MINI COOPER S CON­VERT­IBLE

Ger­manic Mini gets a mid-life nip-and-tuck!

Evo India - - CONTENTS - Adil Jal Darukhanawala

JUST A MONTH BE­FORE I WAS tasked with the ob­jec­tive of driv­ing the new­est Mini, I had the pleas­ant op­por­tu­nity of once again re-ac­quaint­ing my­self with a 1960s’ ex­am­ple of the Alec Is­sigo­nis orig­i­nal. I liked the thought and ex­e­cu­tion of that tiny tot which went on to rev­o­lu­tionise small cars via its im­pec­ca­ble pack­ag­ing tem­plate. As much a style icon as well as a marvel of man­ners (hair­ily civilised if I could term it that way), so many how­ever rel­e­gated cramped driv­ing po­si­tions and low floors and such in a daily driver to the back of their minds and the Mini be­came, and still re­mains, an icon of a cult that re­fuses to fade away.

See­ing the Mini un­der BMW evolve, so far away from the Is­sigo­nis ge­nius yet so well within his orig­i­nal am­bit in a larger pro­por­tion, I had mixed feel­ings about it for a long time. Also the ad­vent into other body style ex­ten­sions – Coun­try­man, Club­man,Coupe, 5-door, etc, I was con­cerned that BMW’s prod­uct plan­ners were tak­ing a lot of lib­er­ties with the ba­sic Is­sigo­nis blue­print un­til I drove the Coupe JCW in the UK about three years ago and then had a Cooper D for a few months to ex­pe­ri­ence in In­dia. It changed my mind to a great ex­tent even though I could only en­vis­age it as a bou­tique of­fer­ing in a mar­ket place like In­dia given its heft (or lack of it) and pri­ce­po­si­tion­ing against other Ger­man of­fer­ings in­clud­ing from par­ent BMW!

So with there be­ing the prospect of a no­holds barred me­dia drive in Mal­lorca I knew that this was some­thing to re­ally look for­ward to and get reac­quainted with the brand. When I men­tion ‘no holds barred’ it was for the first time that Mini or its par­ent BMW had de­vised a drive where we were just handed the car and told to drive over a choice of routes and come back at our leisure by a cer­tain time late in the even­ing. No fuss, no dead­lines, no lim­its on dis­tance, etc, etc. And to top it all, the venue seemed to be or­dained to the car and vice versa! Mal­lorca is a sun-kissed is­land with nar­row twisty roads over moun­tains that play host to some of the top bi­cy­cle rac­ing events in Europe and many a time in ac­tu­al­ity I thought the roads were made for two or a max of three cy­clists to run along­side each other all the while rub­bing el­bows as they did so! Mean­ing in ef­fect just the habi­tat for a perky mile muncher with fun spelt out in its per­for­mance reper­toire to feel at home!

So lets be­gin with what drives the re­freshed third gen Mini Cooper S and the trusty 1998cc turbo-four is just the right ticket for this car. With 192 gen­uine horses on call there is am­ple power but what is even more im­pres­sive is the sweet rush of 300Nm of torque that makes the drive so al­lur­ing. I had the chance to drive both a cabrio as well as its all metal hatch­back vari­ant and I found the car to be fun, whether it was equipped with Mini’s new 7-speed dual clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion or the even more fun-in­duc­ing 6-speed man­ual that comes as the stan­dard of­fer­ing. The fu­elling is crisp, the re­sponse in­tu­itively sharp or pro­gres­sive given your state of be­ing and the Mini Cooper S re­sponds in kind. The en­gine com­ple­ments the ea­ger play­ful chas­sis and this com­bi­na­tion makes the Mini Cooper S just the ideal tackle to take on twisty moun­tain roads, with or with­out ir­ri­tat­ingly quick or lum­ber­ing cy­clists!

Steer­ing the Mini is a breeze not be­cause of

the fact that pitch it into a corner at slightly above sen­si­ble speeds and yet the car comes out of the bend in the in­tended safe tra­jec­tory and stick­ing to terra firma (Mal­lor­can tar­mac was grippy to say the least), but the fact that you seem al­ways in con­trol. This is de­spite the fact that given its wheels positioned ex­tremely on the edge of all four cor­ners, a ride that is firm yet not bouncy, an al­most flat cor­ner­ing (read that as neg­li­gi­ble body roll) and you know that you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the go-kart sen­sa­tion al­beit in a plush, safe and even more pow­er­ful en­vi­ron­ment! Heck this is even bet­ter than what I ex­pected! And on the brakes the car is com­posed with­out the has­sle of think­ing the rear would over­take the front! In all the strong han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics and good man­ner­isms dis­played at speed, the ride is of an un­usu­ally high or­der though I must say that this car is only for a young cou­ple with no kids!

The big­gest changes to the ex­te­rior mostly in­volve a choice of new al­loy wheels (three dif­fer­ent de­signs to chose from in Europe), a new palette of body colours and the adop­tion of LED lights front and rear. As I men­tioned at the be­gin­ning of the fea­ture, it is a Ger­manic ren­di­tion of a Bri­tish orig­i­nal so BMW has had to re­in­force its Bri­tish traits and it has iron­i­cally de­cided to do so – in the era of Brexit that too!, with the LEDs on the tail light in the form of the Union Jack! Dis­tinc­tive even if de­bate in­duc­ing, I liked them on both counts! The front head­lights now fea­ture DRLs around the en­tire cir­cum­fer­ence and a part of this con­vert into turn sig­nal in­di­ca­tors.

Be­ing Mini and a style icon as well, there’s heaps of per­son­al­i­sa­tion on the anvil within the in­te­rior which now comes with a new in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that in­cor­po­rates Ap­ple’s CarPlay. The funky in­stru­men­ta­tion and switchgear of the orig­i­nal BMW-de­signed Mini re­mains in­tact and just as in­tox­i­cat­ingly bril­liant to the touch and the eyes and among the re­ally nice touches was the way the pud­dle lamps plus the sill dec­o­ra­tion emit the same Union Jack theme!

This is a car that one should buy for driv­ing with one’s beloved and savour­ing the long way back home. For any other ap­pli­ca­tions there is al­ways the Se­ries 1 or 2 or 3! Think then that BMW has cov­ered all bases and is laugh­ing all the way to the bank; at least in Europe while here it holds it­self as the best bou­tique of­fer­ing from any main­stream OEM. And that is say­ing quite a lot. ⌧

This is a car for driv­ing with one’s beloved and savour­ing the long way back home

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