DRIVEN: 2018 MINI Cooper 5 Door Hatch

MINI has been around for 60 years. Though it has grown in size, it still keeps that family resemblance. The MINI somehow retains its youthfulness and funky originality after all these years. 

We took the updated MINI Cooper on a Durban-Jozi-Durban trip – and it’s certainly one of the best cars you can buy in its segment even though it comes at a premium price. The updated MINI is most distinguished by its new LED Union Jack tail-lights and new LED headlights with Matrix functions. Those are the only two features that set it apart from the outgoing model, externally. overall its well put together, we love the whole look.

Step inside

The interior has the typical MINI quirky features. Instead of normal buttons, there are toggle switches which makes doing anything in a MINI an event rather than a normal task. It features a new 6.5-inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth interface as standard and a new multifunctional steering wheel.  It also comes with the latest MINI’s connected which can be accessed via touch screen or the rotary wheel.

The MINI Cooper feels premium. It uses all the right materials. 

Yes, plastic surfaces are present, but they are used in the right places. Practicality, sadly, is not its big forte. Space is very limited – but it’s a MINI so it’s understandable. With just two cup holders up front and one at the rear, the first one to call dibs in the rear gets it while the other holds their beverage in hand. Boot space is quite limited, but there’s always the option of upgrading to a Clubman or Country as you’re going bigger without losing out on that MINI zest. Being a 5-door getting into the rear seats is less hassle especially if you tend to ferry friends around.

Making your MINI unique as those Union Jack tail-lights can be filtered into your car with what the company calls MINI Customised. Owners can order individualised products through a special online shop (www.yours-customised.mini ). Owners can order self-fit parts that are 3D printed and laser engraved with different colours, patterns, icons, logos or phrases. 

Image: MINI

These parts are limited to side scuttles, decorative cockpit fascia panels, door sills and even LED door puddle lights. These parts are shipped directly to the MINI owner once purchased online, making your MINI one of a kind. 

The drive

From the four different engine options, our test unit was fitted with a 100kW/220Nm 1.5L three-cylinder motor. The 7-speed Double Clutch Transmission is a gem, gears are smooth and very responsive. We achieved a best of 7.4 L/100km on our trip to Johannesburg, which is a bit off the claimed 4.8 L/100km. With a bit more careless??? we reckon we can get to as low as 6 L/100km. The handling is sharp and handles uneven road surfaces very well, and the engine note is quite sporty. We think that this engine is the pick of the bunch. Unless you’re a speed freak you can opt for the Cooper S or the mighty JCW. 

We love how MINI has grown without losing its quirkiness and youthfulness. The price might sound a little stiff in the pocket but we have to remember that the MINI Cooper is a premium product with a great design, quick, and offers a fun drive. 

Specs
Engine: 1.5-litre 3 cylinder turbo-petrol
Power: 100 kW @ 4500-6500rpm
Torque: 220 N.m @1480– 4200rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed dual clutch transmission
Acceleration: 0 – 100 km/h 8.1 seconds
Top Speed: 207 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 6.3 L/100km (claimed)
Price: R413,000.00

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