Bigger and better than ever?
Mini’s have always had a large following of ‘mini cheerleaders’ that keep these cars a firm competitor in the current hatch market. No longer is the Mini a one trick pony. They now come in all shapes and sizes; from the humble Mini one to the all-wheel SUV Countryman. Due to the ever growing model line-up, this means that Mini lovers are able to continue their passion by having their mini grow with them and cater to all of their motoring needs.
The car that I am reviewing is a Mini Cooper S ‘Sport’ provided to me by Cooper Mini in Ipswich. Now take a quick visit to the Mini website and it can soon become overwhelming with the enormous amounts of variants and additional extra’s when building yourself a Mini. My honest opinion is to pop into your closest store and chat with someone there. It is likely that they can look into your needs and put together the best packs to get you the exact spec you’re looking for the most affordable option.
I know, shock car dealers actually want to get you the best possible deal… it’s true!
I will try to explain this as simply as possible, ‘the cooper’ sits in the middle of the trim range, just after the ‘One’. the ‘S’ part refers to the 2-litre petrol engine. Additional to this there are then 2 different trim levels above and beyond the ‘cooper classic’ these are ‘sport’ and ‘exclusive’ these are primarily cosmetic and focus on what is important to the buyer. The one that I am reviewing is a ‘Sport.’ This means it has the more aggressive john cooper works aero body kit, Anthracite Headlining, rear spoiler and JCW sport leather steering wheel. The ‘sport’ is a great option to go for if you want the car to look sportier but can’t quite justify the £4,000 extra that that the John cooper works would cost you.
The Mini Cooper S is not short of a bit of competition, for similar money you can get a; Polo GTI, Fiesta ST-3, Peugeot 208 GTI and Toyota Yaris GRMN. So, what would make you choose the Mini over that impressive line up? It’s not the quickest but then it’s certainly not the slowest. The main contributor to your decision is probably going to come down to your personal appreciation of its classic charm and quirky styling. Mini have a very good understanding of ‘if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it’ and that shines through with this little hot hatch.
There are some more little goodies on this car above and beyond standard. It has been lowered a further 30mm by the dealership itself and they have added LED spot lamps on the front of the car; which will set you back around £600 if installed by Mini themselves. It has also undergone some de-chroming. For example, the fuel cap has been swapped from chrome to black to black to match the rest of this car. Thanks to the black on black combination, this car does have quite a mean presence…. even for something that still resembles a toy car.
When BMW took over Mini we started to see the introduction of a lot of customisable options to make the car truly unique to the owner. My favourite of all options would have to be the down lights underneath the wing mirrors that beam the Mini logo onto the floor when the door is opened. These can be changed to include your name, company logo, personalised message. How cool is that?
You won’t find masses of space in the Mini and especially not the 3 door version. The boot isn’t small, there is a substantial amount of room to fit an ample amount of shopping. There is a false floor that extends it slightly, but it falls quite short compared to both the Polo and Fiesta. However, if you’re opting for a car with the name ‘Mini’ is space really number 1 on your priority list? Not likely.
If you opt for the five-door it gives you three rear seat belts rather than just two, although whoever gets the middle seat won’t thank you: it’s narrow and involves straddling a transmission tunnel that’s even taller than normal on account of its integrated cup holder.
Its most recent face-lift did see the introduction of some love-it-or-hate-it upgrades such as the Union Jack LED rear lights and customisable trim inserts created using 3D printing.
Under the bonnet of the Mini Cooper S is a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 189bhp and 207lb ft of torque. Producing a 0-62mph time of 6.8sec in this manual model. This all sounds like a car that will deliver almost hot hatch levels of performance, which it mostly does. Certainly, you could never call a Cooper S slow, particularly in the way it pulls so hard from low revs makes it a lot of fun. The term go kart gets thrown around a lot when referring to the Mini but that is defiantly the best way to describe it.
Now one big thing to not get caught out on is the ‘driving mode options’. Going for something called a ‘Mini Cooper S Sport’ I would just automatically assume that I would get a sport mode button as standard and that did used to be the case. However, since the face lift model you will need to make sure you add that as an option when building the car, it costs around £200 which isn’t an enormous amount but does seem a little bit naughty of Mini to leave it out.
On the road this little pocket rocket performed brilliantly. The ride quality is very well judged and even over rough surfaces maintains composure, whilst never deteriorating to the point of discomfort. I was pleasantly surprised especially considering this car has lowered suspension. If I was going to criticize one thing it is that everything feels a little heavy handed; the steering is heavy, and the gear box is clunky between gears but at the same time it does give you a nice feel of being in control.
In sports mode there is a great roar from the exhaust and it’s a great head-turner as you just don’t expect the roar from such a little car. The sports mode I just mentioned will increase the sound output as well, so for that alone its worth upgrading or vise-versa your neighbours will thank you for the Eco mode. However, thanks to the not very favourable new emissions tests in September 2018; gone are the pops and bangs from the exhaust! Way to go and ruin our fun, thanks EU…
Mini pioneered fixed-price servicing packages and the TLC pack remains a popular and cost-efficient way of running the Mini, with five years or 50,000 miles of servicing. Add high residual values and sensible insurance costs and the Mini can be run for comparatively little money, particularly when you take into account its premium positioning.
The more you drive and perhaps more importantly, the more you start to get your head around the entertainment system, you continue to fall in love with the charm of the Mini. By the end of the day I very reluctantly handed the keys back to the salesman. Highly customisable and competitively quick this little go kart is sure to out a smile on your face!