BMW M140i 2018 review
Four doors, five seats, a big boot and a blistering turbocharged engine capable of unleashing outrageous feats of acceleration? BMW's M140i is my kind of family car...
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The phrase 'Special Edition' and 'Mini' have been close bedfellows for almost five decades. Many are stickers and specs packs and the newly-released Millbrook is certainly that.
Thing is, it's on top of a seriously capable machine, the Mini John Cooper Works (or JCW). It's also a nice way to celebrate 60 years of Mini, as the company did with the JCW World Championship 50 in 2009.
Minis aren't cheap and are sometimes difficult to justify because of that. The Millbrook, though, has a couple of little things you won't see elsewhere, like the minty-fresh 'Ice Blue' paint and a pair of rally-style spotties in the grille.
The JCW is a cracker of a car to start with, but the Millbrook adds a substantial $4875 to the already stiff cost of the auto. Could it possibly be worth it?
Let's clear up the pricing straight away. An auto JCW clocks up $52,850 before you tick any further boxes, the manual $49,900. The auto-only Millbrook winds up at $57,275, before on-road costs.
For a bit of perspective, that's not far off a turbo six-cylinder BMW M140i. Just 20 of the Millbrooks will be available in Australia.
You do get 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in a lovely set of Pirelli P-Zero run-flat tyres, a six-speaker stereo, sat nav, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, adaptive dampers, cruise control, auto LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, wireless phone charging, auto wipers, head-up display, leather trim, auto parking and a two-piece sunroof. As the car has run-flats, there is just a repair kit under the boot.
The car comes with the aforementioned Icy Blue paint that Mini says is heritage and exclusive to the Millbrook, a set of rally spotlights with Mini-branded covers, various blacked out bits, the sunroof and some stickers that come off with surprising ease.
Set in the middle of the big central console's circular interface is a 10.0-inch widescreen running a Minified version of BMW's iDrive software. It's very good and in the Millbrook comes with Apple CarPlay and DAB.
Ah, yes, the bit that upsets most people. I think this new Mini looks just as good as any other. After an initial period of thinking the Union Jack taillights were a bit naff, I've come around to them and have decided I quite like them. They're a bit of cheeky fun.
The Millbrook's blue paint is quite fetching although some complained it was a bit toothpaste-ey. I like the stripes, I like the black roof, I like the spotties, I think it's odd the left-hand one covers the John Cooper Works badge and I really like the blacked out headlight surrounds and grille. They're cool.
The cabin is based on the Lounge spec available in other Minis, meaning lots of leather on the seats. It looks pretty good, as it happens, although it's a bit dark. There are yet more Union Jacks and a lot of glossy black plastic, which there could be less of.
There could also be less of marketing folks not spending enough money on the Millbrook stickers. The one on the dash came off when I looked at it, which is a bit miserly. Spend the money or don't do it at all.
For its size, the Mini is predictably tight. Front seat occupants are perfectly fine although if both are a bit on the broad side, you will literally rub shoulders. You'll also bang your elbows on the narrow armrest which contains the wireless charging pad that won't fit larger phones.
Yeah. That's annoying. The glove box is predictably small but useful enough and the doors have slim pockets.
There are - somehow - five cupholders scattered through the car. Two in the front seats, one at the trailing end of the centre console and each at the edges of rear seats. Ahead of the front cupholders is a tray and the two USB ports and a 12-volt port.
The boot is small, yes, but also has a false floor where a spare might instead fit. There's enough room in there for a laptop bag or backpack. Boot space starts at 211 litres (more than a Mazda2, incidentally) and maxes out at 731.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo is unchanged from the JCW, developing 170kW/320Nm. An eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission sends the power to the front wheels and features launch control.
Mini reckons you'll crack 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 246km/h.
Fuel-saving measures include regenerative braking and stop-start.
The JCW's official combined cycle figure is 6.0L/100km. I doubt anyone who buys a JCW has any intention whatsoever chasing that figure. So I didn't bother either, managing 9.1L/100km in a week of fun driving.
The JCW ships with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Mini warranty is still stuck in the past, with a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assist for the same period. Five years would be really nice.
There are no service intervals per se - as the Mini is BMW, you service it when the car tells you it needs it.
You can get coverage via the 'Service Inclusive' program which covers five years/80,000km. Basic is $1425 while for $3795 Mini will throw in pads and discs, wiper blades and spark plugs if required.
Minis are so much fun. I've driven a bunch of them over the years and I am never, ever disappointed. I drove the Cooper S recently and found that something had changed - it was a bit more civilised, a bit more amenable to the daily drive.
My wife, who has never liked Minis because she finds them bouncy, said that the Cooper S was a Mini she could own. Big call, she's a hard marker. I was a bit worried by this, because I love the way a Mini bounces around.
All good. The JCW bounces in that happy fun way Minis always have. The adaptive damping manages to make the ride a bit smoother in the suburbs while giving you a tremendous platform for when you want to crack on.
The JCW rolls on 17-inch alloys with stiff sidewalled Pirelli P-Zero run-flats that deliver a ton of grip.
The 2.0-litre engine is one you'll find scattered across the Mini and BMW ranges and is an absolute belter. Smooth and rev-happy, the turbo has little lag and the power delivery is eye-opening when you sink the slipper.
An auto JCW really is about point and shoot driving, with a popping exhaust announcing your arrival well ahead of time. It has a wonderful, sharp front end, but it's not intimidating. I'd like a tiny bit less weight in the steering when I'm in sport mode, but I am absolutely quibbling here.
Like any special edition, the Millbrook maintains the greatness (or otherwise) of the car to which the extra goodies have been applied. I'm not entirely sure the extra five grand is super well-spent because I don't like things like sunroofs but you will certainly have something individual.
I like the Millbrook because it's a JCW with its own visual personality. The stripes, the spots and the blacked-out bits make the car stand out from the rest of the JCW crowd.
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