Mini keeps both power and comfort in mind, as the Mini Cooper S gets a new 187bhp, 2-litre powerplant, and a more spacious cabin. This petrol-powered rocket is guaranteed to thrill Mini Cooper fans with its speed, muscle and legendary handling.
Ever since the launch of the new Mini Cooper diesel last year, many loyalists and enthusiasts have been waiting impatiently for the iconic car manufacturer to launch their more powerful hatch, the Mini Cooper S. And, finally, the covers came off and this ‘hotter’ Mini – which was launched with a price tag of just under 35 lakhs. The price was hardly surprising, and for potential owners it’s not even important. The Mini Cooper S is bought for two reasons – pride and performance! As for everything else, your other cars should be able to take care of those requirements.
There was some concern over the new Ukl platform – also used by BMW for the 1-Series – about whether it would be able to replicate the Mini’s legendary go-kart handling capabilities. Well, let’s just say that they needn’t have been worried. Mini decided to showcase this mighty hatchback’s driving capabilities on the winding roads of the Aamby Valley, and on its picturesque airstrip.
The new Mini Cooper S has grown bigger, but to call it more mature would be to take some of the sheen off this car. It’s furiously aggressive, as Mini has replaced the cute horizontal silver blades on the grille of the regular Mini with a more aggressive honeycomb grid along with huge air intakes on the lower lip. The nose actually resembles the John Cooper Works edition, so one can’t really complain there. And just in case people still can’t distinguish this fire-breather, there’s the signature red S-logo on the honeycomb grille.
The round baby-eyed headlamps now get an upside down smiley LED incorporated in the lamps. In profile, not much has changed because Mini didn’t want to tamper too much with the classic design. The S gets chrome vents on the side, and the wheel arches look a lot more muscular in order to complement the 16-inch alloy wheels – which are available in both silver and black. In our opinion, the latter makes the 10-spoke rims stand out more and give the Mini Cooper S a more purposeful stance. The rear continues to show off the sporty twin-exhaust positioned in the centre.
Now, in the words of the King, Elvis Presley, it’s time for “A little less conversation, and a little more action,” or maybe even, “A little more bite, and a little less bark.” This is what the Mini Cooper S is all about, so I stepped into the cabin and fired up the 1,998cc motor. Mini has replaced the 1.6-litre powerplant with a 2-litre one, which incidentally is lighter. Now, according to Mini, the S does 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds – but till you don’t step on the gas and feel the power gushing out of the four-cylinder turbocharged engine the numbers are just academic.
I couldn’t resist putting the pedal to the floor – after all, the S encourages you to do just that. The 187bhp kicks in from the word go, and if you go for the optional sport gearbox, there’s absolutely no lag at all as the 6-speed gearbox reads your mind and selects the appropriate ratios. In addition to Sport, there are other two driving modes as well – Green and Mid! We won’t really get into these modes too much, as they’re essentially there to put a child lock on the 2-litre engine. And we don’t want that! Perhaps these could come in handy if you’re hemmed in by traffic though.
The suspension is softer than before, but still quite stiff when you encounter dips and bumps. Fortunately, though, the S hasn’t lost an ounce of its charismatic handling DNA. Let’s just say that the slalom course that had been set up at Aamby Valley posed no challenge whatsoever for this incredible chassis. The tyres provide unbelievable grip, as the Mini keeps encouraging the driver to push his or her boundaries rather than the car’s limits. The steering is precise, and the feedback is impressive. It forms an instant connection with the road, and ensures that car does exactly what you want it to do.
The Mini Cooper S now comes with a lot of goodies too, which add a bit of a premium touch to it. The 6.5-inch infotainment system hogs all the attention in the cabin, and it has a touch controller neatly tucked away between the seats. The instrument cluster is now pushed back to its traditional position behind the steering wheel. The Harman Kardon music system provides excellent sound, but I preferred to keep it off as I wanted to hear the true music played by the exhaust of the Mini Cooper S. As the cabin shuts out any outside noise, I had to roll down the window to hear the throaty Jailhouse Rock beat.
As the Mini Cooper S is now a bigger hatch, and not as mini as it used to be, there is a lot more space in the rear. Imagine, a television camera person, with a tripod was neatly tucked into the rear seat. Sure, it was a struggle to get in and out of the car, but that’s a different matter – one that could be solved if Mini brings in the 5-door version of this car. In the front, the seats are very comfortable – even when you’re pushing it in the corners.
The Mini Cooper S is a charming handler and its spunky nature is intact, as it’s always ready to do the tango in corners. The 2-litre petrol heart will never cease to amaze you, as it loves to rev and go for a quick dash. It’ll fill your heart with a lot of pride, and will always bring a smile to your face. Yes, it is expensive – but you get what you pay for!
- Mini Cooper S
Engine: 1,998cc / 4 Cylinder in-line / Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 187bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 280Nm @ 1,250rpm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h – 6.7 seconds
Price: Rs.34.65 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)