What is it?
This is the sportier version of the already sporty standard car. The new Mini Cooper was launched in India last year in diesel guise but it’s the petrol S version we were waiting for and we have finally gotten our hands on it. Initially, only the three-door version will be available.
Based on the new UKL platform, the new Mini Cooper S is 98mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller than the old car. The overall looks and stance of this car is unmistakably Mini. The large frowning grille, bug-eyed headlights and minimalist tail design is all typical Cooper, but now, with the larger dimensions, it looks more mature. Like the old car, the wheels are pushed to the new one’s extremities, leaving minimal overhangs. Also, the squat stance and low roof make the Cooper S look taut and racy even when standing still. But how will the neighbours know you bought the sportier Mini? It gets a different honeycomb grille with the S badge and the large sporty air intakes. At the rear, the large twin exhausts point to the extra horses under the hood.
On the inside, the changes are more ergonomics-related. The most noticeable is that the central speedo is gone. The new car has a more conventional speedo in front of the steering, with a rev counter and fuel gauge on either side. This is a significant improvement as they’re closer to your eyeline. Electric window switches and door lock toggles are now on the doorpad rather than low on the centre stack. The S version of the car gets additions like the black chequered finish on the dash and the chunky leather steering wheel. The front seats on this Cooper S are just fabulous. They are very supportive for sporty driving and at the same time, extremely comfortable on long runs. As before, the backseats are small and even the boot, while larger than earlier, still won’t swallow too much luggage.
The biggest change is under the bonnet. At present, with the downsizing of engines for better efficiency becoming the trend, the larger 2.0-litre petrol motor comes as a pleasant surprise. Displacing 1998cc, this twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine is 400cc bigger than the unit it replaces, and it is 7kg lighter than the old powerplant.
What’s it like to drive?
The 2.0-litre four pot motor makes a healthy 189bhp and 28.8kgm of torque from a low 1250rpm. This big-bore motor loves to be spun hard and it’s torquey too, thanks to direct injection and turbocharging. So, while there is a tiny bit of lag, this motor has a strong mid-range and an extremely strong top-end. And the faster you spin it, the harder it wants to go. According to company claims, a sizzling hot 6.7 seconds is all you need to get to 100kph and this hatch will reach a top speed of 230kph. We had the optional sport gearbox on our car and in Sport mode, the gearshifts are almost instantaneous, without any interruption in power. The performance is so addictive, the Cooper S just sucks you into the driving experience.
But the biggest turn-on when driving the Mini is the way it handles. As we were driving on a runway, the slalom course was the only way to judge the new Cooper S. At first impression, the car feels less pointy than the old car but instead, feels more planted and still energetic enough to change direction. Grip and balance are both strong, traction feels better than the old car. But these are only brief impressions and we can give a definite answer only once we drive it on the road. The same goes for the ride too as the runway surface was velvet smooth.
Should I buy one?
Priced at Rs 34.65 lakh, the Cooper S is just Rs 2 lakh more expensive than the diesel version. For this, you will get a car that is much more fun to drive and according to us, the one to go for. If you want to buy this car just to make a style statement, the diesel is the car to choose. But if there’s even a little bit of auto enthusiast in you, the Cooper S is the one for you.