MINI STILL A MAJOR PLAYER
THE COOPER S IS A MINI LIKE NO OTHER
WELL, for a 55-year-old, the Mini certainly has aged well.
Instead of age wrinkles and lame performance, the latest generation is much better looking, more powerful, refined, economical and, most important of all, it has retained the kart-like handling that endeared itself to a zillion enthusiasts all over the world.
There’s a fair crop of newies in the current line-up, including three-cylinder versions, with several more models still to come.
But today we’re looking at the hottie du jour, the Cooper S.
It has a new 2.0litre four-cylinder twinscroll turbo BMW motor that generates 141kW and 300Nm, which, through the optional ($2600) six-speed auto, can take it to 100km/h in a blistering 6.6 seconds. Ah, mama mia, one can’t legally go any faster in the metro region, but getting to the limit in that time at least lifts the veil of dullness to reveal a world of joy.
The slick automatic comes complete with smile-inducing sound effects as it runs through the cogs on its way to the “tonne”.
The car looks lovely, and ours had a few extras, among them bonnet stripes, colour-coded mirror caps, a reversing camera, head-up display and a big navigation screen that lifted its base driveaway price in Perth from $43,203 for the manual shift version to about $48,000.
Yep, the Mini, originally developed for everyone’s budget, has evolved into a premium machine, with price to match.
The new one is 10cm longer, has a bigger twin-level boot and fold-down back seats, a switch for its turbo overboost function instead of the earlier button, a big central instrument display, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and all its associated thingies, and a decent thickrimmed steering wheel with various control buttons.
The tail end has also been given some styling treatment and the big-bore chrome-tipped twin exhausts now poke out from beneath their own grille, giving the beastie an even cheekier look.
It has auto-on headlights with a wonderful spread, and rain-sensing wipers, plus the full complement of electronic driving aids and it runs on attractive 17-inch light alloy wheels that fill the body arches nicely.
The Cooper S first came to my attention at the Kyalami racing circuit a long time ago, when a lass named Pat Sonnen- schein drove one in the production car races that knocked spots off the regulars in their much bigger machines.
The Mini was light, super-nimble, scooted through the corners without having to brake and left a trail of embarrassed competition in its wake.
The new one, with BMW power under its air-scooped bonnet, is a versatile little honey that happily chortles off to the supermarket or tackles a track day at Barbagallo Raceway with equal aplomb.
It’s a three-door hatch with four seats, superb ones in front, all the mod cons and safety features one could wish for, but its main attraction remains its huge fun factor. It, and I, could hardly wait for the next corner.
Doesn’t cost much to run either. How about an average 5.5litres/100km?
Verdict: A class act. Loved it.
The cute and eyecatching Mini Coupe Cooper S.