BEHIND THE WHEEL: Mini Cooper S
SUNDAY APRIL 20, 2014
When the Cooper S was previewed over a month ago, I had my fingers crossed in hopes that it will come with adaptive dampers or at least let buyers have the choice as an option since our roads only gets worse. As usual hope and dreams are often left shattered, I didn’t pay much attention to the Cooper until.. a conversation over coffee sparked an itch to find out just how loud the new Cooper S is.
Gone is its charming looks and metal clank door close. It now looks oddly long from A pillar forward to its cosmetic bonnet scoop. Despite all that, I knew the new look will eventually grow on me especially one in volcanic orange. It is also more of an everyday car than ever since there is more space and most importantly, more power. It must be said that the quality on the insides have been vastly improved but I wish there were more soft touch panels to prevent bruising on knees and elbows.
Gunpowder exhaust system
Class leading interior
One stiff ride
The Cooper S has always been one of my babies and it is no different this time. The new car looks like it got it all, only in larger dimensions and a whole lot of technology. Head-up display and adaptive headlamps are two things we didn't get. At least it appears to be a bargain at 228 thousand where it is cheaper by a whole 12 compared to the R56. Then again, the one you truly want is the Wired trim which costs 20 thousand. That premium will bring about a larger screen, satellite navigation, Harman Kardon speakers and three years warranty.
These people really know colours that I adore since the Cooper S I received was painted in chilli red. The first kink I encountered was that the keyless go feature does not allow its user to unlock the car without having to take the key out which to me, doesn't serve its purpose. What's more is that the beeps and bongs that a Mini makes is fun at first but got annoying as time goes.
The seat are still not electrically powered but I'll take it as a measure to save weight. That aside, my hands tell me that they like the S' quick ratio steering wheel that sends out well-judged weightage. As I gave it some poke, the carried over Aisin 6-speed transmission showed its age where it doesn't come close to BMW's 8-speed ZF. Despite a 0-100 km/h sprint of 6.7 seconds, it just doesn't feel the part. What's worse is that the Cooper S doesn’t put down power as well as a Golf GTi.
I then got some helpful friends to drive me about town where I soon discover life in the back isn't as bad as it used to be. Not sure if saying that I'd rather be in the back of one of these than a 911 does it justice. With a longer wheelbase and growth of over four inches, the Cooper is now better riding than what it replaces.
Ignore all that, wind the window down and listen to the exhaust as the engine nudges 6000 before grabbing the next gear. Lift offs in sport mode will grant you plentiful of comical overrun. The Mini Cooper S' exhaust is never shy of firing away pops and burbles where I couldn’t refrain from laughing.
If you want one, don't have hopes for discounts and you might get your shipment sometime in August. For about the same money, you could get yourself a used Porsche Boxster which grants you driving nirvana. Despite that, the Mini will cost much less to run and will be free from maintenance longer.
" Downshift for pop, bangs
and crackles "