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Watch our full MINI Cooper S review
What did we drive?
Colour: Pepper White
Interior: Cloth/leather Diamond Carbon Black/Carbon Black
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Model Line: Cooper S Sport LCI
Wheels: 17” Track Spoke Alloys
Engine: 2.0-l MINI TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder
0-62: 6.9 Seconds
Price: OTR from £16,895
*Prices and model lines correct at the time of publication
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The smallest engine in the range comes in the Mini One, and it’s a 1.5L, three-cylinder petrol engine that’ll give you 102 brake horsepower. The Cooper S also boasts a 1.5L turbo, but this one will give you 136 bhp. Next up is the car we drove, which is the Cooper S, which had a 2.0L, four-cylinder which turns out 192bhp…not too shabby.
If that’s not enough, and I assure you, it will be; you can take home a John Cooper Works. And you’ll get there quickly, with a total of 231 horses. Each of these models get slightly different equipment, body styling, and of course engine tuning.
The MINI has developed over the years, but the essence of the brand remains the same. It’s fun, eye-catching and unique.
We drove the five-door Hatchback Cooper S Sport, which gets you some aggressive body-styling and sporty touches such as the air scoop in the bonnet, rear apron with diffuser and central twin exhaust tailpipe.
The Cooper S also kits you out with the John Cooper Works Sport Kit. Amongst other things that's the sports spoiler, 17" alloy wheels and John Cooper Works door sill finishers. Ours also had the optional darkened rear glass which contrasted even more against the white paint.
If you’ve never driven a MINI, go out and try one. I guarantee it’ll make you smile.
We drove the Cooper S Sport, with a total of 192bhp and all of those horses clubbed together to make a car that was exhilarating to drive. Our Videographer, who constantly remarks on my less than speedy driving style, commented that this car had turned me into a rally driver. I even had my own 'Italian Job' moment when I had to reverse at speed in the lanes to avoid an oncoming lorry struggling to get up a steep hill… not quite box office worthy, but it made for a good story in the office.
It’s a low, sporty driving position in the MINI, so certainly not one for someone who wants to have a commanding road position. However, it feels fun and futuristic, and most importantly customisable – especially if you go for the Exclusive Pack. When you switch between driving modes, unlike some other cars I've been in, you can feel the difference between modes. In this case (optional extra) there are three of them; Eco, Mid and Sport. The results of which are pretty self-explanatory.
Interior and Space
You’ve heard it countless times before, so there’s no point spending a lot of time on it. But, no, the MINI is no longer 'mini'. In reality, it’s a really good size, and we compared it to the space you get in an Audi A1 which incidentally we drove earlier that morning. Both driver and front passenger would be happy with legroom, and the windows manage a wonderful balance of making you feel enclosed within the cockpit, but without feeling claustrophobic.
Headspace in the rear is very good, apart from a slight lip right at the back which might hinder taller passengers. There are three seats in the back, but realistically it's three children or two adults… you might get away with two adults and a child, but certainly not with a child seat.
This car was fitted with a comfort pack, which gave us niceties such as floor mats, seat height adjustment and heated front seats, a front centre armrest, parking sensors and automatic air conditioning. If boot space is your be-all and end-all, the MINI isn't bad, but perhaps consider some other alternatives such as the Ford Fiesta or VW Polo.
Technology and Connectivity
This MINI came with a navigation pack, which allowed us Apple Car Play, Sat Nav and a Visual Boost Radio. The centre screen was clear, simplistic and responsive, and could be controlled as a touchscreen or via the dial down in the centre console.
As I mentioned previously in my Mazda3 review, I’m not overly fussed by touchscreens but found this one to be fairly simple, and therefore less of a distraction when on the road.
Where many big-name brands are just starting to boast their ambient lighting systems, MINI have had theirs for ages and it works brilliantly. No trawling through countless menu options to personalise; with this, you just toggle the switch by the reading lights and you immediately change the feel of the car. Other bonus bits include LED headlights and cruise control.
I explained the model lines earlier on (but if you want to know more about these, just get in touch with one of our experts), so let's look at the specs. You actually get quite a lot of equipment in the MINI to begin with. The brand has moved on from the somewhat confusing Chilli, Pepper etc. packs and stuck to something a bit more intuitive.
As standard (Classic) on the five-door Hatch you'll get:
- Front and rear automatic LED Headlights
- Rain Sensors
- 6.5 Inch Screen
- Bluetooth hands free function
- DAB Radio
- Interior lights pack
- Manual Air Conditioning
- Keyless start
- Auto Start/Stop function
- Cloth seats
- 15" steel or alloy wheels (16" alloys on the Cooper S)
- John Cooper Works Aerodynamic Kit
- John Cooper Works Spoiler
- JCW Sports Seats
- JCW Sport leather steering wheel
- JCW Door Sill finishers
- Cruise Control
- Sport Suspension
- Personalised Steering Wheel, Sports Seats and gearstick
- Chrome Line interior
- Chrome Line Exterior
Note: While the equipment lines are a lot easier to differentiate, it’s worth checking with the team to see which MINI they are available on, as it can vary from model to model.
If I were to rate it out of 10, I'd give it a solid 8.5.
Now, you need to remember that we're not matching this one up against a Lamborghini or Ferrari, of course, we're not. We're thinking about overall enjoyment, design, tech and value for money pitted up against its direct competitors... the likes of Volkswagen Golf, Fiat 500 or even the Audi A1 or BMW 1 Series.
With this particular car, the styling speaks for itself and once you get over the slightly odd sensation of not having a large screen in front of the steering wheel, you appreciate the more simplistic way of driving. The 6-speed manual gearbox is satisfyingly easy to use, although you do have to be careful not to accidentally go into reverse when intending on first and vice versa.
You can get sensors and a parking camera, visibility is pretty decent, so perhaps you can save a bit of money by passing on those. Although, all in all, the cost options aren't as expensive as its competitors.
So, would I encourage you to go for a Mini? Well, are there other cheaper alternatives? Yes. Do they come with more technology? Well, probably, yes. Will you enjoy driving them as much as the Mini? I doubt it.
I think that answers your question.