Mini Cooper 1.5
Week ending July 25
Current mileage 2880
Driven this week 173
This week, I had my first taste of the new Mini Cooper, thanks to colleague Mel generously offering me an evening with the warm hatch. Coming from my own daily hack that has similar (albeit older) sporty pretentions - a Citroen Saxo VTR - I was eager to find out what the new Cooper had to offer.
What became immediately apparent was the surprising low-down grunt of the three-cylinder motor. It really is as quick as you could ever need around town. After flicking the car's settings to Sport mode, I could feel the car tighten up underneath me as the steering became heavier, but more direct and responsive. The Mini had me grinning the entire evening and has left a lasting impression. I can't wait for my next turn.
By Aaron Smith
Week ending July 18
Current mileage 2707
Driven this week 342
After a five-day break in Northern France this week, I can report that the Mini has impressed me yet again. Despite being fully loaded, with both back seats dropped to accommodate my luggage and two full boxes of shoes (more on that later), the Cooper managed a reasonable 41.5mpg cruising at 80mph down the French autoroute.
I wasn't sure what to expect on the driving comfort front; after all, this was the first time I had driven the Mini anywhere other than in town, but again, the Cooper proved it was more than up to the job in hand. The adjustable driver's seat lumbar support was a godsend, and not once in two hours travelling down the A16 to Crecy did I suffer any teltale twinges in my lower back.
I was also expecting wind noise to be an issue at higher speeds, due to the Cooper's fairly upright windscreen, but the car's refinement was impressive; my long term Fiat 500L that I ran last year was noticeably worse.
All in all, a successful trip, despite a frisking from Dover Port border control on the way out. As the customs official rooted around the Mini's boot the number of shoes I was transporting led to Imelda Marcos references being dropped. I explained that my house was being renovated and that this was the easiest way of ensuring my shoes didn't get covered in dust, but I was given strange looks all the same.
One other thing that made the trip much more enjoyable was the P&O Ferries (poferries.com) priority boarding and club lounge experience. No fuss, no hassle; I turned up 30 minutes before my sailing, got ushered on first and then spent a relaxing hour and a half in the lounge and sunbathing on the terrace before enjoying a speedy disembarkation once in Calais. It might sound decadent, but it really takes the stress out of ferry crossings, and is something I will definitely be doing again.
Week ending July 11
Current mileage 2365
Driven this week 249
The Mini continues to impress me in so many ways. This week, while my house is being gutted, I have had to call upon the Cooper’s seemingly fairly limited storage capacity to keep all my clothes and shoes in, dust-free.
However, I was pleasantly shocked by how much you can cram in. With the rear seats dropped (which is very quick and easy to do, via a pull-up mechanism located on the top of the seats), I managed to get a full-size hard suitcase, eight large vacuum-packed clothes bags, two rucksacks and three medium-sized boxes in. The clever magic boot floor also swallowed another Ikea bag’s worth of clothes, too. With another large cardboard box perched on the passenger seat, I still had room in the footwell for my food shopping bags – a girl still has to eat!
Another feature that has made my life that tiny bit easier is something to do with the engine stop-start function. When I’m sitting quietly at the lights with the engine off, instead of having to press the clutch pedal to wake the engine up, a mere nudge of the steering wheel does this for me instead, saving me having to engage the clutch for any longer than necessary before pulling away. A small thing, but useful all the same.
In other news, I’m off to France next week on holiday so it will be the Mini’s first long-distance journey. I’m hoping for some respectable mpg figures and comfort during my time away, despite being packed to the gunwales. I’ll report back on how the Cooper copes next week.
Week ending July 4
Current mileage 2116
Driven this week 93
I had my first go in our long term Mini Cooper this week. Since it was launched this year, I’ve spent time in the Cooper D and Cooper S versions, which left me with mixed feelings about the Mini range.
The Cooper D is a brilliant proposition - the engine is seriously smooth, and has decent flexibility, too. Add in the fact that it offers CO2 emissions of just 92g/km, and you can see why it won a recent What Car? group test.
On the other hand, the Cooper S was a bit of a disappointment. It felt gimmicky in places, and the fact that it struggled to put power down in places where the Ford Fiesta ST grips on tightly was frustrating.
Thank goodness for this standard Cooper, then, which I think is a real delight. The three-cylinder engine is refined and punchy, and feels well mated to the sharp steering and comfortable - if slightly firm - ride.
However, while the driving experience impressed me, there are still parts of the Mini’s cabin that I have issues with. Granted, the quality of materials has moved up a notch or two since the last model, and the upgraded infotainment system is fantastic. But some of the features which many will call ‘funky’, I just think look cheap.
The worst offender - in my opinion - is the fuel gauge. It’s a chunky plastic item that’s tacked onto the main instrument binnacle, with orange backlighting for the eight points on it. I reckon it looks like something you’d find on a child’s Super Soaker water gun.
By Ed Callow