MINI Cooper S Clubman vs Ford Focus ST, Mercedes-Benz Dilemma and Easter Jeep Q & A [Ask Nathan]

lexus isf vs bmw m235i

In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • MINI Cooper S Clubman vs Ford Focus ST?
  • Replace my Mercedes-Benz C280?
  • Easter Jeep Safari questions answered!
2013 Ford Focus ST 0-60 MPH Drive & Review
2013 Ford Focus ST 0-60 MPH Drive & Review

Today’s first question comes from a fan who wants the best driving, four-door hatchback available in the USA.

‘Sup Nathan?!

Simple question from Phoenix, Arizona. What would you choose, the Ford Focus ST or the Mini Cooper S 4 Door? I want it fast, front wheel drive and manual. What do you think?


2016 MINI Cooper S Clubman

A: Howdy Matt!

I think the Ford Focus ST is a huge bargain by comparison. You can load one up and still have it for less than 30K. The equivalent MINI will run $32-$38,000. The Ford Focus ST is a monster on the track and it’s very easy to drive hard – very hard. It would be my choice between the two for track days.

With that being said, the MINI Cooper S Clubman gives you a fantastic driving experience, decent interior space and gobs of personality. There are a ton of equipment options and it feels like a small BMW. Its overall performance capabilities are impressive and, as a daily driver, it would be my choice.

If you are a MINI fan, the Ford will never do. On the other hand, if you want raw performance, it’s hard to beat the Ford Focus ST.

Matt, have you considered the Volkswagen GTI? It’sĀ  TFLcar’s favorite hot-hatch – for a majority of good reasons.

Good luck!


Now, I know you mentioned FWD only, but the MINI Cooper S Clubman has an all-wheel drive (AWD) version available. Then again, the Ford Focus RS hits our shores soon and it’s AWD too.

mercedes-benz c280 1994

This next question is from a fan who’s debating getting rid of his 1995 Mercedes-Benz C280.

Q: Hi Nathan,

Hope you, Roman and the whole team are doing great. I am one of your many dedicated fans who follow your posts and videos religiously.

I have a dilemma regarding my 1995 c280 and seeking your thoughts.

It has 60K on it and right now I am spending $2600 for a coolant leak from the gasket and worn out wiring harness. I trust the mechanic and my gut feeling says it’s a good investment.

My question is : after this repair, do you think it is advisable to keep the car for long .. or try to sale it at a good price(IF I get it)?

Please let me know. Getting a reply from you would make my day šŸ™‚

You guys rock by the way and let me know if I can help anyway with graphics or anything.


A: Hi Arin!

There are two ways to look at your vehicle.

1. It’s a low mileage Mercedes-Benz that you’re very familiar with; as such, investing in it may make a lot of sense. It’s less costly than a new car payment – for now. The Mercedes-Benz C280 was a great little car and I know quite a few people who swore by them.

2. On the other hand, your vehicle is over 20-years old and it’s worth between $5,000 and $7,000. Although, with such low mileage, you may get a bit more for it. Some didn’t like the little C280 and (when they were brought to service) people swore at them.

I get the desire to hold on to an older, trustworthy vehicle. Most of my rides are old and (fairly) dependable. I have a sense of comfort when I drive these vehicles as they are predictable and easy to fix. Service costs can be more affordable as the vehicle ages and part’s cost (usually) drop a bit over time.

Consider looking at a few Mercedes-Benz bulletin boards, appraising your C280 and seeing if there is something out there you would be willing to buy as a replacement.

Best of luck!



The last series of questions come from viewers and readers regarding the concept vehicles we drove at the 2016 Easter Jeep Safari.

Q: There were several questions we received regarding the concept vehicles we tested at the 2016 Easter Jeep Safari. The ones that were repeated most often are listed in the answers section below.

  1. Why are you not bashing these vehicles off road?
  2. Will Jeep ever build these vehicles?
  3. Does the top come off of the Jeep Comanche Concept?
  4. You’re giving us very limited info; what about towing, GVWR, MPG and so on?
  5. What happens to these concepts after Easter Jeep Safari?

Why are you not bashing these vehicles off road?

Jeep has invested serious money and man-hours with each concept vehicle. They choose the location and trails we’re permitted to drive on. We are very lucky just to get a chance to get behind the wheel. As these vehicles are built to be ideas in motion, Jeep wants them to last. We drive them on light off-road trails to get nice photo opportunities, but little else. It’s just enough for us to get a basic feel of the vehicle.

Will Jeep ever build these vehicles?

Not really. Components, design ideas and themes are what these Jeep concepts are all about. The concepts represent a glimpse into the designers heads. They want to hear feedback from you about these creations. It also gives fabricators and after-market suppliers a few production ideas.

Does the top come off of the Jeep Comanche Concept?

It is fabric, but it’s not a convertible. From what I understand, it was an elegantly simple solution to covering the top as the structure required thick tubes to connect the upper A-pillars to the rest of the vehicle. The top looks to be permanent.

You’re giving us very limited info; what about towing, GVWR, MPG and so on?

We are given very little information about the vehicles and have limited time to comment on their driving feel. Being that they are one-off designs and have not been independently rated/evaluated by the EPA, Ike Gauntlet, SAE, DOT, IIHS, NADA or any governing entity, we have very little information going in. With that being said, we do try to communicate driving feel and a few opinions regarding the design.

What happens to these concepts after Easter Jeep Safari?

Most of these vehicles will make the show circuit rounds which includes SEMA and other shows. Many return as display vehicles while others are driven by FCA as support vehicles. No, they aren’t for sale and, contrary to popular belief, they are not crushed.


Check out this terrific Jeep Trailcat Concept!

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at:

nathan adlen Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.