Yes, yes, yes, oh yes: looks, heritage, superb drive, build quality.
Oh dear me, no: expensive, long list of options.
I must declare that I am a Mini tragic.
Impossibly cute, unbearably perky and deceivingly quick, the Mini five-door plugs a gap in the Cooper range.
There is a wheel in each corner and a perky little engine up front, and there is even a diesel to make the range more economical. The stop/start is a cunning plan to make the BMW group lower carbon emission across all of its brands. Thankfully, you can turn that devil’s work off, even if you have to do it every time you turn the key.
Outside, the new mini looks like both previous generations. Why? That’s easy: it is the shape of a Mini. A car of another shape but the same size would never ever be a Mini. It would wipe away nearly 50 years of reputation and misty-eyed reminiscences in a single swish.
There isn’t a world of difference over the previous generation and from the front pillars forward, the five-door and three-door are the same.
There are a few new colours but the electric blue Cooper S is still my pick.
After a bacon and egg brekky we headed for them-there hills. Once in the hills, the Cooper S came to life. In sport mode, the engine/chassis combo was a delight and no matter how tight the bend, the Mini felt like it wanted to give more. That isn’t something you can find in a lot of cars, especially those with five doors. There is some fancy tech going on under the bonnet to make sure you look a much better driver than you actually are. Sadly, much of it was an optional extra.
I’ve no doubt the 6.0L/100km (manual transmission) would require a more delicate touch to achieve, but most of us would rather enjoy the full driving experience by keeping the auto in Sports Mode. She just loves being thrown about, even on the roughest of roads. With three on board, there were a couple of loud thumps around town but that’s to be expected. With only two big blokes aboard, the Cooper was more like big cat than a kitten. It devoured the tight corners far more capably than a little city car had any right to.
I’m pleased to report the Cooper S passes our comprehensive “two bags test” with much aplomb. A couple could easily indulge in a naughty weekend away. However, you could have a less naughty weekend by shoving a couple of chaps in the back seat and packing fewer changes of clothes, not an easy thing for gay boys to do, I know.
Mini has done a lot to give the cabin some razzle dazzle, but again, much that dazzle was optional. The fancy door lighting? Optional. The heads up display ($700), the sic-speed auto ($2650), the driver assistance package ($1350), dynamic damper control ($700), and the reversing camera ($470) were all optional. The total for the extras was an eye-watering $10,420. With on-roads, the $38,050 Cooper S quickly breaks the $50,000 sound barrier. For that many shekels you can have a Golf GTi, Holden Calais or the top-of-the-line Volvo V40. Although the Mini is far prettier than the Golf, no one can deny the Golf is still the reigning Hot Hatch Queen.
The infotainment system was another surprise. It has brilliant sound, but Bluetooth streaming, standard on a humble $16,000 Hyundai, is optional on most Mini models. That is a bit grim.
The safety gear on-board is impressive. Apart from the standard equipment including six airabgs, Mini has a pop-up bonnet. Should you be unfortunate enough to scoop up an unsuspecting pedestrian, the Mini fires some pyrotechnic charges to instantly raise the bonnet making contact with the engine block less likely. A dented bonnet is preferable to a dented head.
The Mini five-door gets top marks. Take it by the scruff of the neck and you’re rewarded with boundless energy and fun, even in the base model. However, since I make your nan look fast, I’m happy with dawdling around country lanes breathing in the scenery, whatever form that takes. Mini Cooper is a sports car, and that’s that.
Would I buy one? What a stupid question, for I am a Mini Tragic.
Mini Cooper from $27,750; Cooper D from $32,900 and Cooper S from $38,050.