When we bring a long-term test car like our 2012 MINI JCW Coupe into our garage, our goal is to live with it the same way its owners might. We use trucks to tow, all-wheel-drive cars for bad weather and hybrids for city traffic. For us, it's all about testing real-life situations.

So, when it comes to owning a MINI, we asked several drivers what they love most about their cars. Sure, most of the people we chatted with praised their cars for the easy parking in tight city spaces, but we also found that MINI has a pretty active enthusiast community. We were pleasantly surprised to find so many folks taking their cars to the mountains for joy rides and occasionally finding an opportunity to compete in autocross events, and we've done much of the same.

The 20,000+ miles on our MINI Coupe have been hard-driven ones, but (knock on wood) we haven't seen any check engine lights, electrical issues or brake fade. This little go-kart of a Mini has held its own in some relatively challenging driving situations, and we've been impressed by how its held up in such tough conditions. Plus, the maintenance on MINI vehicles is covered during the warranty, so our oil changes and tire rotations have come at no cost.

That said, we haven't always had the chance to rotate the tires, and that's because we've had to replace them instead. MINI equips its cars with run-flat tires because there just isn't room for a spare. In the event that you run over a nail, that means you can continue to drive on the flat tire for up to 50 miles at up to 55 mph, giving you the chance to get to a tire shop or dealership. The downside here is that it's not recommended that you patch or repair the tire, but that you completely replace it. The tires are $300 apiece. And we've now put six tires on the car in just over a year, costing more than $1,800.

We love the free maintenance, but that barely makes a dent in our yearly tire bill. There's no doubt that the entire team here enjoys driving the 2012 MINI JCW Coupe, and high-performance tires are part of that. However, we're reminded that maintenance for this little car is closer to a BMW than it is a Honda.

author photo

Davis Adams is a writer and content producer for the AutoTrader.com editorial team. Previously, he helped craft digital media for several automotive industry brands, including Consumer Reports, Toyota and Porsche. Davis feels at home on the track, and he owns a 2006 Lotus Elise that has seen its fair share of autocross courses.

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