Road Review – MINI Cooper 5-door

Life is an extremely interesting, strange and sometimes frightening entity but, at least, some things in it are meant to be good and some good things in life are just meant to be.

MINI achieves both of those and, while my own personal deepest desire may be for the heavy metal gut-ripping growl of a V8 Roush Mustang roaring its challenge to the world, MINI teases the motoring senses on a completely different level.

From its very first iteration the little car has had plenty of chutzpah, using the word in its modern form to mean extreme self-confidence or audacity.

More than that it had sense of mischief about it and my own early adult years are littered with fond memories of the ‘Blue Goblin’ owned by a good friend that we used to thrash around Cape Town or the loaner 1275 GT offered to me to hammer around the now defunct Brandkop race circuit in Bloemfontein.

Perhaps, strangely, I have never owned one – but that is another story entirely.

Scoot forward now to the latest revisions made to the MINI Cooper 5-door, which still has the same levels of chutzpah shown by its predecessor – albeit at a price tag that puts it well on the wrong side of the market for which it was originally intended.

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Made, marketed and sold by BMW, the German automaker likes to keep the two brands well separated and the MINI identified as British – so it has worked the Union Jack into the rear lights as a cute feature to go along with the MINI logo projected onto the ground at night when unlockign the car.

The recent update for the MINI 3 door, the MINI 5 door and the MINI Convertible includes fresh design accents, innovations in drive technology, additional customisation options and an expansion of the digital services available as part of MINI Connected.

The new features include LED headlights with Matrix function for the high beam, LED rear lights, new light alloy wheels, extended range of leather trim, interior surfaces and colour lines.

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On the technology side a 7-speed Steptronic transmission with double clutch is optionally available for the models MINI One, MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S – as fitted to my test car.

The new transmission is characterised by very fast gearshifts, enabling extremely sporty acceleration manoeuvres without torque interrupt. It is operated using a newly designed electronic gear selector lever – this certainly enhancing Sport mode when the mischief needs to be acknowledged and the head needs to hear the satisfying ‘whap-whap’ as it runds up and down the cogs.

All Steptronic transmissions allow use of the coasting function in Mid and Green mode as well as the latest generation of the auto start/stop function. Navigation and front camera data can now be incorporated in the control of the latter, so if fitted will allow situations to be identified in which it is better not to switch off the engine: for example when stopping briefly before making a turn or entering a roundabout, or if the traffic ahead has started moving again.

The MINI Cooper 5-door with 100 kW on tap, will do the 0 – 100 km/h dash in 8,2 seconds, top out around 207 km/h and keep fuel consumption around the 5,2 l/100 km mark.

However, those are just numbers that do nothing to convey the fun part of driving the world’s original point-and-squirt performer and, where others have failed with retro models, to fully encapsulate everything that was magic about the Issignonis design.

The 5-door covers all the bases as an urban commuter with just enough rear space for the kids or colleagues on a short trip to a meeting. There is just about enough luggage space to fit a set of golf clubs or bags for a minimal clothing weekend getaway.

So, it is practical and economical enough for its urban intentions – but it is on the open road where, allowed to roam freely, it re-ignites the joy of driving, the adrenalin rush of quick cornering and the sense of satisfaction that comes with being at one with the machine.

As far as looks are concerned, the newest version has a modified design for the circular headlights with a black panel insert on the standard ones and an entirely new one for the optional LED lights. The LED daytime driving light and the turn indicator light are generated by a ring which surrounds the entire contour of the headlight.

Likewise optionally available, the adaptive LED headlights automatically adjust their brightness to the situation on the road.

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The new MINI logo is a re-interpretation of the existing logo and now features a two-dimensional ‘flat design’.

The selection of optionally available light alloy wheels has been expanded, too. The 17-inch light alloy wheels in the design styles Roulette Spoke 2-tone and Propeller Spoke 2-tone are now available for all body variants of the new MINI. The 17-inch light alloy wheels in Rail Spoke 2-tone design have also been newly added to the program.

New features for the MINI 3 door and the MINI 5 door interior include the Chester leather trim in Malt Brown and a Colour Line now also available in Malt Brown.

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MINI Yours customised products can be selected, designed and ordered through a specially created online shop (www.yours-customised.mini). Here customers can choose between various colours, patterns, surface structures and icons, as well as contributing their own texts and adding a touch of personal style to the design.

As is the norm with most European manufacturers, there is a long list of optional packages that can be selected to tailor-make the final product to suit your personal tastes – at, of course, a price.

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