Mini Cooper S Classic Auto road test report and review: DAVID HOOPER has a look at the latest take on a British classic.
YOU’VE gotta love a Mini – especially when it comes with an air intake moulded into the bonnet, a turbo charger and a Cooper S badge on its shiny grille.
This week’s test car certainly didn’t disappoint in the smiles per miles stakes, with a rorty exhaust note, engagingly lively performance, a responsive chassis and the Mini’s famed kart-like ride and handling characteristics.
BMW’s take on the British classic has now morphed into a brand with an array of models, some of which look as similar to the original Mini as a 747 Jumbo jet does to the Wright Brothers first aeroplane, but the three-door Cooper can still readily relate to Issigonis’s original masterpiece of car design.
The modern incarnation is bigger, faster and safer, and a delight to own, with a lively driving experience which encourages you to explore the car’s potential.
Even the automatic gearbox in our test car, with its flappy paddles behind the steering wheel, proved itself to be a worthy addition, despite my initial reservations about an automatic box in what is essentially a sports car.
I took our Mini to the Lake District, where cruising around the Lakes, taking in the views, and queueing through the Bank Holiday traffic jams on the A595, the auto box was an absolute delight, shifting smoothly and managing to pick the most suitable of its seven speeds most of the time.
When the roads cleared and there was an opportunity to unleash its performance every now and again, the gearbox reacted well, and with a bit of manual intervention by pushing the selector to the left, the car stays in manual mode allowed the driver to determine when the next gear is selected.
It also provided a bit of popping and banging from the twin exhaust on the over-run as well, which never fails to put a broad smile on the face of this petrolhead!
The go-kart-like feel of the car is also still there, the ride can be a bit harsh on poorly surfaced roads, but thankfully the seats are comfortable and the overall driving experience is one to relish. There are three basic driving modes, Minimalism, Normal and Sport, the latter doing a good job in sharpening up the car’s responses.
The modern Mini is packed with features you would expect to find in more expensive cars, like the phone charger built into the arm rest which you just sit your phone on to charge it while you drive.
Minis can be customised to each customer’s preference with an assortment of packs and optional extras, so each owner can make their car individual to them. Options on our car included Apple CarPlay preparation, the navigation system, park distance control, auto air conditioning and lots more.
I still love the toggle switches, which operate m
any of the car’s features, and although I never quite understood what it was doing, I loved the way the ambient LED lights cycled through their palette of colours, seemingly when they felt like it, although I’m sure I must have pressed something!
Luggage space remains at a premium, especially when you need to take everything but the kitchen sink with you for a walking weekend in a British early summer, so I put the back seats down which provided ample room for bags, ruck sacks, walking boots and the like.
During my 600-plus mile test, our Cooper S returned an average of 38.9mpg, which isn’t bad when you appreciate that I “enjoyed” the car at times, but is probably a fair reflection of the sort of economy you could expect.
The Mini Cooper S is still one of the most engaging cars you can buy today – if you haven’t driven one yet, perhaps it’s time you did!
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Mini Cooper S Classic Auto
ENGINE: 1998cc, 192PS four-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through 7-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 146mph. 0-62mph in 6.7 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 42.2mpg.
Wheel World test average: 38.5mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 124g/km.
FUEL TANK: 44 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 28
WARRANTY: 3 years/100,000 miles
• All data correct at time of publication.