Cos­metic changes are Mini-mal

South Western Times - - Wheels - Ewan Kennedy

It’s hard to be­lieve the Mini is now in its 60th year, these days its shape is ar­guably one of the most recog­nis­able of all. It be­gan life as a tiny no-non­sense veryprac­ti­cal car that could carry four peo­ple with less squeez­ing than you might ex­pect, but be­came a leg­end in its own life­time.

Or rather two life­times, be­cause the BMW Mini, launched in 2001 after the British maker got into so much fi­nan­cial strife that the Ger­man com­pany moved in to sort out the mess.

Clev­erly, styling changes on the lat­est Mini that we have just road tested are min­i­mal. In­stead of mak­ing ex­te­rior changes, tech­nol­ogy and in­fo­tain­ment have re­ceived ma­jor up­grades based on those in­tro­duced in re­cent years on BMW’s own mod­els. Though to as­sist those who are right into cus­tomi­sa­tion, a new palette of colours and trims have been in­tro­duced.

Styling

There’s a fas­ci­nat­ing 3D de­sign of the Mini logo, used not only on the ex­te­rior of the car, but also on the steer­ing wheel, the dash­board, key fob and the pro­jec­tion light­ing.

New de­sign LED lights are stan­dard on the Cooper S – the model we test – and on John Cooper Works. The LEDs are in­te­grated into the main head­light fit­ting and in­crease both low- and high-beam range.

An op­tional adap­tive LED sys­tem us­ing a ma­trix high beam func­tion that adapts to the road ahead was on our test car and cer­tainly made night driv­ing safer and sim­pler.

Highly dis­tinc­tive Union Jack­styled tail­lights on Cooper S we drove be­came talk­ing points with the oc­cu­pants of fol­low­ing ve­hi­cles. There are also Union Jack mo­tifs on the dash­board.

In­fo­tain­ment

The up­dated Mini sees the in­tro­duc­tion of Mini Con­nected that uses a touch­screen in­ter­face and the 4G net­work. Though the touch­screen sits in a huge round area in the cen­tre of the dash the screen it­self is tiny at just 6.5 inches.

In­cluded are Real-Time Traf­fic In­for­ma­tion as well as Re­mote Ser­vices, Con­nected Ser­vices, Tele Ser­vices and a Concierge func­tion.

Mini Con­nected Ser­vices pro­vides weather in­for­ma­tion, key points of in­ter­est, news items, petrol sta­tion lo­ca­tions and send-to-car func­tion­al­ity.

The Mini Con­nected App pro­vides send-to-car that uses your cal­en­dar and con­tact data. This can be used for nav­i­ga­tion with the car sug­gest­ing de­par­ture times based on cur­rent traf­fic in­for­ma­tion.

Pow­er­trains

While the MY19 Mini's en­gines don’t pro­duce any more power or torque than in the su­per­sede car, but care­ful in­ter­nal re­vi­sions have

taken out a lit­tle weight to im­prove their abil­ity to quickly pick up revs.

The Cooper S has a 2.0-litre four­cylin­der turbo-petrol unit that pro­duces 141 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque.

Trans­mis­sion op­tions are ei­ther a six-speed man­ual gear­box or a sports-tuned seven-speed du­al­clutch au­to­matic with pad­dle shifters for ad­di­tional con­trol.

The JCW’s dual-clutch in­cludes launch con­trol to min­imise stand­ing-start times.

In­ter­est­ingly the JCW has an eight-speed sports con­ven­tional au­to­matic rather than a DCT.

Driv­ing

The words ‘go-cart han­dling’ have been used in ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion about Minis I’ve ever had since first own­ing one in the mid 1970s, and I used it again last week while de­scrib­ing the up­dated for 2019 model to a car-mad neigh­bour.

Steer­ing and han­dling let you use a com­bi­na­tion of the throt­tle and steer­ing wheel that’s all-but in­tu­itive. You re­ally do see a bend and the car and you work to­gether to get quickly and safely around it.

En­gine lag is min­i­mal and once it’s passed there’s strong torque that makes light work of hills. If you en­gage the Sport mode for added fun not only do you get bet­ter per­for­mance, but also a much im­proved ex­haust note.

The au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is vir­tu­ally al­ways in the cor­rect gear, though habit had us prob­a­bly us­ing the pad­dle shifters more than they were re­quired. Hav­ing said that, there’s no way I would buy a Mini of any sort with an au­to­matic…

Ride com­fort is gen­er­ally good, but some hard bumps and dips did find their way into the in­te­rior.

Sum­ming up

BMW Mini is a de­light to drive and to look at. In­deed many spend more time im­prov­ing the looks to their taste than ac­tu­ally con­cen­trat­ing on the driv­ing. A car for all ages and uses. Love it.

The shape of the Mini is ar­guably one of the most recog­nis­able of all cars.

The touch­screen in the cen­tre of the dash con­nects to the 4G net­work to of­fer real-time traf­fic in­for­ma­tion.

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