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What is it?
The fastest and most powerful of Mini’s initial line-up of third-generation models, the Cooper S. Whereas every other new Mini in the launch line-up has three-cylinder power, the Cooper S uses a four-cylinder engine, albeit a more advanced unit than its predecessor’s.
The Cooper S’ 1998cc twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine is 400cc bigger than the unit it replaces, making it the largest-capacity petrol engine ever to be offered in the Mini hatchback. It is, however, 7kg lighter than the old powerplant.
Power is up by 8bhp to 189bhp, but more apparent is the increase in torque, which rises by 15lb ft to 206lb ft at 1250rpm. Mini claims 0-62mph of 6.8sec and a top speed of 146mph, making the new Cooper S a respective 0.2sec and 4mph faster than its predecessor in six-speed automatic guise.
The Cooper S continues to be differentiated from lesser Minis by a series of exterior styling touches. Included is a deeper front bumper with a larger horizontal duct, the signature bonnet scoop, rally-inspired graphics and wider sills. The Cooper S sits on 16-inch alloy wheels.
Inside the thoroughly resigned cabin, there is a nicely proportioned leather-bound steering wheel, unique instrument graphics and more supportive seats.
What is it like?
More than capable, with a sporting nature that's noticeable from the moment you fire the engine. Although it lacks the flexibility of the new three-cylinder unit used in the Cooper, the new four-cylinder engine offers improved low-end response, added mid-range and a more involving character than before.
The added performance and responsive nature of the contemporary underpinnings make the new Cooper S fun, fast and nimble. But, as with the standard Cooper, it is also more mature, and the steering, now featuring speed-sensitive assistance as standard, is lighter in feel but accurate and satisfyingly direct.
What’s really evident is the added security that Mini has built into the new car. You can spear headlong into a tightening corner and lift off sharply without being concerned about the rear end stepping out of line, which provides greater dependability on unfamiliar roads.
When it does begin to slide, it does so in a progressive manner, and there is greater clarity in the way the Cooper S behaves at the limit. However, although the ride is smoother than that of the outgoing Cooper S and has a slightly more forgiving feel, it remains quite firm and lacks the initial absorption in compression and subtlety in rebound that the new Cooper possesses.
Should I buy one?
Yes, because while the danger in developing new cars from scratch is that they can fail to live up to the reputation of their predecessor, that is definitely not the case here. If you cherish driving or are an existing Cooper S owner, the chances are that you’re going to love this third-generation model.
It has been improved in every key area and is undeniably more fun to drive. Still, if you’re seeking simple everyday usability in a no less entertaining car, the born-again Cooper may well fit the bill at a more affordable price.
|It looks worse and is bigger. It is a step down in the key areas, not improved.|
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