Driven: Mini Cooper S – The Best Driving Small Car in the World

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Photos: Shyam Srinivas Krishnan


Boys never grow up, but their toys get bigger and more expensive. One such toy is the all-new Mini Cooper S. To my eyes, it looks like a toy. It is just 3850 mm long and 1727 mm wide, making it almost dinky in size. Let’s see if the Cooper S continues to be one of my all-time favourite cars.

 

How the toy looks inside….

 

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The interior is similar to the last-gen model, but everything feels a lot more special and luxurious. What I love most is the aeroplane style toggle switches. You feel like you are sitting inside a real cockpit with an array of fancy switches and lighting. Everything is top quality, from the switches to the pedals. The large speedometer that’s used to dominate the original Mini and the last generation’s console has now been used exclusively as an infotainment display with an LED ring around to aid the interior mood lighting.

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The interior lighting can be altered to 6 different colours, as you wish, and comes as an optional choice. One of the most important new features is the instrument cluster on the steering column. Key insertion, as previously required, is no longer necessary; the engine of the new Mini can be started by pressing the toggle-type start/stop button as soon as the key is inside the car. Being seated in the rear can be a bit of squeeze, but there’s more than ample room for toddlers. The infotainment controls are not easy to operate since it is below the hand brake.

 

How the toy looks from outside…..

 

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I love the way the Mini looks, in fact I like it more than the Abarth 595. As always, the new Mini Cooper S looks compact and powerful. Everything looks just amazing, except for the larger headlamps which house the semi-circular LED daytime running lights. The large blacked out 17- inch wheels and the new roof-spoiler grabs attention. The new car is 127 millimetres longer, 44 millimetres wider and 7 millimetres higher than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been extended by 28 millimetres, to 2495 millimetres. Luggage compartment volume has been increased by 51 litres to 211 litres.

 

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Features like the radiator grille with the honeycomb pattern, a bumper strip in anthracite, an additional opening in the bonnet, brake air ducts integrated in the lower air inlets, and a separate rear apron with exhaust tailpipes arranged in the centre adds a sporty flair to the car

 

How the toy is to drive…

 

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Under the hood is the new 2.0-litre BMW-sourced Twin Power (not a twin turbo setup) turbo engine that is considerably larger than the old 1.6-litre turbo four. The turbocharged engine pumps out 189bhp of peak power and 280Nm of peak torque(300Nm under over boost when in Sport mode). These figures may not be attractive, but for a car of this size, the power and torque is more than enough. The mid –range is so good, it builds up power flawlessly. There are three driving modes for the Cooper S; Green, Mid and the Sport mode. The Green mode is similar to the Eco Pro mode in the BMW cars. There’s surplus power available everywhere in the rev range. 0-100kmph comes in just 7 seconds, and it goes all the way up to 233kmph. The Mini also has an automatic engine start/stop function for the first time. An additional option for the new MINI Cooper S is the 6-speed sports automatic transmission which enables even shorter shift times and can be operated in manual mode using  paddle shifts. There’s a loud ‘braaap’ from the twin exhausts and a nice pop when up-shifting as well.

 

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The car returned a very good mileage figure indeed, when driven in Green mode. However we can’t drive this car in Green more for too long a period. It urges us to shift to the sport mode just so as to hear the ‘braap’ sound with every gear shift. Driven that way, the mileage figures will drop to a poor figure below 9kmpl. But fuel shouldn’t be a concern if you’re buying a small car priced at Rs. 34.65 lakh (Ex-showroom without any options).

 

The Toy’s features

 

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Although the standard car does not come fully loaded with much, spec your Mini well and you can get a multi-functional steering wheel, dual zone climate control, driving modes, head-up display and a high-end and nice-sounding multimedia system complete with navigation and Bluetooth. That said, electrically-adjustable seats are still not available, a factor that many would find rather annoying. On the safety front, ABS and ESP come as standard, with two front airbags.

 

The Toy Factor

 

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It wasn’t until three years back when I had the privilege to drive the previous generation Cooper S, and in my review, I stated that it was as a fun-to-drive car. Now, I have driven the latest Cooper S, and yes, I am just as impressed with its performance. It is not just performance when it comes to Mini. It’s the feel, the moment you set eyes on it – all adding up to the x-factor. Your neighbours now have a reason to see why small can – in many ways – mean big fun.

 

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Specifications

Brand: Mini

Model: Cooper

Variant: S

Price: Rs. 34.65 lakh (Ex-showroom without any options)

 

Engine

Engine Type: In-line 4 cylinder 2 litre Petrol engine

Displacement: 1998cc

Fuel: Petrol

City / Highway fuel economy: 11.0 kmpl / 14.0 kmpl

Maximum Power: 189bhp@4,700-6,000rpm

Maximum Torque: 280Nm@1,250-4,750rpm

 

Performance

0-100kmph: 7 seconds

Top speed: 233kmph

 

Transmission

 

Layout: Front wheel drive

Gear box: 6 speed Automatic

 

Dimensions

 

Length x width x height: 3850x1727x1414mm

Wheelbase: 2595mm

Kerb Weight: 1175kg

Ground clearance: 180mm

 

Capacity

Boot volume:

Seating capacity: 2+2

Fuel tank: 44 litres

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