White Roof Radio – The MINI Cooper Podcast

MINI Cooper Podcasting with db, Todd, Gabe, Chad & Brian

Woofcast #179

Todd and db taking a shot at making a news show.

Looking for gory pictures of Todd’s franken-thumb? It’s in my del.icio.us. It’s pretty nasty, so consider yourself warned.

Wingnut calls in (finally) and reports that the Euro Parcel shelf has, in fact, been crash tested and no one was hurt because of it. We also do a pretty good job answering his question about brakes. We also spend some time talking about wheel sizing.

Among the news, we covered this post at Motoringfile, where I asked what’s so hot about all-wheel drive. Besides wanting/needing it for safety in bad weather or racing in the dirt, why would you want this on a MINI? I’m seeing it as a crutch. Please convince me otherwise, I honestly don’t get it.

Check back tomorrow for Gabe on the track in his R56 and Todd in St. Louis. Plus, a short update from Robert in Toronto!

Woof #179:

Download | Woof179.zip | 43:51 | 40.2MB | WRR @ iTunes

22 thoughts on “Woofcast #179

  1. My 1991 300hp twin-turbo Dodge Stealth R/T had all-wheel-drive, four-wheel steering, and 5-speed manual. Great for driving in the rain with even tire wear on all tires. This was a very heavy car. My R56 is much easier and more fun to drive.

  2. I think DB hit it on the head for that all-wheel drive thingy. Coming off the line faster from a high-rev clutch dump, and having more of an opportunity to regain traction if you’ve biff’d the corner are the advantages to all-wheel drive. My previous car of 6 years was a Subaru WRX, so having lived the AWD life, and living in the decidedly un-snowy Austin, TX, one might argue that it’s not totally necessary, in for the most part, I agree. That said, though, it is nice if it is needed.

    That said, I’m assuming, people with actual driving skills, present company not included, all-wheel drive could be a tool, rather than a crutch, for getting a car around a race track.

    But, I agree, on a car like the MINI? You don’t need it. For this car, I’m much preferring low weight and all its inherent advantages over the whiz-bang awesomeness of AWD.

  3. JCW Challenge Car is 0-62 6.1 seconds. So wouldn’t it make it 0-60 in 5.9?

    I am kinda new at this. From my experience with in the last few years. My daily driver currently is ’88 BMW 535iS until next year when I will be getting my first MINI, an ’08 MCS. I love RWD, I was skeptical about getting a MINI ’cause of FWD. My first experience with FWD was in a Toyota Carolla rental which was dreadful to drive. But after many (7) test drives. I think MINI has done a good job at making the car not really feel like a FWD car. When I drove my friends Subaru STI, yes I liked how is car handled, a lot of grip and the power was nice after 4000 rpms.

    I just thought maybe if MINI offered AWD it would have even better grip, if they keep adding more power. I think I will just add a good rear sway bar like you guys said.

  4. When was the last time a FWD car won a rallye when it was directly competing with a an AWD car?

    I honestly don’t know and it is a sincere question.

    I think any advantage that you can get is worth it. FWD hammered the competition when it first came out, now it is old technology.

    I guess I am mainly thinking about racing in dirt, which you did cover in your heading paragraph above.

    Keep up the good work. thanks~

  5. Yeah Todd, the 1987-1/2 Honda Prelude was the first production car with four wheel steering. It was an all-mechanical system where the rear wheels turned with the front wheels for the first half turn of the wheel or so. Then as you kept turning the wheel, the rear wheels come back to neutral. Then at basically parking-lot wheel imputs where you parallel parking and such, the rear wheels would turn opposite the front wheels about half the total turning swing of the fronts. From what I was told back in the day (I had a ’87 Prelude Si) was that all it was really good for was parallel parking. The 4WS version of the Prelude did worse on the skid pad than the regular Prelude did. The cornering at speed actually suffered a bit over stock, but parking the car became super easy supposedly.

    After that, the Mitsubishi 300GT VR4 and Galant VR4 both had an electronically controlled four wheel steering system that kicked in above 45 mph. And I was told back in the day, though I’m not sure, that the 300Z of that era had 4WS too.

  6. Just thought that I would comment on using racing series to make points in the AWD argument. I don’t think it’s actually a valid argument. DB brought up that they do use AWD at LeMans but said it was for testing… I don’t understand that point? The Audi’s are AWD and demolish their competition. Whether it’s the AWD or other factors, is open to debate… but they’re not for testing. They compete. In F1, their are a number of technologies that are not used – and not because necessarily because they wouldn’t be more effective. F1 is highly regulated series; turbos would be helpful but aren’t used for safety reasons (too many deaths in the ’80s), there were at one point fans being used to create a vacuum underneath the cars and those are no longer allowed either. So it’s not enough to say that it’s not used there… it’s probably not allowed. That said, I think you’re probably right teams wouldn’t use it if they could in that series because weight is so important, much more so in F1 than in 2600-2700 lbs street cars. I don’t think NASCAR should even be brought up in an argument about racing technology: pushrod V8s with what is it 3? speed transmissions and suspensions tuned for turning one direction.

    All of that said, I’m still not arguing that there should be an AWD Mini. 🙂

  7. Give me all wheel drive, coilovers to raise about 2″, add some off road tires and point me to the mountains. 😉 Besides that. Where I live in the south it would be worthless. I’ve been doing fine for a long time in the rain and like Todd. We take the day off if it’s snow on the ground since that is about the time it stays. One day.

  8. >Just thought that I would comment on using racing series to make points in the AWD argument. I don’t think it’s actually a valid argument. DB brought up that they do use AWD at LeMans but said it was for testing… I don’t understand that point?

    Not true. They are only allowed to use RWD.

    >The Audi’s are AWD and demolish their competition.

    Again not the case. They win because they have no other factory backed teams in their class other than the brand-new (and completely unexperienced) Peugeot team in ’07.

    >I don’t think NASCAR should even be brought up in an argument about racing technology: pushrod V8s with what is it 3? speed transmissions and suspensions tuned for turning one direction.

    4 speeds technically.. but yes I agree. Nascar should only be brought up if we’re talking about lawn tractors.

  9. My last car was an ’01 A3 1.8T Quattro so… while it was a Haldex AWD, it was AWD nonetheless. I must say that what I preferred over the MINI’s FWD was it’s presence on anything other than dry roads. I rarely worried about traction… OK, I worried whether or not I’d STOP in time every now and then, but it was a great “piece of mind” issue. Of course, I now live in AL where, as SB mentioned, they shut the roads down if there’s the rumor of snow so I don’t miss it as much 🙂

  10. | Not true. They are only allowed to use RWD.

    I stand corrected; could have sworn they were using AWD.

    But that feeds into my larger point that using a racing series to debate the virtues of AWD vs. RWD on a street car or near-street racing car is not a good way make points. F1 doesn’t allow it. Apparently neither does the LeMans series. So you really can’t point to those cars and say “see they don’t have AWD, therefore AWD is not as good as RWD.” Making points about the extra weight added or the small subset of driving situations that actually benefit from AWD makes a more compelling argument.

  11. A few things:

    1) Who pays for cleaning up the mess in my MINI when I lost my breakfast over Todd’s thumb story? Actually, I went through the same thing a few years back. I was rushing with an Xacto blade and ran it through the tip of my thumb. The site of the blood nearly made me faint.

    2) I’ll back up Wingnut on the safety of the Euro Parcel Shelf. My first MINI had one and no damage to my legs or knees.

    3) Here’s another tire size calculator:
    http://www.net-comber.com/tirecalc.html

    4) Where the heck is Woofcast 180??

  12. In 1989, Nissan came out with an AWD Skyline GT-R that had been purpose built for racing in the “touring car” series. In the Australian series, in 91 and 92, the car was untouchable. CAMS (the regulating body in Aus) added over 100kg (almost 220 pounds) of penalty weight and the car was still winning races walking away. After 2 years of winning just about every race it finished (and 1 major race without finishing), Godzilla (as the car was known) was banned by CAMS. They changed the series rules so that all cars had to run V8s with RWD.
    I guess the point of all this is that if the car is correctly put together, AWD can indeed be a major competitive advantage in a racing environment.

  13. I agree on all the points against a AWD Mini.
    If I want to get AWD and stay with the BMW crowd I’ll get a ix/xi/whatever.
    And i also agree with others: where is the Monday show ?

  14. As you may or may not know, I live in the Canadian praries. We get snow (should be in about 4 weeks). We get a bunch of thaw-freeze cycles with snow on top. We go skiing. We drive through the Rocky Mountains in the dead of winter to get to the left coast. It gets freekin’ cold here.

    Now that we have context…four wheel drive??? I don’t see the point. Good winter tyres and understanding that the laws of physics always apply and you’re good to go.

    My theory on four wheel drive is the same as my theory on SUVs and trucks – people are compensating for their lack of driving ability with steel.

    As for the manufacturers, some are pandering to the paranoias of soccer moms and others know that to homologate a car for the WRC you have to have four wheel drive as an option and sell a bunch.

    My solution, just like the automatic transmission debate or how to make your car go faster – get education. Driving a manual will save you money on a new car, save money by having better fuel mileage, and save money by having less maintenance on the transmission. Learning to drive will allow you to go faster or safer in the car that you already own. Learning to drive, sideways, in the snow will teach you what to do if it does snow, rain, get dusty, on gravel, or when you blow a tyre.

    A final thought, when driving down highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary in the middle of the winter, there were cars and trucks in the ditch all over the place. The four wheel drives were just in the ditch further because they thought they would handle or brake better. Nope, they accelerate better, and handle and brake worse since they are heavier (and tend to be raised up).

    Andrei (where it’s supposed to go to 28C or 82F today)

  15. Sorry to chime in so late on this but I’ve now got some first hand experience to add.

    I did a Trackdaze HPDE at Virginia International Raceway this past week (my first ever!) and I won the drawing to drive the new ’08 VW R32. After doing about 6 30 minute sessions in my R56 I managed to get a good lay of the land on how the Mini handles and it’s COMPLETELY different than the AWD on the VW. It really felt like I was in a bubble driving that thing. Felt like I was pretty detached from the whole driving evolution. Part of that might have been I was letting the DSG do all the shifting, but it felt like it was too easy to get the thing to go around a corner, but in a wallowing beast sort of way (that might not make any sense. 😀 ) And the car seemed much slower than the R56, got about 5 mph less on the back straight (110 vice 115 in the Mini), in spite of its massive HP advantage (and huge weight disadvantage).

    All in all, it totally felt like the AWD could be a crutch to lean on for any Joe Schmuckatelli to go to the track to have a decent lap.

    But then again…is that really a bad thing?

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