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The new newbie - Mini Hatch

15.05.2014

PHOTOGRAPHS are memories. Paging back through the beloved family photo album we’re confronted with smiles, big hairdos and no hair. We share a laugh, a moment, we see how we’ve grown and matured and sometimes even changed.

The launch of the new Mini will evoke a lot of the same feelings for many. The little British car captured many hearts when it was launched in 1959. It became a cult and made its way into countless homes and even into the hearts of its owners.

People learned to drive in them, commute in them and love them. Almost everyone I speak to had a Mini or at least has a Mini story they’re always willing to share.

The new edition of the original new Mini grows on the heritage of the British icon but its modern styling ushers in a new era, while maintaining the hallmark emotional design.

The most noticeable changes made to the exterior are the headlamps and rear light clusters with wide chrome surrounds. Thankfully the body styling remains Mini and is instantly recognisable, but the evolutionary design of this retro car has seen the length increase by 98 millimetres, width by 44 millimetres and height by seven millimetres.

Growing the Mini’s size and a clever rework of the cabin makes the new Cooper’s interior feel roomy. The luggage compartment has increased by 51 litres to 211 litres and the optimised spatial comfort courtesy of a new seat design for all four seats allows everyone to sit in relative comfort.

It might be deemed ‘small’ because of its name but the clever design and various storage compartments along with new dash design offers an air of spaciousness, while the driver-focused cockpit means all the vehicle’s vitals can be viewed at a glance thanks to its ergonomical layout.

Making the Mini Cooper a tech savvy kid is the extended functionality of the central instrument panel, which serves as a four-line TFT display or else a colour screen up to 8.8-inches in size (depending on spec level) which shows operating feedback for vehicle functions  to intensify the interaction between driver and car. The Mini Connected Services is based on the BMW iDrive system.

Taking the reborn hippy out on the streets one soon learns that it hasn’t lost any of its renowned go-kart-like handling. The fun factor remains high with the Cooper gripping like an infant to his mother’s hand.

Feeding it around the twisty roads of Cape Town it was relentless, providing ample feedback to the steering wheel.

Shielded beneath the bonnet of the new Cooper line-up is a four-cylinder petrol engine found in the sportier Cooper S. The twinpower turbo-charged cauldron boasts 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque, translating into a 0-100km/h time of 6.8 seconds and 6.7 seconds in auto guise. The top speed is a claimed 235km/h (233km/h for the auto).

Fuel consumption of the playful Brit is pinned at around 5.7 litres/100km (5.2 litres for the auto) with the CO2 emissions rating of approximately 133g/km.

The pick of the bunch has to be the new three-cylinder petrol engine. Remember the original Mini was born out of the Suez energy crisis of the mid 1950s. Made to be frugal and economical, the new breed of Mini still embraces this philosophy.

The 1 499cc powertrain with 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque can go from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds (auto in 7.8 seconds) and has the same top speed of 210km for both transmissions.

But its greener side is what will catch many people’s attention. Averaging around 4.5 litres/100km (4.7 litres/100km for the auto) and with CO2 emissions of approximately 105g/km (the auto is pegged at 109g/km) it continues to be a frugal fighter.

The new Mini Cooper has all the right ingredients to create a modern icon thanks to its charming modern appeal and strong historic roots. However, the cost might be a little tough to swallow.

The pricing excludes CO2 emissions and starts at R287 500 for the Cooper and R352 500 for the Cooper S. The new Mini will now be offered carrying a five-year / 100 000km Motor Plan.

 

Article written by Stuart Moir
15.05.2014
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