Decisions, decisions!
Too bad you can't rent these cars at Hertz or somewhere! I put 2000 miles on a brand new Jaguar XJ-8 (200 miles on check-out) from Hertz! :)))
That's a FUN car, but for the money... I'd get his and hers MCS's or Mazda 3s'.
Happy hunting,
Andy
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One more thing to consider - resale value. MINI is #1 in its class retaining 61% after 3 years. Plus I think you already made your decision - "The regular mini was nice but the S mini was awesome." I didn't see where you said the same thing about the competition. I sell them so I have a totally unbiased opinion (right!). No other car comes close to providing as much safety as standard equipment as the MINI. 6 airbags, ABS, Electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control, all season traction control, etc. - it is no contest. And there is no price you can put on the fun factor.
Regards... Steve snipped-for-privacy@westchesterbmw.com

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Steve,
The fun factor is too important! Agreed.
I bought a VW GTI/VR6 5-spd. in 1998 and it's fun factor persists to this day.
I hate arriving!!!
I attended a rollout of the new Mini years ago and the surreal thing about it for me was, at 6'3" tall, I slipped into the driver's seat only to be wrapped in comfort that wasn't evident from the outside. That was awesome!
The whole Mini line represents superb engineering.
I WILL own one!
All the best,
Andy
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You've done the spec evaluation and there's no denying the facts: the Mazda is cheaper, bigger, more comfortable, will use less and cheaper fuel, and probably more reliable. If you're objectively evaluating a car on the basis of which car is "better" on paper, the Mazda is the way to go.
But the Mazda will not look like a Mini, will not handle like one, will not have the style of one, and for most, isn't nearly as much fun to drive. One's a rationale choice, the other the emotional one. If the Mini doesn't tug at you (or your wife) in an emotional way, then there is no contest: the Mazda is more car for the money.
The fact that CR rates the Mini below average in realiablility and above average in satisfaction makes complete sense. It speaks to the essence of the Mini - it inspires passion in a way cookie-cutter cars can't and people will put up with some troubles with their Mini's and still love them to death.
- Mark
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Although, the Road and Track long term test of a 2003 Mini Cooper S only had $580 of maintenance costs plus $445 repair costs over 26,000 miles: http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=4&article_id 73
And Motor Trend loved one too (with 19,500 miles): http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/oneyear/112_0401_up_mini / http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/oneyear/112_0408_up_mini/index.html
So, their results do not match the CR rating.
Thanks, Lynn
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I wouldn't pay much attention to the long-term reliability tests in the car magazines. They very, very seldom have much trouble as they are a sample of one and their costs don't take into account the hassles of repeated warranty repairs. Finally, they're always pre-disposed to write things up in a favorable way to keep the advertising money coming in.
The CR data isn't perfect, but it's the only statiscally valid data we have. And this data is showing what most of us are experiencing - the Mini is getting better as they work the bugs out of a new car platform. But still, I doubt it will ever match a Japanese-built Mazda. The Japanese just have the reliability thing done pat.
- Mark
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Yup, looks like the early Mini's had problems with windshields (fixed for 2003 model ?) and had problems with the rear hatch (fixed for 2004 models ?).
And even Mazda's arent as highly rated as Toyota and Honda.
Thanks, Lynn McGuire
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Improvements, but whether fixed is open to debate. The small size, stiff suspension, and vertical nature of the windshield mean it will always be tough on glass and a little more prone to hatch creaking.

True, but the average for Mazda is driven down by all the ones built in joint-ventures with Ford (e.g., Mazda 6). For Japanese-built Mazdas, they appear very well built. I believe (not sure) the Mazda 3 is Japanese-built. But you're right - if you want the most reliable small car, a Honda Civic or Toyotoa Corolla is the best bet.
- Mark
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Mark,
The Mazda3 is a Ford Focus with different skin, according to Motor Trend, or Car and Driver...don't remember which.
Rich

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To me, if you prefer the MINI, then I'd say "buy the MINI"... If you don't buy the MINI you might long for one still, but I don't think (from what you've said) you'd feel the same about the Mazda when driving about in your MINI!
Paul www.MINI2.com
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