A lit­tle car with a big punch


The Citizen (KZN) - - Motoring - Thami Kwazi

In the tra­di­tional style of the orig­i­nal car, the round dis­play re­mains.

My first glimpse of the Mini Cooper’s per­for­mance ca­pa­bil­i­ties was in the 2003 movie The

Ital­ian Job.

Char­l­ize Theron’s char­ac­ter was given the red Mini to drive and her skill, al­beit with the as­sis­tance of a stunt driver, awak­ened a tiny race car driver in me that just wanted to drive a Mini in all sorts of il­le­gal ways.

My dream was re­cently re­alised when the keys to a Mini One 1.5 three-cylin­der auto were de­liv­ered to me.

Just like Theron’s model, mine was chilli red. This uber cute three door model is the stuff chase se­quences are made of. It’s fast, zippy and packs a minia­ture punch (by that I’m re­fer­ring to the take-off).

It’s un­der­stand­able why it could be the car of choice in chase scenes. At no point will you be dis­ap­pointed.

I heard be­fore that pre­vi­ous mod­els had dis­ap­pointed some se­ri­ous petrol­heads by hav­ing a frus­trat­ing turbo lag. This was a few years ago and I’m con­fi­dent that the cur­rent mod­els have been im­proved in that re­gard.

At no point did the car linger or take too long to get to a com­fort­able boil­ing point where the turbo kicked in. The launch was im­me­di­ate.

It takes cor­ners sharply and dis­trib­utes weight evenly, es­pe­cially for a front wheel drive. You never get the im­pres­sion that it may tip over.

The seven-speed dou­ble clutch trans­mis­sion is the one on the sim­pler model.

Look­ing at the in­te­rior, every­thing on the dash­board is round, adding a touch of de­light­ful char­ac­ter to this made-for-fun ve­hi­cle.

Con­nec­tion to the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is ex­tremely easy and the dial lights up like the lights in a night club.

The dial is de­signed like an air­plane cock­pit and can get a bit tricky if you aren’t used to that sort of set-up.

Mini has al­lowed for the driver to cus­tomise the sys­tem, with colour changes for ev­ery set­ting around the LCD.

In the tra­di­tional style of the orig­i­nal car, the round dis­play re­mains, which is a touch of nostalgia per­haps for those loyal mini driv­ers.

I wouldn’t de­scribe this as a fam­ily car, sim­ply be­cause of the size and space ... it is a one to two-per­son car.

A baby seat can be fit­ted into the back but it’s bet­ter to look at the larger mod­els if you’re look­ing to ex­pand your fam­ily.

If you’re look­ing for boot space af­ter a shopping spree, for­get it. This isn’t the car for that ei­ther.

I won’t ad­dress fuel con­sump­tion be­cause it re­ally wasn’t much of an is­sue – a full tank took me through a week of roam­ing around Joburg.

The Mini is a speedy, great look­ing, great to drive ve­hi­cle with a hefty price of R 432 682.50.

James Dean once said “live fast, die young” but the price says other­wise.

But I would grit my teeth and buy this car any­way. Every­thing about it speaks to me.

Pic­tures: Sup­plied

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