Highland Roads, Sublime Beaches, With The Best of Company, and Only with MINI

26 Oct 2016

A 6-car convoy of fellow journos had the opportunity to test these excellent machines in a place where they would be in their own element

The sum of all of us

Group picture before the fun began

Three days of driving in beautiful Bali brought out the best in the three cars we were able to test on the trip. Oneshift was invited by MINI to truly experience the Cooper Convertible, Cooper S Convertible and Clubman Cooper S in one of the most beautiful islands south of us.

A 6-car convoy of fellow journos had the opportunity to test these excellent machines in a place where they would be in their own element.

Ismail from BMW Group Indonesia, welcoming us to warm and sunny Bali

Once we touched down at the Ngurah Rai International Airport, we were whisked away to Made’s Warung in Benoa, where we were briefed about what lay ahead for the next few days, and were handed our cars for an hour-plus drive to our next stop.

We were to proceed inland to the Secret Garden in Baturiti, 48km away for some coffee and tea.

Turbocharged, the MINIs could just climb all day!

Our first car, the MINI Clubman Cooper S, is part go-kart, part estate car and plenty fun to drive. Getting in-tune with how the car really drives was not at all difficult. Very soon we discovered that the longer wheelbase of the Clubman, compared to the Convertible, provided a little more comfort, without much compromise to the go-kart-like handling which all MINIs are known for. Definitely, still a MINI, but space for the family!

The new Clubman sports a 100mm longer wheelbase over the previous car, and overall the car is 270mm longer. The additional 100mm adds to more in-car practicality. Inside, we had five full seats versus what most cars would have, two in the front and a bench at the rear. Luggage space of 360 litres would not rival other more conventional estate cars, but the focus on the Clubman was how it drove, and it did really have well-proportioned styling to match.

Coasting through town traffic saw the car’s compact dimensions come in handy as our convoy weaved through the mid-day Bali snarl. Apart from minor turbo lag the car was smooth, while shifting from a newly developed 8-speed automatic. Electrically adjustable front seats were supportive, and like the Convertible, offered adjustable thigh support cushions.

Secret Garden

Coffee, cake and a view of pristine preserved padi fields

We were all treated to a coffee tasting session, at the Secret Garden, and a lush view of the cultivated slopes behind the establishment. And just for a while, we could savour the fresh air before setting off again.

Stage two of our journey brought us 74km up North, through winding mountainous roads, as we made our way to the Krisna Beach Street. The Clubman S showed no sign of frontward plough when cutting around some hairpins, thanks to MINI staying consistent with the short overhangs. Directional changes were easily lapped up by the car. Equipped with a heads up display providing the speed readings, as-well as information about where we are supposed to be headed, we soon realised that this was not just a gimmicky extra that MINI had included, but something essential as you become more focused on the road.

Flappy pedal gearshift levers behind the steering wheel came in handy, when we dropped the car into sport mode. More go-kart, less car… we got rewarded with a stiffer ride, quicker throttle response and those addictive thumping noises from the exhaust when lifting off the throttle before cutting round a bend. Steering for the Clubman is precise, and feedback is always present.

The pristine mountainous scenery was at times punctuated by small towns, padi fields and the occasional monkey. The panoramic sunroof was really the next best thing to open top motoring, as we slid it back for some fresh air and sunshine. Everyone comes to Bali for sunshine… Even for us mad-busy auto journos.

Krisna Beach Street

Krisna Beach Street revealed cool calm waters, with the silhouettes of anglers casting their lines further out, and local children frolicking in the water at low tide. Behind us, our eatery, flanked by more padi fields beckoned us to take a few moments off the road, to soak in what the Northern shore of near-dusk Bali had to offer.

A few good rounds of photos later, we did a car swop and began our last leg of day one in the Cooper Convertible S. While the Clubman was more of a family-fun-activity type of car, the Convertible was definitely a personal experience. While most things were the same, the drop top and shorter wheelbase presented a more cheeky and playful side of MINI.

Oneshift's resident auto journo with fellow journo, Rene

While reluctant to leave our beautiful rest stop, I was eager to hop back into a familiar friend. I had tested this car a while ago, and I can still say that it is a superb front drive platform, and she didn’t fail to entertain me.

The 192bhp 2.0 engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Like the Clubman, there are 3 drive modes to choose from. While we were tempted to give the car the beans in Sport mode, communications over the radio from the MINI guys told us to give the ECO mode a try. With the top down, we were rewarded with a smooth drive on mostly straight roads, gears changed up quicker, not only to reduce consumption, but also to offer less jerks when lifting off the throttle.

Naya Gawana Resort

Dampening from the suspension was softer than when in Sport mode, allowing us to cruise comfortably uneventfully into the night. With 63km to cover, the MINI convoy made its way to the Naya Gawana Resort in Menjangan, located on the Western tip of the island. We reached our destination by nightfall. Tired, but all smiles.

Resident Oneshift journo doing his social media thing at the dinner table

While most of Bali is heavily populated, we were pleasantly surprised that this was such a rustic gem sitting away from all the hustle and bustle the island has come to be known for. After a good dinner, we called it a night at our villas.

Day 2

At 7:30am, I managed to capture the first rays of sunlight breaking through the tops of the distant highlands, revealing the true beauty of our resort, and the lands surrounding it. Up on the jetty, one could see the many fish swimming just below and even clusters of sea urchins in the shallow, clear waters. While we had time to take in the view, we knew that there was more Bali awaiting us.

Back on the road, and in the Cooper S Convertible, we were now headed to La Costa Beach Lounge. Travelling on long stretches of road with just a few twists and turns. We passed through some small towns, but many-a-time, the long straights revealed the breath-taking view of the distant mountains in-front of us.

With the top down, the Cooper S Convertablit lets the morning sun into the cabin, the leather trim really looked good! Why would someone justify a car like this in Singapore? While we may not have the picturesque views that Bali can offer, and the freshest of air, there are still moments to savour during the day, and at times in the evenings.

With 6 gear ratios, 2 less than the Clubman, the gearing is a little more spread out, allowing for the Convertible to utilise the turbocharged 2.0’s torque band a little more through this 51km we were to travel. As the day did get hotter, the convoy slowed down to 30km/h to allow those with soft tops to close off their automated roofs. My partner in crime had already felt the burn from the sun a while ago.

A blur of trees, distant highlands and more rice padis later, we arrived at our stop. La Costa Beach Lounge, Singaraja, is situated along the North coastline of Bali, just a few Km away from Krisna Beach Street the day before.

Warm clear skies greeted us, the dark coloured sand here had a little bit of a sparkle, and the waves lapped up the shore gently. While recuperating from the long drive, the group of us recapped the morning spent, and savoured the finger foods and iced tea served, before embarking on the next leg of our journey.

A long stretch of 79km to cover before lunch, and a photoshoot… The long journey meant that the little MINI was in its element. Swopping bends, tight hairpins, uphill climbs where the turbocharged 2.0 showed no difficulty climbing, letting off a satisfying burble as you switched cogs, and downhill stretches where releasing the throttle and dropping a gear or two prior to a bend got the exhaust to thump and pop, adding to the fun factor of the Cooper S Convertible. Most of the time, we found that the engine had so much torque on tap, we hardly found the need to floor it after exiting a bend, or climbing up a steep incline. And when we did, the amount of push we got back into the seat indeed left a glint in our eyes.

Turn-by-turn, the mountain roads just got better and better

The suspension is well designed, being able to keep the front wheels well planted, and the trailing rear end as natural as possible, even with the ever-changing geometry. The electromagnetic dampers ensured that the shocks remained firm, greatly reducing body roll. The front bucket seats with the thigh support worked their magic keeping driver and passenger in place.

Having the chance to test the Copper S Convertible in Singapore only can reveal that much. Over here, we truly had a taste of how much development went into these little cars. Knowing that we were the last of several groups of journos who made the trip for the MINI Adventure, the well-travelled cars displayed no sign of wear, apart from some tyre scrub.

Manisan Restaurant

Finally, after passing more monkeys, towns and green motion blurs, the convoy arrived at our lunch venue, Manisan Restaurant, at Alaya, Ubud, where we were treated to some good food, and journo bonding. All this surrounded by a padi field, which was again surrounded by a hotel. I wonder if the rice they grow was the same stuff on our plates.

Not the nicest of pictures, but I was hungry!

A final 13km journey awaited us, before we could check in at our place to stay for the night, we knew we had to make haste, as we had an important appointment with a gorgeous sunset.

Rest stop in-between

While the drive there was not very eventful, we did pass by some touristy spots, where we were greeted by MINI-loving tourists either giving our convoy the thumbs up, or whipping their mobile phones out to grab a picture. School children too waved as we passed. The 136bhp Cooper Convertible which we were in this time, was gave a laid-back and comfortable drive, with the top up, we savoured the last bit of the ride.

Katamama Hotel & Potato Head Beach Club

At around six in the evening, we arrived at the very new Katamama Hotel at Seminyak. The room featured an excellent bar counter with a complimentary DIY first cocktail. Yes, there was the entire cocktail making kit at our disposal, a recipe book and a sweet collection of Western and local alcohols to add to the mix, and fresh fruit... I made myself a cup of tea…

The neighbouring Potato Head Beach Club faces the sea in a South-south-west direction, providing us with a beautiful view of the setting sun. Facing the beach, we could see the silhouettes of locals, tourist and family pets alike, either running in the sand or bounding playfully toward the water. With this and a good dinner, we ended a day.

Day 3

Reflecting and Going Home

Making our way to the airport in the morning, i began to reflect. Bali was for me a place where, if you looked around, there is always something for the real you at heart. While I did personally enjoy the more tranquil bits of the island, I have come to appreciate and embrace how alive the place is.

The MINI brand was once something that was humble, built at a price, and was simple. The new MINI is grown up; authentic and yet so intimate… Just like how the island of Bali is.

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Engine Capacity 1998cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 192bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 280Nm @ 1250rpm
Power to Weight 140.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 7.1s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 228 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 17.2 km/L
Drag Coefficient 0.340

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric


Body Type Cabriolet
(L x W x H)
(3850 x 1727 x 1415) mm
Wheelbase 2495 mm
Turning Circle 11 metres
Kerb Weight 1370 kg
Boot Capacity 160 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 215 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 44 L



Engine Capacity 1499cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 136bhp @ 4400rpm
Torque 220Nm @ 1250rpm
Power to Weight 104.2 bhp per ton


Acceleration 8.7s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 206 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.9 km/L
Drag Coefficient 0.340

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric


Body Type Cabriolet
(L x W x H)
(3821 x 1727 x 1415) mm
Turning Circle 11 metres
Kerb Weight 1305 kg
Boot Capacity 160 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 215 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 40 L



Engine Capacity 1999cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 11:1
Bore x Stroke (82 x 94.6)mm
Power 192bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 280Nm @ 1250rpm
Power to Weight 131.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 7.1s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 228 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(4253 x 1800 x 1441) mm
Wheelbase 2670 mm
Turning Circle 11.31 metres
Kerb Weight 1465 kg
Boot Capacity 360 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 1250 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 48 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs