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2016 Mini Cooper S Review, John Cooper Works Edition, Road Test

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2016 Mini Cooper S looks, drive and performs like a barely road legal car and yet you can use the car to run your chores or go do a track day!

Enchanting –

  • One of a kind aesthetics and exhaust note
  • Superlative chassis, brakes, engine
  • Efficient despite very powerful petrol engine
  • Doodle to park and maneuver

Unsatisfying –

  • Priced higher
  • Missing features

It’s the year 2016. A time when everything has substitute when you compare it to the the 1990’s. Large landlines are replaced with ‘Small Smart phones’. Information now comes from internet and not distinct smelling libraries. The world is more versatile, more approachable, open to modern idea that come from people called ‘millennials’. Everything pretty much changed in the last 20-25 years dramatically. That’s what they call evolution i guess.

Something’s though, never change. The heritage, the brands, the icons and the immortal and ever green personalities. Is there anything that has everything that we mentioned now? Yes, there is and it is called the Mini. The moment you utter that small word, a small car comes to your mind driven by a comedian all over Britain as he creates adventures and smiles. The car is capable too and let’s not forget the person itself. Mini in today’s term is ‘cute’ ‘fashion statement’ out of the box and many more names attached to itself.

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Years have gone by, the Mini, it changed, but its has a wow factor, a stance that still makes people smile, road presence that grab attentions like no other. However, today’s world is also massively practical it needs everything right from styling to mileage, performance and comfort. BMW says the Mini has changed and for the good yet retaining the charm and most probably the driving fun. We find out as we put it through all kinds of hurdles to give you a road test that answers your questions.

Styling

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Two Police officers from their SUV looked down and were caught saying “Swift jaisa dikhta hai”. Meanwhile, the fairer sex couldn’t stop calling it “Cool, cute and funky”. Informed fairer sex were witnessed screaming “Look! A coupe”. We don’t need to explain the styling anymore after telling you all of this, but we have too. What we particularly like are the new headlights that the Mini has. Much bigger, well mounted and the way LED are crafted on the inside is a big way where you can determine that this is all new third-generation Mini.

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The grille is prominent then ever before and the large bumpers in our Cooper S really gives it a mean look and yet it looks, very Mini indeed. Our three door version is compact on paper. However, it isn’t on the road. The Mini Cooper has some serious stance and presence on the road. The pillar-less doors, the subtle chrome, the black roof, chunk door mounted wing mirrors, and alloy along with the volcanic orange test car look just right for the job and badge it carries. The traditional wheel cladding and twin exhaust at the back right bang in the middle is some serious piece of kit that it shows which in-turn hides something until you start driving it.

Interiors

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Get inside and theme from the outside continues in the inside. There is a well contoured chunk steering wheel to hold which even looks good with red stitching. John Cooper Works badge on the steering wheel showcases what it actually is. The infamous large dial in between showcases everything that you need to know.

If you have been in a BMW before, everything will fall into hand exactly as you want it too. The iDrive controller can be seen below and it has all buttons for you to navigate through media, navigation, radio and a menu button to access more features on the screen. BMW’s Power and Torque dial can be seen here, you can adjust the ambient lighting through a switch on the roof beside the roof mounted lights. The roof has the sunroof button is also located on the roof with other switches.

Every switch needless to say it aircraft inspired toggle switches which feel ‘cool’ to operate. Those buttons below the A/C knobs control the HUD display, traction control and start-stop button along with main ignition button.Steering mounted audio and phone controls can be accessed. You have the speed limiter and cruise control button also to access as well. You can also controls track and radio stations which are located below the large dial.

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Feature list includes all the connectivity options, dual zone automatic climate control and other features. What shockingly missing is the auto chromatic internal view mirror as it a manual unit. ORVM’s though are auto chromatic. What has also been given a miss are power seats on both driver and passenger side. What you get in return are LED fog lights and sports seats for the Cooper S version which is need of the day. Reversing camera is given a miss and is an optional extra at Rs. 58,000

The gear lever is tall enough and below that lever there is a switch which goes ‘sideways’, which allows you to switch between sports, mid and eco mode. Sound system is good as always with premium cars, but it doesn’t give you all the power that it has once you connect it with the Bluetooth system. The radio and aux most likely give you what you really want.

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We cannot talk about space here since it is a coupe with three door. Surprisingly, there is space at the back for one adult and one child for short to medium journeys. Headroom and Shoulder room can be a bit tight though for 2 adults. Steering is adjustable and the seats in front are well bolster. Part fabric and part leather seats are being used. However they are very stiff and don’t accommodate large drivers so well. Another complain that we have are the NVH levels. They are on the higher side than usual. Engine NVH levels are good but the overall wind, road and traffic noise that filters is higher than expected from a car that is perceived as a luxury car in the country.

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Engine and Gearbox
What we have been trying to tell you all the time till we explain the engine, is that this car is special indeed. The Cooper S comes with 2.0 litre petrol turbo 4-cylinder engine that makes 194 PS of power 280 Nm of torque. 300 Nm is available with overboost function! Engine is smooth and refined and NVH levels emitted from it are on the lower side. However, at higher RPM’s the engine gets noisy but not by a big margin.

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There is enough torque under 3000 RPM to tumble around town and quick bursts of over take is easily possible. Mid-range is very punchy and there a lot of top-end power waiting for you. Mini claims 0-100 km/hr in 6.8 seconds flat and top speed of 233 km/hr. We could easily see 210 km/hr on a open stretch. All this performance has a cost. Our fuel-efficiency test numbers confirm that this delivers no more 7.6 km/l when driven enthusiastically. Drive sedately you could see 9-11 km/l.

This fantastic power band is courtesy of the gearbox, which has three short gear ratios and then three tall gear ratios. Gear shifts are very smooth and are quick too. Engage sports mode and the responses are lightning quick. Eco mode always make sure you are in the higher gear. Mid mode however, makes sure you are in the right gear at the right time. We recommend Eco in traffic as it helps save fuel dramatically.

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All done and said the motor is fun. But wait! Wait till you press the button found inside the cup holder kept tight with the help of sponge. Press that button twice and the exhaust note rises. Yes, that button is for is John Cooper Works Track edition. Double click it and it’s on and do it again to shut it off. This is active exhaust system that makes the exhaust SO much more raspier than stock system, you are bound to get addicted to it. Give it a flying start and 16-inch wheels don’t stop screeching until unless you reach second gear redline.

The exhaust can get so loud that you probably hear in a crore rupee limousine as this goes past by accelerating hard off the line. Clearly so much thrust in such a little car just made us back off every single time we tried to approach the limit. Cooper S can cover ground so fast and yet so calmly that which makes it terrifyingly brilliant through an enthusiast’s prospective.

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Dynamics It’s a Mini so what do you expect in this section to write about it? Awesomeness? Absolutely. The way the Mini drives tickles the right senses of the driver. The way the car with smaller dimensions turns-in and the maximum agility is provides while doing so is near perfection. Body roll is nowhere found until unless you reach the limit, you do get some but that can be counted as feedback from the chassis which tells you how stiff the suspension is.

The wee bit of compliance in the suspension that gets you the lean is because the suspension can also soak bumps and potholes of our roads. The suspension is just an inch away from being downright harsh. This is properly stiff now and low medium speeds can be bared (with a lemon in your mouth), hit a big bump in sport mode and if you have connecting rods attached to your bones, they will ring alarms in your body!

16-inch wheels and this stiff suspension? Almighty help you on our broken roads if you choose Rs. 1 lakh worth of 17-inch alloys. Steering on the other hand is light and very precise, but lacks the feedback you expect in this car. Brakes are really good with perfect initial bite and lot of progressive performance post that.

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2016 Mini Cooper S Review, Verdict

So, in this 3-door form, the Mini may not be the most practical of lot and it may not offer the comfort you are looking for your family or friends. The thing is, this is the car just for you and your special friend/wife/girlfriend etc etc. This car belongs in the hills, the most happening streets of your particular city, this car belongs to be parked in front of the 5-star lobby and not underground. The car that can get you all the attention you want.

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This car can also put a smile on the face if you floor it from 0-100 km/hr on a open stretch of road. You can take it to the track and be a like racing driver and no one will doubt you for one second. The dynamics and styling along with spectacular well tuned engine makes the Mini desirable like a toy you always wanted, but could get it. No matter whatever the Mini is in this particular avatar, pricey or cheap, big or small, Mini continues to be a trend that it will never cease to amaze anyone for many years to come.

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