Car of the week: August 28th - Mini Hatch

Steve McKenlay

Available from:
AGMC Dubai: Tel: 04 454 1020
Abu Dhabi Motors Abu Dhabi: Tel: 02 507 5800

The last time I showed any real enthusiasm for a Mini was when I was 17 years old, had just passed my driving test and wanted to buy a black John Player Cooper S as my first car.

Sadly, the insurance was too expensive, so it never happened. That was a long time ago when Mini was owned by Austin. It is now part of the BMW empire and has become a huge success story with a Mini explosion of different variations of a car that is currently celebrating its 55th year.

You can’t dispute their popularity but – and this is purely a personal opinion – some of the models, particularly the larger ones which look like Minis on steroids, and the Mini Coupe which is like driving around in a pillbox, leave me cold.

So when I was asked if I would like to try out the new Mini Hatch, Iwas expecting yet another example of design gone slightly mad and not a car that would remind me of that black Cooper S of my youth.

However, I couldn’t have been more wrong because this latest Mini Cooper S is a little belter, paying homage to the original car and yet moving it into a new era. Mini’s designers have gone back to the future and produced what is probably the most complete Mini ever built. The reason I love this little car is that it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. It doesn’t have any quirky designs; it is not oversized – it is what a Mini Cooper S should be – down to earth, sporty and with unmistakeable links to its heritage.

This latest Mini is slightly roomier than its predecessor, and generally it looks more aggressive. The biggest improvement for me is inside where the signature circular infotainment screen is still there, but is no longer used for the speedometer which has, thankfully, been put back where it belongs – behind the steering wheel. It also has an excellent head up display, park assist, rear view camera and pedestrian warning system.

The Mini Connected technology is extremely impressive and the ambient lighting which glows around the circular screen is a also nice touch, although a little bit over the top. Once you sit in the Mini you no longer feel as if you are sitting in a fashion accessory but in a really classy small car with attitude. You don’t have to insert the key to start the vehicle as there is now a very cool starter toggle which glows red.

To drive, this car is brilliant. It has the go-kart like handling you expect from a Mini and a new 2-litre, four cylinder engine with 192bhp makes it pretty quick. It’s not fast enough to leave you breathless but a 0-100kmh time of just over six seconds is respectable.

It has a six-speed automatic gearbox which works well and there are wheel-mounted paddle shifts toup the fun factor. I really enjoyed driving this little car and the colour scheme of the Mini Hatch we had for a few days was superb. It turned heads, and as is the case with almost all Minis, made people smile.

Unfortunatley, the Mini is no longer the affordable peoples’ car it once was but has evolved into a premium small car with a price to match. That apart, this stunning little car is the first Mini that really grabbed my attention and took me back to that black Cooper all those years ago. It is the original remastered and is a suitable way to celebrate this famous marque’s 55th birthday.

Why buy it

Most complete Mini ever
Looks great
Fun to drive
Reasonably fast
Good technology

Why not

Really a two-seater as seats in the back are virtually useless. It is also very expensive for what is a small, if fun, car.

Mini Hatch- specifications

Manufacturer : BMW
Production : 2013 to present
Class : Premium small car
Body style : Two plus two
Layout : Front wheel drive
Engine : 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder
Output : 192bhp
Torque : 280nm
0-100km : 6.7 seconds
Transmission : Six-speed automatic with paddle shifts
Kerb weight : 1,160kg
Top speed : 235kmh
Price : From Dh140,000

Rating- 8.5/10


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