This sample model is a Complete Built Up (CBU) fully imported car for the Malaysian market. Similar to the new VW Beetle, the redesigned Mini Cooper by BMW since 2001 is an icon itself. It featured heavily in toys, scale models and even remote control cars. When you finally get in to one and drive it, it’s a surreal experience, feeling like you are driving the toys that you played with!
This is the latest version of the Cooper S. The previous version which was featured in the remake of the “Italian Job” had a supercharged engine. The supercharger is now replaced with a turbocharger for better fuel efficiency and improved power (by 5hp).
All Mini Cooper S models have a distinct scoop in the bonnet which makes it easy to separate a Mini Cooper S from basic Mini Cooper model.
Its overall dimensions are slightly larger than the previous version. Although the car has compact dimensions, it is built like a tank. In fact the doors are so heavy you’ll feel as though they are bullet proof! All occupants are well protected with a host of safety features including Air Bags and Dynamic Stability Control.
Cute and stylish is how I would describe the interior. In a nutshell it has ‘fun’ written all over it. Even the switches and indicators have a cheeky feel to it. It has a large speedometer in the centre of the dashboard and a rev counter in front of the steering wheel. The steering wheel with gearshift paddles provides good grip and has multifunction buttons.
The seats are comfortable but not in the same class as the BMW 3 and 5 series. The car is designed to take in 4 passengers but realistically the rear seats are only for 2 small adults. Getting in and out of the car for rear passengers takes some effort.
Start the engine and the first thing you’ll notice is that for a 4 cylinder car, engine noise is quite loud even from the inside. Perhaps this was done intentionally to mark the character of the car.
Step on the gas and the car just takes off. Since it’s a front wheel drive car, the power can be easily ‘felt’ on the throttle.
There was no discernible turbo lag which frequently plagued many turbo charged cars. The car wants to be driven hard and coupled with the engine roar each time you accelerate, makes it an irresistible combination.
The car handles well and there is good feedback from the steering wheel. Being compact, it is quite easy to steer. This model which I sampled did not include BMW’s Park Distance Control, but parking was not difficult due to the car’s smaller dimensions.
This sampled car is equipped with a 6 speed automatic transmission with sports option.
It also has the Steptronic gear change and gearshift paddles on the steering wheel if one wished to engage the transmission manually.
Both manual modes were quite responsive but you’ll need to time your acceleration to derive the full benefits.
I tried the sports option on the run but it did not give the desired impact that I imagined. It felt as though the car just shifted to a lower gear and the RPM hit a higher scale (around 3k-4k).
Noise level was also up a notch. However, it did help improve acceleration time and it would be useful if you need to overtake over a short distance.
The car was shod with 17 inch runflat tyres. The suspension was firm but comfortable. I initially thought the car may be riding on the low side, but it took bumps and humps in its stride without hitting the undercarriage. The car grips well and has good brakes.The sound system was adequate but sounded a bit thin by default. You’ll need to boost the bass and treble levels to optimize the sound. At times the music was easily drowned by the engine roar.
Switches need some getting used to. Firstly, the placement of some switches are not at their usual places (eg the power windows switches are near the centre console) and some switches like the side wing mirrors had a unique way of operating. Most unusual was the bonnet release which was located at the front passenger’s side.
At night the Xenon head lamps were bright and easily illuminated the road in front. The optional lights package was fun to play with. You can change the colour (5 types) of the interior lights in the roof lining and door storage compartment. However, the effect is very subtle and is only visible when your surroundings are dark.
|Engine:||1.6 litre, turbocharged|
|Acceleration 0-100km:||7.1 sec|
Source: Mini Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized Mini dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!