Eternal Sunshine Of The MINI Kind
There are many good things in life in which you could savour. Happiness can come from the simplest things… the early rays of the sun cresting through the morning clouds. The sense of satisfaction as you run your hands over the smooth texture of Chester Malt Brown Leather… or the tingle in your heart you get from a significant other, or even a former lover. The emotions we experience are but a celebration of life... Intimate and your very own.
The intimacy in experiencing a MINI is one which is difficult to replicate. MINIs are very personal cars, and none more personal than their Convertible.
The MINI range had recently gone through a midlife revamp, with some minor changes made. Its new headlamp redesign features distinctive ring style daytime running lights, which also double as indicator lamps. At the rear, a pair of Union Jack tail lamps hints strongly of its British-ish-ness. With the minor tweaks, MINI went on to simplify their logo, which now features a cleaner set of wings.
The ring-themed interior design harks back to the original British Leyland era cars, where a large centralised bezel, housing its speedometer was not positioned for stylistic purposes, but as a means to keep costs down. In centralising the dial, it was cheaper to build the then Mini for both left and right hand drive markets. The current car still features a centralised bezel, a stylistic centrepiece, this time housing a 6.5” LCD touchscreen.
Some minor design changes include a neater-looking fuel gauge, and an elegantly redesigned gearshift lever, in which some BMW owners might find the button placement familiar.
The rest of the car has been generally untouched, and purposefully built around the driver, for that ideal go-kart-like placement. Manually operated front seats with thigh support cushions in malt brown leather, offers support for a spirited drive, while passengers at the rear make do with a +2 seating arrangement.
The Cooper S Convertible is also equipped with MINI Connected Services, which offers weather, news reports and more importantly, realtime traffic information. The system is voice-activated with Natural Language Understanding, allowing you to better focus the drive. Connectivity through Apple CarPlay also means that you can connect and control your iPhone utilising the car’s controls or the Siri voice controller. The system also supports Spotify, which is paired from the phone.
Driving top down is always a special experience, the popping exhaust note, generated by the 2.0 turbocharged engine comes to you unmuffled. Power which is rated at 192hp, and 280Nm of torque, is put through the front wheels via a new 7-speed quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission; and propels the MINI Cooper S Convertible to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds.
Ride quality is on the sportier side, due to a fixed firm suspension. Previously, this was an adaptive one, which meant that you could dial it down together with the drive mode for a more relaxing driving experience.
Taking the Cooper S Convertible around a series of bends, immediately reveals a car which is sharp yet forgiving. The short wheelbase makes it easy to know where the rear end is going at all times.
MINI’s new Mobile Assistant adds another dimension to the ownership experience. The Assistant links your phone up via an app, allowing you to synchronise your calendar with the car. It also takes into account real time traffic situations, and prompts you through your mobile device, in-order to assist you in reaching your next destination on time.
We snagged ourselves a pair of tickets (by courtesy of MINI) for the Peroni Sunset Cinema, which was held at Tanjong Beach, Sentosa. This meant that we could put the Mobile Assistant to a real-world test.
So after a hectic day in the office, and driving over to pick my other-half up in the midst of evening rush hour traffic, we set on the predetermined path. Information about the event from my calendar is synced with the Mobile Assistant. Real time traffic information fed into the mix, means that we knew where traffic is piling up. The system makes suggested route adjustments on the fly, helping in getting to the location with less stoppages.
Driving over the bridge onto the resort island, revealing its lush greenery, beckoning us to drop the electric roof. The whole process is done in all of 18 seconds, and you can do this while on the move, up to speeds of 30km/h. Where privacy calls for it, the roof can also be set partially open, much like a sunroof.
As we are going to an outdoor event, the included Weather App is a plus, informing that the sky would be in our favour for the rest of the evening.
As we leave the car in the parking lot to enjoy the Sunset Cinema, we also appreciate that the Mobile Assistant also brings about added seamlessness and convenience to the ownership experience. Remote Services allow you to lock your doors using your mobile device, if you have forgotten to do so; or to locate where you have left your MINI by flashing the headlights, and even pinpoints where the car is on the map.
Be it for work or for play, the integrated experience created by the Mobile Assistant ensures greater efficiency, allowing you to enjoy your activities a little more, enhancing your ownership experience.
Luxurious, handles like a go-kart and a canvas for personalisation, MINIs add a little more fun to motoring. The addition of the Mobile Assistant adds convenience to the experience.
Pity they took away the adaptive suspension on the Cooper S model.