A powerful little surprise
GOTTA say we weren’t all that interested in the new Mini Cooper once we found out it had a three-pot, 1.5-litre petrol engine.
We jumped too soon. Mini offered us a drive of the base Cooper hatch starting at $26,650 with optional six-speed auto and we grudgingly went to get it.
Surprise, surprise. Apart from a warbling exhaust note at low speeds, you wouldn’t know this is a triple – and it goes great.
Those three big pistons are boosted by a small turbocharger, direct fuel injection and double Vanos variable valve lift courtesy of BMW.
It achieves some 100kW and up to 230Nm output while sipping fuel at a possible 4.7 litres/100km.
Solid grunt is available from as low as 1250rpm and it reveals itself in the Cooper as strong acceleration and throttle response – better than the previous four-cylinder base model Mini by a longshot.
DAY TO DAY
We would have absolutely no qualms living with the Cooper on a day-to-day basis because of this and the sixspeed conventional auto makes matter better.
It fires through gear changes quickly and offers a paddle shift sequential change system.
There are also a number of drive modes you can choose that affect various dynamic functions.
They have calibrated the car’s dynamics for a sporty kartlike feel – like the previous two generations – and it is a hoot to drive. More aluminium is evident in suspension and more high-strength steel is used in the chassis/body.
The base model Cooper is well-endowed, feature-wise, with comprehensive infotainment, Bluetooth, decent sound system, cruise control with brake function, park distance control and alloy wheels.
Some driver assist features are provided – dynamic brake lights stability control, crash sensor and a diff lock to moderate any tendency to torque steer under full throttle application.
We really liked driving this car for a whole range of reasons.
It has plenty of performance, handles brilliantly and uses minimal fuel. The ride is firm/sporty but doesn’t wear you down over a long drive.
The boot is small and useful only for some of the weekly grocery shopping. Seats are provided for four in what is actually quite a roomy passenger compartment.
Yep, wouldn’t hesitate to buy one – two doors could be an issue but compact dimensions are a benefit in town.