MINI Cooper S & Convertible : Road Test
It might have arrived a little late but it's finally here. It's called cute, sweet, beautiful, a giant slayer and then some. ZigWheels tells you what it feels like to "Be Mini"
Customization is the name of the game
All Coopers comes well equipped, but the options list is chalk full of countless luxury and customization features. The cabin is endearing to look at, but it can be a head scratcher to use. The plate-sized center-mounted speedometer honors the Mini’s past, but from a functional standpoint it’s a bit silly. Meanwhile, the climate controls are awkward to use and the stereo controls aren’t much better. The phrase form over function is quite apt when describing the MINI Cooper’s interior. Quality however is top notch and everything feels brilliant to touch. To change the ambience you also have mood lighting that can be changed in areas such as the elliptical door rings. There is also a more stylish version of BMW’s iDrive system which is controlled by a little joystick which may seem fiddly at first, but one gets used to it with time.
But as far as space was concerned the MINI is packaged quite nicely. In fact four of us easily managed to climb in and have a pleasant drive with the biggest and widest (that would be me and PD) sitting comfortably at the back. While the Cooper S can feel a little claustrophobic at the back, the Convertible especially with its top down is absolute bliss.
Sedate motoring or Turbocharged ecstasy
The moment you get into the convertible, it really gets your mood going. Turn on the music, just shift the stick into ‘D’ and you’re ready to roll. Chilling under the hood is a 1.6 litre 4-cylinder engine which pushes out a healthy 122 PS @ 6000 rpm and a maximum twist of 160 Nm at 4250 rpm which is transferred to the front wheels via a 6-speed auto box. The engine feels nice and refined as you putter around in traffic, but shift into Steptronic and floor that pedal, the soothing note starts turning raspy. The revs start rising but not as rapidly as one would want or expect. The fly in the ointment here is the gearbox. The torque converter is pretty lazy and shifts are pretty slow. Shifting gears in the Steptronic mode does improve things but only just. We couldn’t get our Drift box to record the Convertibles performance times thanks to a faulty cigarette lighter but the company claims a 0-100 km/h time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 191 km/h.
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