Tour Auto 2019 : Mini Cooper S as a press car.

If you are a human, anywhere in the world, you know exactly what a Mini Cooper is: that’s how strong the brand is. If you don’t, please contact us for science purposes. We all know someone that owns one, and says it’s the coolest car on earth, and this person usually doesn’t know much about cars. So, is this car enjoyable for a petrolhead?

Mini Cooper’s 60s roots

Let’s analyse the Mini’s DNA. It was born in the 60s as a British tiny economical car, able to transport four adults comfortably (or almost). Needless to say, it was meant to be in cities. Later on, it famously won the Rallye Monte-Carlo in the Cooper S specification. In 2000, the production ended, and all versions together, Austin sold more than 5.3 million cars.

In 2001, BMW bought the brand and designed a brand new Mini, that lost its Austin name. And we were lent its latest update, in the Cooper S version, let’s see if it lives up to the legend.

Driving the Mini in Paris

So, this car is supposed to be a cool looking toy for city youngsters, is it good at it? Excellent.

It’s a pretty difficult task for me – as a petrolhead – to judge a car that’s supposed to be sold to normal people, so I got helped by my younger sister to judge the car.

Design-wise, the car is flawless, everyone likes its looks, interior and exterior wise. I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of the weird shapes of the dashboard, the materials are very low-end, and there are too many features to focus on in my taste, and I miss the big central speedo. It was very cool. My sister on the other hand, she loved everything. Starting with the infotainment system (which is impressive for a standard hatchback I have to say), Apple CarPlay was a great discovery for me.

The seats are more complicated to set-up than 6 carbs V12, which my sister loved. There are many screens, which my sister loved. The car had 5 doors, which my sister loved (Nico couldn’t live with it, he has an Austin Mini and a R56 Cooper S so he’s very confused facing to a five doors car). You got it, normal youngsters are seduced by the new F55 five-door Mini, and I can understand.

Using the Mini in the city is very easy and agreable, the engine and the automatic gearbox do an excellent job in a daily use. It’s pretty comfortable too, although the suspension are a bit stiff, forgiven by the fact that it’s the S version standing for sport.

Even on the highway, the car was good. It felt safe and stable, comfortable too. The speed limiter/regulator does a very good job at keeping your driving license safe, it even keeps a safe distance between you and the car in front, depending on your speed.
Okay, this article is starting to get boring, so yes, it’s an excellent daily driver. Now comes the fun bit.

Driving the Cooper S to follow race cars

If you have not read our Tour Auto article yet, here is your chance. Now that you have read it, you know that we have had to adopt a sporty driving style at moments, and is it good at that? Yes but.
The Mini was able to follow almost everything on B-roads during the Tour Auto, but it doesn’t give as much pleasure as I would have liked. Haters will say it isn’t its main function, and I answer S for Sport. Even though it delivers a decent 189 hp and 280 N.m of torque, the engine isn’t very alive. However, turbo is pretty fun, it sound like “psssssssssst” evry time you release the accelerator.

And what the hell fuel? I mean down-sizing for ecological reasons makes no sense at all in this case. When you start pushing it, it drinks as much as an Aston V12. For reference, we emptied 150€ of fuel on the first day (400 km or so). So next time, put a 3.0 V12 in it please.

The gearbox is also not that good. It feels slow, unnatural, it even seems to be in neutral for a little while when you manually downshift. If you use it in automatic sport mode, it never selects the right gear (the lowest one I mean), very frustrating. If you use it in manual mode, it doesn’t let you enough freedom, it up-shifts before you do, and it down-shifts when it feels like it’s okay to (even though you are in the rev range).

The brakes work, but they fade after 15 pretty hard braking or so. Fun stops there. Overall, the car has too many nannies, I felt like a child being told what to do while driving it. Even the ESP comes back on when it feels like it, needless to say the car feels much better and fun with the ESP off.

But, there is one thing that blew me away and it’s worth it. The chassis is absolutely incredible. I was able to follow a Ferrari 488 Spider on twisty roads with no difficulty at all. The front end feels almost limitless and the limit is way further than you can expect. I’ve been looking for it all through the test: the go-kart feeling is there, and you don’t scare yourself at any point.

Can someone explain, why did Mini make such an excellent chassis for a car that is meant to transport young people? It’s completly crazy so I definitely love that.

#FunToDrive Score: 60/100

Should you buy it? Depends on who you are. If you are that normal driver, that wants a cool looking car, well equipped, able to win a red light to red light race, the Mini Cooper S is absolutely excellent. I mean it.

If you are like me, and you think that many cylinders, four wheels, three pedals, two seats and one steering wheel and nothing more is what you need, you’ll be a little disappointed. I also mean it. The 2019 5-door Mini Cooper S is great daily car with a sporty character not fully assumed.

Through a lot of compromise, we probably lost a little bit of Mini’s DNA we used to love mainly because of weight (the worst enemy of fun). However, digging a little deeper, I found a terrific chassis that’s simply incredible on small winding roads (even if longer than usual).

11 Comments

2500 km on a Mini Cooper S following Tour Auto

  1. If I have to choose a new urban daily car, it would be a Mini. For sure.
    Look at this cute face guys! Don’t need a rocket to go shop in my everyday life

  2. Les feux Union Jack, Γ§a j’adore. C’est un petit dΓ©tail qui fait une vraie diffΓ©rence. (mΓͺme si les dΓ©fauts citΓ©s me semblent justifiΓ©s (oui j’en ai une))

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