Sporty MINI is a mo­tor­ing fash­ion­ista’s dream ride

Gloucestershire Echo - - TEST DRIVE - By PETER KEENAN

WITH Union Jack rear lights and ‘The Ital­ian Job’ vibe in full flow it is im­pos­si­ble not to have fun in the MINI Cooper.

The com­mute to work be­comes one end­less Michael Caine riff with, ‘you’re only sup­posed to blow the bloody doors off’, my par­tic­u­lar favourite from one trav­el­ling companion.

The ex­te­rior of the three-door model suc­cess­fully apes the 1960s iconic de­sign so while be­ing help­fully much larger when it comes to pas­sen­gers and shop­ping, it still in­vokes the era of mini skirts and The Bea­tles.

For those proud of their

coun­try this MINI is the place to be as they can also spec­ify an il­lu­mi­nated Union Flag on the pas­sen­ger-side dash­board. Flick the ig­ni­tion tog­gle and the 1.5-litre petrol en­gine springs into life pro­vid­ing the propul­sion to zip you around town avoiding the Cara­binieri to your heart’s con­tent.

The tur­bocharged three-pot en­gine offers a great sound­track as you pull away and is no slouch hit­ting 62mph from a stand­ing start in eight sec­onds on its way to a top speed of 130mph.

Its part­ner in crime is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic trans­mis­sion that is smoother than Hol­ly­wood legend David Niven pro­vid­ing seam­less changes.

The power unit, with the help of stop-start and a ‘Green’ economy driv­ing mode, is easy on the juice as well with a claimed av­er­age fuel economy fig­ure of 54.3mpg and carbon diox­ide emis­sions of 119g/km.

If you’ve been around the MINI brand since BMW took it on in 2001 then the de­scrip­tion of ‘go-kart han­dling’ will be no sur­prise, but it re­mains the best way to de­scribe the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Cooper Sport sam­pled here cor­ners as if on rails with no body roll and a ton of grip in­spir­ing lots of con­fi­dence to go on the at­tack. It is fun with a capital ‘F’ with the low-slung driv­ing po­si­tion seal­ing the deal.

The range starts with the sur­pris­ingly well-equipped Clas­sic and goes on to the Ex­clu­sive at the sum­mit. The Sport ver­sion sits in the mid­dle of the pair of­fer­ing 17-inch al­loy wheels and a sump­tu­ous in­te­rior full of natty retro de­tail­ing in­clud­ing the iconic din­ner plate display which is home to the sat nav and a colour­ful outer ring that flashes when it wants to at­tract your at­ten­tion.

Also in­cluded are com­fort­able and sup­port­ive sports seats as well as cruise con­trol and the abil­ity to per­son­alise the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior to within an inch of their lives.

There are tog­gle switches on the cen­tre con­sole and a Bmw-style idrive con­troller be­tween the front seats giv­ing easy ac­cess to the car’s many good­ies. Smart­phones can be hooked up via Ap­ple Carplay.

The cabin offers plenty of space up front with com­pre­hen­sive ad­just­ment for both seat and steer­ing wheel en­sur­ing the best pos­si­ble driv­ing po­si­tion.

The three-door model is a lit­tle tighter in the rear than the five-door ver­sion with legroom de­pen­dent on the size of the adults in front of you.

There are plenty of stor­age op­tions with two glove­boxes and a cen­tral arm­rest that pro­vides a home for your mo­bile phone.

The boot, with a twin-floor as stan­dard, can cope with 211 litres of shop­ping or a cou­ple of carry-on lug­gage cases for that hol­i­day flight abroad.

The lat­est MINI has been busy hoover­ing up awards and it’s easy to see why as this mo­tor­ing fash­ion­ista’s dream hatch­back seems set to re­tain its place in the na­tion’s af­fec­tions.

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