Mini Cooper ‘S’ 5-Door Test Drive

Cars

Published on August 6th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Mini Cooper ‘S’ 5-Door Test Drive

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The 1st modern Mini from its new parent, BMW arrived with huge fanfare and we remember clearly our first impression of this car which was in sunny Spain. It had great looks which was a first rate design language that evolved from the classic Mini. The engine was a 1.6L with a traditional engine ‘whine’ which the classic Mini had. It sold really well and was followed by a 2nd generation that ‘cleaned’ out all the quirks of the 1st generation modern Mini. Build quality was however forgotten with the continued usage of hard plastics. The 3rd generation worked on getting the Mini in as many variants as possible to plug all possible segments. This was a good effort and an all new engine and gearbox was introduced. Missing in the 3rd generation Mini was the ‘engine whine’ and instead there were lower emissions and better consumption.

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Mini Grows Up

Now comes a 4th generation Mini with a brand new range of BMW derived engines, a new 6-speed gearbox, revised interior and a smoothen out exterior. The exterior of the new MINI remains recognisable with its rising high waistline, narrow front windscreen and lift-up rear tailgate with spoiler, however there are 2 extra doors on the side now. The bonnet appears longer and is certainly chunkier with a large grille flanked by distinctive large round headlights with under-bumper air vents plus fogs.

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The body of the muscular new MINI has a wheelbase that expands by 72 millimetres and the body lengthened by 161 millimetres when compared to the MINI 3-door. This 4-door model provides more freedom in terms of interior use. In the back are two separate seats, and passengers using them benefit from increased headroom of 15 millimetres and interior width increased of 61 millimetres at elbow height. In addition, the luggage compartment space is 67 litres larger than in the new MINI 3-door, with a total of 278 litres. The car’s high level of versatility is also supported by the 60:40 folding split in the rear backrest. It enables the luggage compartment volume to be increased to 941 litres.

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This new MINI also comes with a revised suspension system: struts at the front; multi-link at the rear. The components are lighter but torsionally stiffer to retain the legendary ‘go-kart’ handling. To bring more refinement to the MINI, work has also been done to eliminate vibrations entering the car through the suspension system with the necessary chassis development being carried out on European roads (this is evidently not adequate as they should have done the testing on Petaling Jaya roads where we regularly do testing for 4×4 and off-road vehicles).

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There are circular LED ‘signature’ daytime running lights and LED lighting stacks at the tail. The bolder overall appearance is set off by 18-inch alloys which are standard for the Cooper S but we feel that 17-inch wheels would have been more welcomed.

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Mini Roominess

Inside, the evolution of MINI continues; it’s much plusher, like a smaller version of a higher specified BMW (more like a 3-Series). There is a little more interior space at the rear however it is still cramped for legroom for tall adults which means it is still not the place for full sized tall adults (if you do not breach 5-foot 6-inches, then you will be quite happy at the rear. The trademark large round dial in the centre of the dashboard (which previously housed the speedometer), is now used for the navigation, entertainment and communication systems; the speedometer has been relocated to a conventional position above the steering column.

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The power window switches have also been moved to a more logical position on the doors. However, there are still too many small switches and controls spread around the dashboard, centre console and the roof panel between the sun visors and it all looks very ‘busy’. Just like a BMW, there’s an I-control unit and buttons positioned between the front seats and this controls the various onboard information systems.

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Mini Cooper S Power

The new 4-cylinder Twin Turbo BMW borrowed engine is much quieter and more refined at ignition. There is not even a hint of aggression as we rev the engine. The new gearbox works well with this engine to deliver good fuel economy in a city traffic cycle, but when the open road calls you need to switch it to ‘sports’ mode to get a smoother gear change experience in full auto mode.

Goodyear f1 650x85(DSF)

The 4-cylinder engine is eager but it seems less buttery smooth in its changes when driven in aggression in full auto mode. Only in sports mode will the changes seem ‘easy and slick’. Still, the gearbox is certainly more flexible at low speeds and really responsive mid-range. It will accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds and it tops out at 230km/h easily. The Mini has always been renowned for its go-kart handing and now this all new 4th generation Mini does not disappoint like before; the steering is still sharp enough to make it feel sporty and you still get great handling and power on demand that excites. The added weight in this new model is felt at hard acceleration with less engine note to excite the senses.

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The sacrifice of edgy excitement from this new Mini is a more refined BMW 3-series like ride with less jarring and less jumping over road bumps and ruts.

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Mini Decision To Own

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It feels more sophisticated on the road, refinement, comfort and quality all improving, while the drivetrain and chassis retain and build on the driver appeal that’s always been core to the MINI. Add better economy and emissions, more equipment and luxury options and the MINI purchase decision is more possible for the foreseeable future. It is good enough to make the BMW 1-Series look relatively redundant and have 1st generation Mini owners looking for an upgrade.

MINI Cooper S 5-Door Specifications

Engine: Petrol DOHC Turbo 16v

Power: 192bhp @ 4700-6000rpm

Torque: 280Nm @ 1250rpm

Capacity: 1998cc

Transmission: 6-speed with manual steering shifts

0-100km/h: 6.8secs

Top speed: 230km/h

Price: RM236,888.00

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Goodyear eagle 650x85(DSF)


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