The Mini Cooper S is one of the best handling cars around. The steering is very quick and accurate. The car is low to the ground, lightweight and there is little overhang weight in front of the car and the rear of the car.
To steer the Mini Cooper S into a corner is to experience automotive nirvana.
But it can be improved. Easily! So I hear, so let’s put it to the test. The two upgrades involved today are the H-Sport lowering springs and the R-Speed rear sway bar.
The H-Sport lowering springs lower the front and rear of the car by 1 inch. This is important since the front of the car is already low and lowering it much more will compromise suspension travel too much.
Again, my friend Sean from Sunnyoaks Muffler was up to the task. He installed the springs and it came out perfect. The stance of the car is now perfect with the dreaded wheel-well gap reduced. The handling of the car is improved as the car just rails through corners with authority.
The other upgrade today is the rear sway bar. This is considered by many enthusiasts as the single greatest suspension upgrade for the Mini Cooper. The Mini is a front-wheeled drive car. And like many cars, it is tuned by the factory to have understeer at the handling limits. Understeer means the car wants to go straight in a corner when the approach speed is too fast. The reason for the programmed understeer is it’s safer. The driver will react by letting off the gas and braking and the car will then be able to turn properly. Enthusiasts don’t like understeer. We prefer ultra-accurate steering and at the limit, maybe a hint of oversteer. This will make the car a turning demon and corner speeds will be a lot faster. It also makes the car easier to control in a turn with the throttle. The downside is the rear of the car can swing out at the limit if the throttle is lifted abruptly and brakes applied.
So the sway bar upgrade is to make the sway bar bigger and dial out the understeer. So here’s a photo of the sway bars for comparison. Top is Mini Cooper, middle is Mini Cooper S and bottom is the R-Speed Sway bar. In addition to being thicker, the R-speed has adjustable stiffness points and has urethane bushings to reduce play.
The operation is tricky as the old bar has to be threaded out of the suspension without removing the shocks and brakes
The operation is a success. The car has almost no body roll now, it turns like it’s on rails and the ride comfort is as good as before. Oh, and I painted the brake calipers red too while I was at it.