Cross-country roadtrips aren’t anything out of the ordinary for us at Autocar India. But doing so in a Mini Cooper is something that definitely does not happen very often. With its compact dimensions and peppy driving manners, the Mini has always been a champion of the urban setting. Its abilities as a long-distance vehicle, though, is something that hasn’t been extensively put to the test. And that’s exactly what we decided to do: take this little hatchback across the length and breadth of the country. Sixteen days, nearly 5500km, across 16 cities and seven states.
The adventure began from Mumbai. The Mini Epic Drive contest winner, Yohaan Daruwala, joined our four-member team from Autocar as we set out on day one of the journey. Mumbai to Pune via the Expressway. We know this stretch like the back of our hands as this is where we do a lot of testing. Yohaan was at the wheel and after we got out of the crawling traffic in the city, he looked visibly excited as we approached the Mumbai-Pune Expressway toll gate. He’d been raring to unleash the 114bhp the Mini’s peppy 1.5-litre three cylinder puts out for some time, and as we hit the open stretches, the revs started rising faster and faster and the traffic in the rear-view mirror started disappearing quicker.
But going fast is only one of the many fun things you can do with this car. With the ghats looming in the horizon, Yohaan knew what lay in store and put pedal to the metal to start on the uphill climb. The new Mini comes with three driving modes – Normal, Economy and Sport. The car’s suspension settings, throttle response and handling change depending on the mode you choose. “Maximum Go Kart-like feel” in Sport mode is what he opted for as we started on the uphill section.
The twisty ghat roads were simply phenomenal in the Mini as it darted from corner to corner, carrying high speeds around the bends and shooting ahead of the sloth-like trucks straining hard to climb. In no time, we were across the Western Ghats and onto the approach road to Pune city.
It was a nice and short introduction to the new Cooper and we were looking forward to the next fortnight we had with the car on this epic drive. Tomorrow, we would head to Goa. Over 450km via the National Highway 4. And it’d finally be time to get our hands on the Mini. The Epic Drive had finally started.