A pow­er­ful lit­tle sur­prise

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE - PETER BARN­WELL

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.

EN­GINE

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.

DY­NAM­ICS

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.

KIT

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

VER­DICT

Yep, wouldn’t hes­i­tate to buy one – two doors could be an is­sue but com­pact di­men­sions are a ben­e­fit in town.

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