Mini Cooper R56, the car that marks the transition from Mini to BMW. It’s no longer that established fashion accessory; now it tries to play in the big leagues. But is this the right path for the Mini Cooper R56?

If the BMW E90 transitioned from the “Ultimate Driving Machine” to “Efficient Dynamics,” the Mini Cooper R56 transitioned from simplicity to complexity. If the Mini Cooper R53 was and still is a simple and damn fun car, the Mini Cooper R56 has already tried to enter the premium zone and forget its roots. The only reason this big car is relevant today is that it strikingly resembles the previous model, and you have to be a Mini enthusiast to distinguish them. Otherwise, this shameful episode would have been swept under the rug.

What’s new with the second generation Mini Cooper?

With a 6-speed manual gearbox by Getrag, which can now be set to “Sport” or “Comfort” modes. Unfortunately, they couldn’t install the “Reliable” mode.

The intercooler has been mounted in front of the engine, and the battery has been placed next to the engine. This means that now you have a spare tire, but the air vent on the hood remains purely aesthetic.

Increased dimensions that raise the first alarm sign that the slim and tiny Mini is no longer so Mini. From the Mini Cooper R56, the fattening regime begins, and the Mini slowly turns into Maxi. Sort of like Axl Rose, who had a meteoric career in the ’80s and is now just a bloated mess with debts at the golden arches. And if we’re talking about dimensions and relaxation, the Mini Cooper R56 is much stiffer and more geared towards comfort than its predecessor.

The Mini Cooper R56 is the one that established the wrong reputation for bad cars. Yes, the R56 generation had serious reliability issues, but the rest of the Mini range is actually decent. Because of one black sheep, the entire flock must suffer.


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Mini Cooper R56 Engines


  • 1.4 “Prince” of 90 horsepower – The little prince is a French-origin engine. Coming in a 1.4-liter version, it doesn’t tear up the asphalt or grip. The natural habitat of this engine is the repair shop. About that, we’ll find out in the general issues section.
  • 1.6 “Prince” of 120 horsepower – The same little prince, increased to 1596 cubic centimeters and 120 horsepower. Reliability however wasn’t increased.
  • 1.6 turbocharged of 181 horsepower – The same 1.6 Prince that received a turbocharger and 60 more horsepower. I would have preferred to receive reliability instead of a turbo, but now you have the possibility to reach the repair shop faster.


  • 1.6 TDCi of 109 horsepower – We’ve talked about this engine in the reviews about the Ford Focus II and Peugeot 308, and on the Mini Cooper R56, the story sounds the same. A turbo with lubrication issues that fails down every 100 meters, a faulty filter that ruins the turbo, and if you don’t replace it you’ll replace the turbo many times and in vain. There are also serious issues with injectors. At least you can boast about low fuel consumption, even though most of the time you’re on the roadside, on a platform, or on an elevator.
  • 2.0d N47 of 143 horsepower – Essentially the engine from the E90 320d and E60 520d, the N47 engine is notorious for issues with the timing chain tensioner and especially for the timing chain located behind the engine. In other words, if you want to change the timing chain, you have to remove the entire engine. You’ll sing “Oh, my life” while reading the repair estimate. That is, if you can read through the tears.


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Mini Cooper R56 Reliability Issues

  • The petrol engines branded Peugeot and affectionately named “Prince” have serious issues with the timing chain. Just google “Mini cooper prince engine,” and you can marvel at the incompetence of the garlic bread eaters. There are reported cases where the timing chain jumped at only 20,000 km. This is by far the most famous issue of the Mini Cooper R56 and affects all petrol engines.
  • The Getrag gearbox returns to the spotlight due to the issues it suffers from. Like with British Leyland products, you never know what gear you’re in.
  • The high-pressure fuel pump is a common issue for all models, especially affecting petrol engines. Sometimes the high-pressure pump takes the oil pump with it because you have a BMW, and you can afford to pay, endlessly.
  • For diesel models, if the car is not used constantly the engine starts to rust inside, and the first symptom appears at the camshaft sensor. Although, why would you buy a Mini Cooper diesel?
  • Like the previous generation of Mini, the Mini Cooper R56 is a very low car that should only be driven on asphalt. Especially targeted is the catalytic converter, which will go grazing, take some grass in, heat up, and send you straight to the repair shop.
  • The windshield still sits so straight that it looks like it’s been visited by Captain Burcea. No one escapes from the windshield of a Mini Cooper R56, whether we’re talking about stones, insects, pedestrians, or other things you normally avoid with a car with a slanted windshield.


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Mini Cooper R56 Verdict

Do you want to buy a Mini to have fun with and drive on the streets of the homeland? Do you want to go to the service rarely? Then get a Mini from the previous generation. The Mini Cooper R56 has too many issues. I simply cannot recommend it. The previous generation, on the other hand, looks the same, has the same interior, and is much more reliable and fun.

What engine do I recommend for the Mini Cooper R56? I have nothing to recommend. It’s like having to recommend the easiest form of pain.