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Wednesday - 30 September 2020

Kart before the Horse – Mini Cooper S hatch review

Mini Cooper S hatch review New Zealand

The new Mini Cooper S boasts more speed, safety and connectivity but does this mean it’s not as much fun to drive? I took to the wheel of an attention-getting Solaris Orange model complete with cool black go-faster bonnet decals to find out.

Mini Cooper S Hatch Review New Zealand

First and foremost, power in a straight line is all well and good, let’s agree on that. Seriously, watching the animalistic rawness of drag races and burnouts will never get old in my book BUT, to really experience driving, curves, bends and twisties need to be added and this is something the Mini has always been about. Yes, the new models have grown in overall size and legislation has meant that they have put on some ‘safety weight’ but still, the Mini’s low ride height, sturdy chassis and tight suspension all combine to make this compact car as nimble as possible.

The new Cooper S comes with a 2L turbo powered 4 cylinder engine that lies beneath the bonnet offers up 141kW and 280Nm, which (since the car weighs under 1,200kg) is more than ample.  

Mini Cooper S Hatch Review New Zealand

But as I stated at the outset, it’s not all about the straight line power. The Mini’s renowned and impressively tight handling is amplified further with the introduction of the 7-speed double -clutch Steptronic transmission. I could bore you with the mechanics of this system (but I’d have to look it up) however, in essence, it provides incredibly quick and precise gear selection without any torque interruption. The result is foot-down gear changing that provides a highly-engaging rasp out of the tailpipes and (possibly more importantly) power out of each and every corner. On top of this, the Cooper S hatch offers a reported 6L/100km combined fuel efficiency (although since I remained in high revs I, unfortunately, didn’t manage to achieve) and along with the rasp, emits only 138g/km of CO2’s from the sporty twin centre tailpipes.

Mini Cooper S Hatch Review New Zealand

With regards to the rest of the kart, my chariot came with all manner of spiffing extras. The panorama glass sunroof flooded the cabin with light, bringing the carbon black double stripe furniture to life. The sports, leather wheel felt grippy to the touch which was just as well with the number of corners I played with. The big round 8.8” central infotainment screen was easy to navigate around and the switches that control things like start/stop and drive modes are really unique.

Mini Cooper S Hatch Review New Zealand

The Cooper S sat on tidy 17-inch Cosmos spoke alloys with run-flat tyres which did increase the road noise a little but easily drowned out with my gleeful and excited sounds during the drive. Of course, I was particularly drawn to the Union Jack taillight design, it’s awesome, while LED’s lit the way forward.

Mini Cooper S Hatch Review New Zealand

For those in the rear, getting in and out of this compact vehicle is a bit of a chore but this isn’t a family wagon poster child, mind you, once inside there is enough room to make sardines happy. And happiness is what this Mini still has in spades. We explored many of the ribbons of tarmac that cover the Rodney area and found one road in particular that due to repeatedly frequent visits, may hold a fair amount of the Cooper S hatch’s tyre rubber.

Mini Cooper S Hatch Review New Zealand

The new Mini Cooper S, with its 2L turbo-powered engine, certainly packs a lot of punch on the road and a lovely not when changing up. But for me, it’s the swifter, more precise gear shifting from the dual-clutch box and the small hatchback’s iconic ‘kartlike’ handling combination that truly prevails. It allows you to attack corners confidently and change direction at the mere twitch of the wheel a sensation that pleased me no end. So I guess you could say, that when it comes to the new Mini Cooper S Hatch, I put the Kart before the horses.

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