The MINI a car BMW have been slowly enlarging, and this traditional 3dr hatch is no different. This is because it is now almost 100mm longer than the previous version, 44mm wider and an entire 7mm taller. Compare this to the original MINI then and it feels like you have parked a cruise liner next to it. The exterior of this car is more evolutionary than revolutionary, it carries forward all the prior design cues. The exception being some bigger rear light clusters and front lights, plus minor tweaks to the bumpers. Thus, unless you know your MINI’s you wouldn’t be able to tell. If you look at the front of the car you get clues that this is the S version. The first one being the letter S stuck on the front, the other clues being the air intake on the bonnet and a feistier looking front bumper. Moving around to the back of the car past the 17inch black alloys, which you definitely would not want to scuff is a further clue. Yes, you guessed it, another S badge. Other than that, you have the twin exit exhaust, which protrudes from the middle of the bumper. Rev the engine, and you get a lovely burbling sound with cracks and pops the more you rev.
Talking of the engine, it is a 2-litre engine with an output of 192 BHP and 280NM torque. This means that the cooper S can do 0-62MPH in a little under 7 Seconds. BMW have managed to make this round peg 2.0 litre fit the previously square hole 1.6 litre engine bay, using all the latest engine advancements along the way. The gearbox now also gets some refinement as well as being lighter, it now also gets carbon particle linings on its synchroniser rings for added improvement. The gearbox now also gets a better flywheel for that are too boring to explain.
The interior whilst it looks familiar to the old car, gets some much-needed updates. For example, the car I drove gets the 8-inch infotainment display. Which has a remodelled BMW I-drive system to match the MINIs quirkiness. Oh, and according to the man at MINI the I-drive system was originally MINIs idea, until BMW nicked it of them. Anyway, the system itself is very easy to use, using the little swivel wheel next to the gearstick, you can choose what you want on the screen. The screen itself is high res and quite easy to see on a cold wet October day. Other interior details are the very nice and tactile aeroplane style switches that control various things on the car, like the switch to start the engine. The steering wheel is a chunky size with many switches on to control the radio and cruise control. Now moving on to interior storage, there isn’t much, not that you would expect it anyway from a MINI. It has a good-sized glovebox, to go along with the hand storage in the armrest and its five cup holders. This I was and still am quite confused by considering it only seats four. Other than that, there isn’t really anymore storage as the door bins are tiny, you could perhaps fit an ant in them. The boot is tiny as you would expect, it is quite clever though. It has an adjustable floor which means there is no load lip, and that when you put the seats down in the back means you get an entirely flat floor.
The passenger space is almost Jekyll and Hyde, in the front you have acres of space and lots of adjustment on the seats, which include lumber support on this model. The back is good if you intend on carrying amputees. If you are not it is a very tight squeeze and you will have to politely ask the people in the front to move their seats forward. But first you will have to negotiate getting in the back which is difficult to say the least. This also means that fitting a baby seat is going to be very difficult, although the back seats do come with ISO-fix points.
Now most important bit, the driving. Driving around Surbiton / Thames Ditton I found the car very responsive, the steering is light and feels direct. You also have good throttle response meaning the car feels quite nippy. I did however feel that the car felt massive on the road, thinking twice about gaps I would normally not hesitate over, as I am used to driving vans. I found that the visibility was good, thus had a good understanding of my surrounding on the road. Although the bonnet is quite large and dips of towards the end, I found it quite easy to gauge where the nose of the car was, in relation to other cars. Moving on to the suspension, it is quite stiff meaning the ride is quite jiggly, however as this car is supposed to feel like driving a go-kart it is understandable. The seats are however very comfortable and supportive, which should compensate for the stiff ride.
Overall, I fell in love with this car. I liked is quirkiness, the styling and the way it drove. This car then is probably the next car I shall buy, and considering how picky I am about cars this is very high praise.