MINI COOPER S

Flag-laden hatch lives up to fun vibes

Motor (Australia) - - FAST BLAST - – Chris Thomp­son

THE NEW COOPER S has landed with a re­vised (but not more pow­er­ful) en­gine and a more ‘pa­tri­otic’ Union Jack mo­tif. That en­gine still makes 141kW, but 300Nm ar­rives just above idle, used well by its new sev­en­speed dual-clutch. Quick, smooth (and non-ar­gu­men­ta­tive) shifts are al­most enough to lure a proper en­thu­si­ast away from the man­ual, as it feels more like a very fast torque-con­verter than a DCT. Un­der­neath is a chas­sis that’s fun to toy with on a twisty road, es­pe­cially with a dab of mid-cor­ner brak­ing for some play­ful ro­ta­tion. The Mini re­mains rel­a­tively light given the pudgi­ness of some of its ri­vals, and it feels it in al­most ev­ery way aside from the steer­ing. Even out of Sport Mode, some­thing you’ll want on in the twisties, the steer­ing is too heavy, be­com­ing worse in the more ag­gres­sive set­ting. Each el­e­ment of the car de­serves in­di­vid­ual ad­justa­bil­ity, as can be done in the JCW. But for $42,700 ($39,900 with a man­ual ‘box), the Mini feels like a pretty good deal. Its in­te­rior is quite sleek if specced well (as black as pos­si­ble is a good choice), and the amount of fun you can have with the car is more ac­ces­si­ble than some­thing like the more ma­ture and pricier Golf GTI. If you can look past the ‘cute’ im­age, you’ll find fun ga­lore. SPECS: 2.0 I4T; 141kW @ 5000rpm; 300Nm @ 1250rpm; FWD; 1195kg; $42,700

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