The Mini Coupe stands out against a very modern backdrop.
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Mini Cooper S 1.6 Coupe with specs, fuel economy and verdict
The Mini Cooper S Coupe is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine delivering 135 kW of power (the JCW engine weighs in with 20 kW more) and 240Nm of torque mated with a six-speed manual gearbox. Acceleration is 0-100km/h in 7.0 seconds. While fuel economy comes in at 6.3l/100km. There’s also a Mini John Cooper Works Pack to add even more oomph to performance.
Standard equipment in this stunning looking little Mini Coupe is generous, with bi-xenon headlights, speed-sensitive power steering, electric exterior mirrors, parking audio alarm, height-adjustable seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands-free function with USB audio interface and an audio system with MP3-compatible CD player and AUX connection.
Optional equipment includes black headlight housing, adaptive headlamp system, automatic dimming rear-view mirror and exterior mirrors. Buyers can also choose from equipment such as a 10-speaker Harman Kardon hi-fi, the Mini Visual Boost radio or Mini navigation system.
To waist height the stunning new Mini Coupe looks much like any other Mini. After that it’s obvious that all hell broke loose in the styling studio. Just look at the steep slope of the windscreen, the distinctive rear glass treatment and a sharply curved roof in a contrasting colour.
The very different roof of the Mini Coupe has already gained the nicknames of ‘helmet top’ and ‘helmet head’ and is a talking point wherever you drive it.
If you don’t like the very different roof of the new Mini Coupe, but do find favour with the rest of the car, then the Mini people can sell you an open Roadster version instead. Indeed this was our vehicle of choice when we made the booking, but the Mini PR gang decided we wouldn't like to test a topless car in winter.
The curve of the roof finishes with a spoiler on the leading edge of the tailgate. There’s another spoiler, this time an active one that pops up when the Mini Coupe reaches 80 km/h. At maximum speed of around 224 km/h this spoiler applies extra downforce of 40 kg for safer high-speed stability. Total weight of the Mini Coupe is slightly skewed to the front, providing maximum traction through the front-wheel drive.
Inside the cabin it’s ‘Mini Central’ with all the usual suspects - quirky controls and switches, and an oversize speedo dominating the central dashboard, a tradition harking back to the original Mini of the 1960s. There is a digital speedo incorporated in the tachometer and information display dead ahead of the driver behind the steering wheel. A neat touch is the inclusion of oval recesses in the roof liner creating extra headroom.
As there are no back seats the Mini Coupe can carry a swag of cargo, 280 litres to be exact. It’s a handy shape so bulky sports gear and the like can it with ease. A unique two-piece cover keeps contents from prying eyes.
The high-opening tailgate on the Mini we reviewed was heavy and hard to open, possibly a problem with the adjustment of the struts, but check for yourself when you do your personal road test. Short folks may find it hard to reach up and shut. Again, your call.
High body rigidity for optimum protection of occupants and pedestrians was of primary concern. Passenger safety extends to the cabin interior with front and head-thorax airbags, the latter integrated into the sides of the seat backrests. Naturally there are three-point inertia-reel seat belts including belt force limiters and belt tensioners.
The test vehicle was fitted with an optional six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission ($2350) which added a new dimension to the sporting nature of the Coupe. Gears were selected manually using the shift lever, or steering wheel-mounted paddles. The paddles weren’t as easy to use as in most others, but if it was our money we would go for the manual any day.
Having said that, the auto produced a relaxed drive, even in stressful heavy traffic.
In the automatic Mini JCW we tested fuel consumption was in the five to six litres per hundred kilometres range on the open road, but fanging the car around our interesting mountain route saw it leap to the nine to ten litre range.
Much has been done to match engine performance with handling qualities. Agility of the sort found in a go-kart, was the catchword. There was no denying steering and stability were of the highest order for a car of this segment.
The ride which was harsh and skittish on at times on uneven surfaces, to the extent it could upset some passengers. On smooth blacktop the minor discomforts were soon forgotten in the sheer joy of driving the new exotic Mini.
Mini Cooper S Coupe
Price: from $40,700
Safety rating: 5-star ANCAP
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Body: 3729mm (L); 1683mm (W); 1407mm (H)