MINI ONE, COOPER & COOPER S

At first glance, you prob­a­bly won’t no­tice the MINI-mal­is­tic aes­thetic changes on the lat­est MINI range com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sors, FERDI DE VOS reck­ons. How­ever, un­der the skin, the changes are quite ex­ten­sive, rang­ing from tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments t

Driven - - CONTENTS -

MINI good­ness with­out a mini price tag

It’s a new MINI, with a new lease on life. And yet, it only fea­tures a sub­tle aes­thetic changeup that, ac­cord­ing to MINI, only serves to fur­ther strengthen the char­ac­ter and ap­peal of its premium small car seg­ment con­tenders.

How­ever, the em­pha­sis was on ra­tio­nal­is­ing driv­e­train op­tions while ex­tend­ing the range of stan­dard fea­tures and in­cor­po­rat­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy of the con­nec­tiv­ity va­ri­ety.

This MIN­I­mal­ist back-to-MINI-roots ap­proach is also ev­i­dent in the new MINI logo that makes its de­but on these core mod­els. It’s au­then­tic in style as it re-in­ter­prets the ex­ist­ing logo with a two-di­men­sional ‘flat’ de­sign that re­flects a re­newed brand iden­tity “with a fo­cus on the essen­tials”.

TWEAkED Ex­TE­RIOR

A prom­i­nent vis­ual dif­fer­ence is newly shaped cir­cu­lar head­lights that fea­ture an added black panel that serves as a strik­ing ac­cen­tu­a­tion. The op­tional LED lights are en­tirely redesigned, with the LED day­time driv­ing lights and turn in­di­ca­tors gen­er­at­ing a daz­zling ring that sur­rounds the en­tire head­light con­tour.

The adap­tive LED lights now also fea­ture an auto dip func­tion for the high beam.

Also, don’t be be­daz­zled or stand to at­ten­tion when a bright LED Union Jack ap­pears while fol­low­ing one of the new MINI mod­els. As an­other ref­er­ence to the brand’s British ori­gins, the up­right rear light units now ap­pear in the British flag mo­tif – recre­ated in the struc­ture of the light func­tions. And op­tional with the MINI Ex­cite­ment Pack­age, is a MINI logo light pro­jec­tor on the driver’s side.

Three new body fin­ishes also makes its de­but in the shade of Emer­ald Grey metal­lic, Starlight Blue metal­lic and So­laris Or­ange metal­lic. The list of op­tional equip­ment items now fea­tures a Piano Black Ex­te­rior that ex­tends to the head­light sur­rounds, rear tail­light clus­ters and ra­di­a­tor grille.

Oh, and the se­lec­tion of 17” al­loy wheels has also been ex­panded.

MORE IN­DI­VID­U­AL­I­SA­TION

In­side, an even broader se­lec­tion of seat trims, in­te­rior sur­faces and colour lines are avail­able, in­clud­ing Ch­ester Leather that comes in Malt Brown, or an op­tional Piano Black. The lat­ter comes with an il­lu­mi­nated and stylised Union Jack mo­tif on the pas­sen­ger-side in­stru­ment panel.

The ‘MINI Yours’ per­son­al­is­ing pro­gramme raises in­di­vid­u­al­ism to a new level. It in­cludes retro­fit prod­ucts that are de­signed by cus­tomers and pro­duced ac­cord­ing to in­di­vid­ual spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

The three-spoke steer­ing wheel looks a tad bet­ter and fea­tures mul­ti­func­tion au­dio con­trol but­tons. A 6.5” in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity now comes as stan­dard on all mod­els.

Wire­less charg­ing and the MINI Con­nected sys­tem is avail­able as op­tional equip­ment, while Con­nected Me­dia with nav­i­ga­tion comes stan­dard on Cooper and Cooper S mod­els.

FUN DRIVE

The en­gine line-up has now been ra­tio­nalised to only two petrol en­gines. These in­clude the BMW-devel­oped 1.5-litre three-cylin­der en­gine with TwinPower turbo tech­nol­ogy, and the fa­mil­iar 2.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo unit that was car­ried over from the pre­vi­ous mod­els.

In MINI One con­fig­u­ra­tion, the en­hanced 1,499 cc mill pro­duces 75 kW (the same power as the pre­vi­ous 1.2-litre en­gine, but at lower r/min) and 190 Nm of torque (10 Nm more than the 1.2-litre mill, but at slightly higher revs) while in Cooper guise, it de­liv­ers 100 kW and 220 Nm of twist­ing force.

In­ter­est­ingly, the MINI One with its en­gine mated to the stan­dard six-speed man­ual ’box is slightly faster to 100 km/h than the au­to­matic model with its seven-speed Step­tronic dou­ble clutch trans­mis­sion (10.1 sec­onds ver­sus 10.2 sec­onds). In all other guises, the auto model is slightly quicker.

While the One de­riv­a­tives were not avail­able at the launch in Cape Town, the some­what lan­guid per­for­mance of the new 100 kW Cooper at sea level (in terms of what one ex­pects from a MINI) does not bode well for the func­tion­ing of the 75 kW model at higher al­ti­tudes.

How­ever, the new, lighter 2.0-litre Cooper S with 141 kW on tap and 280 Nm of torque avail­able at a low 1,250 r/min, felt as lively and dy­namic as its pre­de­ces­sors; sprint­ing from zero to 100 km/h in 6,7 sec­onds and reach­ing a top speed of 207 km/h (in 3-door auto guise).

The Cooper S is also nim­bler in the bends, and in my view, the 5-door model is the bet­ter choice; given its bet­ter prac­ti­cal­ity and fan­tas­tic han­dling traits thanks to a longer wheel­base. The Cooper de­riv­a­tive, how­ever, is the best pick if you are con­sid­er­ing the Con­vert­ible model.

LAST WORD

The lat­est up­grades again high­light the ma­ture, yet distinc­tive charisma of the brand, and the new en­gine-trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tions are in line with MINI’s fo­cus on the essen­tials. How­ever, it comes at a cost, as prices now range from R302,200 for the 3-door One hatch with man­ual trans­mis­sion to R459,400 for the 5-door Cooper S auto. The Con­vert­ible de­riv­a­tives are even more ex­pen­sive, with the Cooper auto priced at R444,200 and the Cooper S auto avail­able for R515,559.

BMW 1 SE­RIESR433,980 - R559,495

COM­pETI­TORSAUDI A3R432,000 - R608,000

MER­CEDES-BENZ A-CLASSR461,219 - R582,248

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