Happy Green British Racing Thing
So MINI celebrates sixty this year! One of the most entertaining front-drive cars to come into existence, receives a facelift and this time round, is also decked out in 60th Anniversary livery.
We take out the refreshed family-friendly 5-door version for a spin, and some exhaust popping fun. I must say, that there is so much character in the Cooper S, it is quite hard to part with the car.
Extra doors on the MINI, together with an extended wheelbase does make the 5-door version slightly odd in appearance, a small compromise if you still want iconic styling and go-kart like handling.
Redesigned front headlamps, which now feature ring-shaped LED DRLs, double as turn signal lamps. Rear tail lights have also received a reworking, and now carries on them a cool Union Jack design… and they function beautifully!
This 60 Years Edition Cooper S is decked out with stylish extras, ranging from a ‘60 Years’ insignia on the front fenders, specially designed bonnet stripes and Dark Spectre Grey 17” rims with burnished spokes.
There are minimal changes to the facelifted MINI’s interior. A redesigned gearshift lever, indicative of its new seven-speed transmission, and the moving of the drive mode toggle to the dash panel are the most obvious changes. MINI has retained its elliptical themed interior, and like the pre-facelift, you do get premium quality and fit.
Its centralised 6.5” LCD touchscreen, surrounded by a fancy lit bezel, is now equipped with MINI’s new Mobile Assistant, adding another dimension to your ownership experience. The system links your phone to the MINI via an app, syncing your calendar with the car, and providing you with real time traffic information, and very cleverly informs you of when you should leave for your next appointment. In doing so, the car effectively performs as a larger, integral conduit to your day-to-day activities.
The 60 Years Edition trim, which includes door entry strips, ‘MINI Yours’ three-spoke steering wheel with ‘60 Years’ badging and ‘MINI Yours’ leather seats, which also includes themed badging stitched into the leather, complete with green piping; makes ownership of the compact hatch a little more special.
Front manually-adjustable seats come with side cushions to hold you in-place when flicking the car around. With an extended wheelbase and rear doors, this is more practical a car, compared to the 3-door model. Leg space at the rear may not win any prizes, but it is properly sufficient for another two passengers.
As MINI as it has to be, the 5-door hatch is still practical as your everyday drive. Boot space at 278 litres, can be further expanded with its 50:50 rear seats folded flat, to offer you 941 litres. The boot board can also be dropped to accommodate larger items if needed. (The 3-door model offers a little less - 211 litres, and with seats down 731 litres).
A BMW-derived 2.0 turbocharged inline-four, mounted transverse, and mated to a new 7-speed DKG transmission, drives the front wheels. Power is rated at 192hp, while the delivery of its 280Nm of torque, from 1,350 to 4,600rpm, ensures lively acceleration to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds.
Ride quality is on the firmer side, since the Cooper S model is built for a sportier drive. I would have prefered if the car still came here with its adaptive suspension, which would allow you to dial down on the firmness if you happen to want a more relaxed drive.
That mentioned, The MINI hatchback does handle like a dream, with point-and-shoot accuracy. The car delivers heaps of grip where you need it, and predictable give around the bends. The longer wheelbase does however take away some of that go-kart magic that MINIs have come to be known for, but the difference is quite negligible to most.
In Sport mode, the Cooper S not only changes gears up later, the exhaust also plays up on pops and cracks whenever you drop a gear or when you lift off the throttle. It is not overly noisy, and you can actually see yourself driving in Sport mode the entire day, if you can stomach a little more on your fuel cost. And speaking about this, the Cooper S returns a decent 17.9km/l in combined cycle… but of-course that would mean that you are not going around, gassing it in the above-mentioned mode.
A MINI to me, is always a representation of something fun to drive and to own. It also is a canvas if you may, to express yourself, with its comprehensive list of decorative extras, or even with extras of your own.