My wife drives a first-generation R50 Mini base model with the dreaded CVT. This is a transmission widely reported (read: complained about on message boards) to not last well beyond 75,000 city miles. Hers is just now clearing 80,000 and it shows no signs of early struggles, even under the hellish torment of stop-and-go traffic in Houston temperatures.
Perhaps coincidentally, my wife has never put premium fuel in this car, despite it being a requirement. Premium fuel would supposedly generate 114 horsepower; without premium fuel, I would guess 7-9% lower, at, say, 105 horsepower. It is a slow car no matter what, but at least it makes up for it in urban maneuverability.
The Chevrolet Volt began life as a marketing concept: “what if,” GM’s finest minds asked themselves, “we could sell a car that could go 40 miles without burning any gasoline?” That goal was achievable (although how easily and regularly remains to be seen), but it came at a cost: if you check out GM’s just-released standard equipment sheet (click on “standard equipment”), you’ll find that the Volt’s gasoline range extender requires premium fuel. What’s strange about this is that the Volt’s 1.4 liter range extender is hardly an overstressed buzz-bomb, making only 80 hp at the crank and 74 hp at the generator. Why then does it need premium? Considering that the Volt would have struggled to pay off its premium over the Toyota Prius anyway, the decision to require premium fuel makes no sense at all.