Chris Miller reviews the 2014 MINI Cooper.
The new MINI is pretty hard to pick from the last one. For that matter, it’s hard to pick from the first of the new MINI’s too, the thinking at BMW is obviously “no point messing with a successful formula”.
The latest edition of the MINI is the biggest yet although you have to line it up side by side with the older model to pick the difference. Whilst it is wider, taller and longer, it is really only on the inside that you notice.
Under the bonnet you’ll find the biggest changes though with the base model MINI Cooper now powered by a throbbing little three-cylinder turbo petrol engine.
Economy is a real highlight with BMW’s claim of 4.2 litres per 100km easily achievable and helped by a very smooth stop/start function.
The great news is in striving for economy via a three-cylinder power plant the performance hasn’t been hampered, if anything, it’s an improvement over the old 1.6 litre four-cylinder.
The three-cylinder turbo has a really nice sound to it and develops a healthy 100kW and 220Nm, and the spritely go-kart like performance remains intact. Synced to a notchy little 6-Speed manual transmission, punting the MINI Cooper around town is a lot of fun.
The steering is quick and direct and provides plenty of feedback through the wheel. With its low centre of gravity changing direction in a hurry is something you seek out. The ride is on the firm side, but not back breaking, and the MINI Cooper is as composed at freeway speeds as it is pottering around suburban back streets.
The driving position is comfortable and inspires confidence although the small narrow windows and chunky A-pillars restrict visibility. Rear seat passengers will enjoy the extra headroom and longer wheel base although it is still a squeeze.
BMW has paid special attention to creating a more up-market feel to the cabin with a nice mix of quality materials used and the British build quality is first class.
A standard rear view camera make parking easy, and considering the sharp pricing there are more standard features than you would expect. Push button start, keyless entry, dynamic cruise control, alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and the LED central display screen accessed via a very BMW looking iDrive controller are all included for your $26,650 (before on roads)
On the safety front, no ANCAP rating yet for the new MINI, but it does boast air-bags in all the right places, along with plenty of active safety features too.
Like all MINI’s before it the latest MINI Cooper has a genuinely loveable character. It is always fun to drive and always fun to look at. It has some serious competition in the shape of Audi’s A1, but for a refreshing and entertaining premium hatch, the latest Mini Cooper takes an awful lot of beating.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.5 litre turbo-petrol three cylinder developing 100kW and 220Nm
Transmission: Six-mpeed manual
Safety: Not tested
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited kilometres
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: From $26,650