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.
Driving the Mini in Paris
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.
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.
Driving the Cooper S to follow race cars
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).
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.
FunToDrive score: 60
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).