FIRST DRIVE

It’s the first to take a set of golf clubs and goes like the clap­pers

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

The Mini Coupe is no small coup, mar­ry­ing the charm of the iconic brick with boot space for your golf clubs

THE Mini Coupe is two-faced. To look at and drive, it is the most ag­ile Mini yet and the sporti­ness is only re­in­forced by the lack of a rear seat.

Yet it is also the best cargo car­rier in the fam­ily with gen­er­ous in­te­rior space and a 280-litre boot. That makes this the first Mini to take a set of golf clubs— and if you con­sider the car as a baby grand tourer rather than a hot hatch, it suits it to a tee.

BMWGroup Aus­tralia spokesman Piers Scott says the boot space should be a ma­jor sell­ing point for the car.

‘‘ The per­for­mance side of the car is one as­pect, but a lot of Mini buy­ers buy into the whole look and life­style,’’ he says.

‘‘ Some peo­ple who just like the brand haven’t come across be­cause they needed more boot space. Now they’ve got it.’’

VALUE

Pric­ing is ex­pected to start at about $50,000 for the base Cooper S when the Coupe goes on sale here in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber and the range­top­ping John Cooper Works ver­sion is ex­pected to be $60k-plus.

The SD (sports diesel) will slot be­tween the two. ‘‘

When Cars­guide drove pre- pro­duc­tion pro­to­types, fi­nal Aus­tralian spec­i­fi­ca­tions had yet to be set. They will need to be high, given the Coupe range will take on the Audi TT, Volk­swa­gen Scirocco and Peu­geot RCZ.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Per­for­mance was a pri­or­ity for the Mini Coupe. The JCW has been fit­ted with a but­ton­op­er­ated trac­tion-con­trol sys­tem and an elec­tronic diff lock that ad­justs the amount of wheel­spin per­mit­ted be­fore the soft­ware in­ter­venes. It’s great for track days or driv­ing on sand (that’d be off the track).

The Coupe is 30mm lower than a Mini hatch and 25kg of stiff­en­ing has been added to the rear to im­prove han­dling. That re­in­force­ment will also help when the roof is lopped to make the Mini Road­ster. An ac­tive rear spoiler de­ploys at 80km/h and adds 40kg of down­force at the car’s top speed of 240km/h.

DE­SIGN

Mini de­sign chief An­ders Warm­ing is proud of the

back­wards base­ball cap’’ roofline that marks the Mini Coupe from any an­gle. ‘‘ It shows the char­ac­ter of this car,’’ he says. ‘‘ This is about attitude, a lit­tle bit ma­cho and about be­ing street smart. And it goes like stink.’’

It is the first ‘‘ three-box’’ Mini (dis­tinct en­gine, pas­sen­ger and boot ar­eas) and Warm­ing says it rep­re­sents what Mini stands for: ‘‘ Good looks with­out be­ing con­ven­tional, a bias on han­dling and a fun-lov­ing attitude. Peo­ple who buy these cars are ex­tro­verted and they want to en­joy them­selves and be seen to be en­joy­ing them­selves.’’

SAFETY

The Mini fam­ily hasn’t had a prob­lem with scor­ing five-star ANCAP rat­ings and the ex­tra

The­Coupe is quick, sticks to the road

and is the best-look­ing Mini yet

re­in­forc­ing in the Coupe can only help. The car sits so flat you have to try re­ally hard to get it out of shape. If this oc­curs, ABS with elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol in­ter­vene to get things back on track.

If they can’t, a pedes­tri­an­friendly bon­net will help those out­side while the oc­cu­pants are cush­ioned by airbags.

DRIV­ING

The top-spec John Cooper Works ver­sion is the Coupe of choice and it’s not just down to its 155kW/260Nm 1.6-litre turbo en­gine. The ride height is 20mm lower and it picks up firmer sus­pen­sion set­tings and big­ger brakes. The two-seater corners flat and fe­ro­ciously fast — the only thing de­lay­ing it out of the turns is the trac­tion con­trol in­ter­ven­ing.

To dis­en­gage the trac­tion con­trol, push the but­ton to the right of the six-speed man­ual gear­box and the JCW en­gine is let off its elec­tronic leash, howl­ing down the straights and barely dip­ping its nose un­der

Get ac­tive: Per­for­ma­cne is a pri­or­ity in the­newMini Coupe

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