Cars, tech, games… You name it, I’ll probably love it.
The Mini Cooper is something of a British hero in the automotive world. The original Morris Mini-Minor was made popular with its radical design of the late 50’s. It helped popularise the transverse engine layout as well as the small city car.
Since BMW’s take over back in 2000, the car-maker has re-revolutionised the small car. And I don’t just throw that around, I’ve driven 2 different generations of the recent Mini Cooper – both have been so well-refined. So, credit where it’s due, here’s my review of the all-new 3rd generation Mini Cooper.
Mini has always followed its basic design principles since the original Mini way back in 1959. There’s been a comfortable evolution over the last 3 generations that have fortunately stuck to those same principles. It’s a car that feels at home within the city, keeping up with a rapidly changing environment.
The charismatic headlights boast more of a “fish-eye” look that seems to have been lifted a little more since its predecessor. As well as that, the tail lights also seem to have had a facelift and we’re now treated to an enlarged set of rear lights.
The exterior is what we’re already used to seeing and has an almost untouched silhouette when comparing to previous models. If anything, it does appear to be slightly wider and has widened the plastic trim ever so slightly to give it more contrast.
A More Premium Feel
A car’s cockpit is where the magic happens, it’s where you’ll spend a large majority of your time. The new Cooper is certainly the most premium feeling Mini since the new generations were announced. There’s plenty to love from the leather steering wheel, the reworked infotainment system and of course the quality of the materials used.
I adore the toggles and switches around the centre console and, of course, the overhead switches. It seems to feel a lot more ‘jet fighter’ than it does ‘small runabout car’. There’s even a big red ‘start engine’ button, which of course, is enough to impress anyone’s inner child.
The steering wheel has undergone improvements, it feels way more sleek. There’s a more sporty feel to the wheel and is extremely comfortable to grip. The media buttons also have a really ergonomic feel to them.
Mini’s new infotainment screen has also undergone a huge revamp. Gone are the days of cheap plastic materials; Mini have now taken hints from BMW and have really gone all out with the input methods. The screen itself feels a lot more vibrant and playful and has plenty of fun gadgets for all the geeks out there. It genuinely feels right at home with the new Mini, and it certainly feels like it’s something that should have been there from the start.
Go Kart From The Start
The 1.5 litre inline-three cylinder produces a modest 114bhp to the front wheels. This is more than enough for the pokey Mini. With a curb weight of 1205kg, this machine will honestly take you by surprise. For extra impact, Mini have included a sport mode… Because everyone needs to go a little faster. Right?
But don’t be fooled by the diesel engine, it’s nowhere near as loud as you’d expect. In fact, it’s by far the quietest diesel car I’ve ever driven. That would partially be down to BMW’s engineering – it’s so refined and so perfected.
The gear transitions are so smooth. Mini has always made changing gears in the Cooper a breeze, no roughness, just a smooth short throw into the next gear. Again, adding to that sporty feel.
As I mentioned earlier, the addition of sport mode really adds more to the Cooper. A tap of the accelerator in sport can be felt straight away – it’s surprising, especially from such a modest car. Of course, you’re not going to find yourself out-accelerating sport cars in a drag race. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun for short bursts around country roads.
But, where there’s a sport mode, there also has to be an eco mode. Which, to be honest you’ll probably want to spend most of your time in this mode on long commutes. And this is a good thing, the Mini Cooper can easily top well over 70mpg as long as you’re keeping an eye on your right foot. Realistically, though, you’re more likely to be getting around the high 50’s/low 60’s in terms of highway economy.
Get impractical out of your head… Yes, the Mini is small and certainly does not compete with larger cars. But, that’s the thing, it is a small car – a supermini to be specific. You’re not buying a Mini Cooper to take your family on a road trip to the coast of France. And you certainly won’t be towing a great deal with this car either. But, as a small town runabout car it works perfectly fine.
The boot space is enough for your shopping run and you could quite easily fit a suitcase snug in the back for your travels. Just remember, you’re not getting as much space as an Insignia. This 5 door model is also quite handy if you have children, especially with the ISOFIX mounting points on the rear seats. That being said, you will have a bit of trouble getting the seats in with a lack of space when the rear doors are open.
There’s also a handy hidden boot floor, which is fine for a little bit of added storage – but don’t think too much of it, it’s hardly much of a significant improvement.
The Mini Cooper is certainly a fun car and there’s a lot to love about it. It’s really impressive to see how far the Cooper has come since its last generation and there seems to have been improvements on all levels.
By all means, it’s a fun car. Quick & nimble are perfect words to describe your driving experience with the Mini Cooper D. I will confess, if you’re a larger person, or have a family that’ll regularly use the vehicle, you might want to look elsewhere. Fortunately, Mini have you covered with their larger cars like the Clubman or the Countryman.
If you’re a first time driver, or simply just looking for a fun car, there’s a good chance this is for you. But, you might be a bit more suited towards the 3 door variant.
As for alternatives, the Cooper is definitely top of its class. Comparing to the likes of the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1, the Mini definitely has the upper hand. More features, and plenty more fun. It’s easily my favourite small car.