After a spirited Mini Convertible, Rebecca Jackson takes the wheel of a retro-themed Mini Cooper S
Our car: Mini Cooper S Seven Edition List price when new: £21,785 Price as tested: £TBA Official fuel economy: 49.6mpg (EU Combined)
August 31st, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 35.2mpg
It's my final week with the Mini before I change it for something much larger - and rather less sporting. The Mini Cooper S 7 has been a blast to drive, and thanks to its retro touches it exudes plenty of character despite being a modern car.
Is it worth going for the 7 over a standard Cooper S though? In a word, yes. It’s the perfect complement of designer signature and well chosen spec list. If you can get over the lack of space and are fond of the Mini brand, the 7 makes a lot of sense.
For something equally brilliant to drive - and cheaper - there is always the Ford Fiesta ST, while if space is a major concern the VW Polo has a larger boot. However, both of these rivals lack the Mini's compelling retro feel.
So, for me, the only car that comes close in terms of driving pleasure with a retro feel is the Fiat 500-based Abarth 595, despite slightly less zip and power than the Mini.
July 25th, 2017
Fuel economy this week:35.0mpg
It is no secret that the Mini is not the most practical of cars. Well, the boot is not very big but actually there are a few redeeming features. There is a movable boot floor which reveals additional storage, tethering D hooks and the opening is wide enough to make loading a doddle. You just won’t be taking the Mini to any Swedish furniture stores. Well, you can, just get a friend with a van to follow!
Inside the cabin, there are two cup holders in the front, one behind, door bins big enough for odds and sods but not a water bottle. Storage under the optional armrest (£110) is handy and the glovebox is a reasonable size, too.
I keep a gym bag and yoga mat inside this Mini virtually every day and it has not hindered space for shopping trips. I even manage to squeeze in all my race kit, although my largest suitcase does travel on the back seat, not the boot, and is held in place by the front passenger seat.
However if you really like this car, as I do, it’s a small price to pay!
July 18th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 35.2mpg
After a few days without driving the Seven, I was glad to get back in the little pocket rocket. Bizarrely, one reason was the way it smells.
Cars have a scent which is unique to their marque and this MINI is no exception. It is thanks to the materials and substances used in the production and the Seven welcomed me with a familiar and pleasant smell.
It wasn’t just that though, the sports seats hug you in a way that you feel secure enough for a bit of spirited driving and the iDrive system is so easy to use that nothing feels like hard work. The Cooper S Seven made me smile and it’s always ready to have some fun so I enjoyed driving it again, immediately.
That was until the tyre pressure warning light came on. It’s a useful feature and after putting in some air and checking the pressures I was good to go again. I will monitor it, or rather the MINI will, and hopefully it won’t happen again too soon.
July 7th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 35.6mpg
We rarely expect a car to make anywhere near the claimed fuel economy figures - however, it is rather good if it can get reasonably close.
The official EU Combined fuel consumption of this Mini Cooper S is 49.6mpg but if I'm careful I can get about 10mpg below that. What that means over a whole tank of fuel is around 130 miles less than if it achieved the claimed economy. I’m using the Seven for a mixture of motorway cruising, average speed zones of 50mph, urban driving and the occasional moderate “Maximum Go Kart Fun” (Sport setting) bursts.
VED (vehicle excise duty) is a hefty £500 for the first year thanks to the new regulations that came into effect from April 1st, but keep the list price to less than £40,000 (which is easy with this car because, even with options, it’s £26,405) meaning tax thereafter is only £140 per year.
Servicing can be predictable by going for a TLC or TLC XL service pack.
June 26th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 36.6mpg
Although previous generations of Mini Coopers had a reputation for a slightly uncomfortable ride on long journeys, the same cannot be said for the latest model. The Seven I am testing has Variable Damper Control at a cost of £375, which allows the driver to switch between Sport and Green modes.
In Sport mode, the ride is stiffer for better roadholding and Green is the more comfortable setting, perfect for long journeys and a more relaxed pace.
This, along with the supportive seats and onboard technology, make the Seven a very pleasant place to spend time.
June 16th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 36.6mpg
The Mini's "Connected Drive XL" system comes as standard on this model and has some really useful features. There is an app to download and once your phone is connected via the USB port you can send locations to the satellite navigation system and make calls to book a table at a restaurant, for instance.
You can also use the app to see where your Mini was last connected, and therefore parked, as well as check the remaining fuel level.
You can also plan an entire journey in advance, including any stop points on the way to your destination, as well as traffic en route.
The app also allows you to listen to music through Mini Connected and see how much time you have spent with/in your car - and it is even able to call for help if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.
Overall, it’s a really nifty piece of technology. Bits of it are a bit gimmicky, admittedly, but I don’t hold that against it - after all, a Mini should be fun and this set-up does not disappoint.
June 2nd, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 34.3mpg
The Mini Seven comes with a petrol or diesel engine. My test car has the same 192bhp, 2.0-litre petrol engine also used in the standard Cooper S, paired with a competent manual gearbox. Simply it is a Cooper S, but a Seven edition.
It accelerates from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and has a confident pull from 50-75mph in 6.4 seconds, allowing comfortable overtaking on motorways and country roads alike. The automatic version boasts similar performance figures.
The torque figure of 280Nm won’t move the earth, although it feels plenty quick enough and has enough grunt for hills - and of course those aforementioned overtaking manoeuvres. This Mini has certainly not felt gutless in any situation I have found myself in.
However, it’s a long way off my little animal of a Mini JCW race car, although the Seven has sufficient power to suit most thrill-seekers during everyday use on the road.
May 24th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 35.1mpg
Mini has been smart to buyers’ requirements with its “Packs”. Customers are able to spec equipment individually from the options list or select packs containing a carefully chosen collection of items, from wheels and trim colours to sound system and driver-focused technology aids.
The Seven I am testing has the Chili Pack - costing £2,540 - which contains multi-function controls for steering wheel, 18in Vanity Spoke alloy wheels and steering wheel, roof and mirror caps in silver, interior trim in glossy piano black, slectable driving modes, LED fog lights, headlights and daytime running lights.
Sounds good to us...
If you like your music then you can spec a Harman Kardon stereo for £590 or select the Tech Pack - costing £2,710 - which contains this and also a reversing camera, head-up display, parking sensors and a multi-function steering wheel. The last four item also come with the Chili Pack, which would normally be £255, £450, £250 and £260 respectively, as they are on this car.
The last few long-term Minis I have tried have all had Harman Kardon and you really notice the difference when you drive a car without. It might be a pricey option on its own, but a few weeks down the line you probably will not give that cost a second thought.
May 16th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 33.4mpg
Discreet logos throughout the cabin remind you that this is a special Mini
Step inside the Seven and as with anything designer yielding a decent amount of class, this Mini reminds you it is special without being like an over-the-top designer copy.
In fact, many may not even notice the label and neat styling lines surrounding the large, retro central instrument housing. They are there, if you look hard enough, as is the “MINI Yours” logo stitched into the seats - a symbol that this Mini has some customised options.
The smart kickplates on the sill
Easier to spot is the tag on the sill plates and the Union Jack at the base of the leather-bound steering wheel.
There are also Malt Brown armrests and knee-rolls, combined with Piano Black elements, which all work rather well and maintain that retro feel.
May 9th, 2017
Fuel economy this week: 33.1mpg
The lustrous black paint is offset by wide bonnet stripes with red pinstripe borders
The “Seven” is a special edition and comes in a choice of four colours; Lapisluxury Blue, Pepper White, Midnight Black or British Racing Green. The car I’m testing is the black version, which is rich and lustrous, and looks great set against the silver roof, door mirrors and wide bonnet stripes enhanced with red pinstripe borders.
The wheel choice is between 17-inch, seven-spoke items in Spectre Grey or the 18in Vanity Spoke fitted to our test car. Both wheel types are two-tone and look both smart and stylish.
And the swish designer badge on the scuttle reminds us that this is a special Mini.
April 26th, 2017
Fuel economy this week:n/a mpg
Just in time for the new racing season, my long-term Mini Cooper S has arrived.
It's an appropriate choice, as for the first time I will be doing the full season of Mini Challenge races, in the top JCW class.
My wheels to get to circuits throughout the UK is this new special “Seven” edition Cooper S. It produces the same power as a standard Cooper S; with 190bhp delivered to the front wheels, it's good for a 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds.
Although it’s a thoroughly modern hot hatch it is made at the original Mini factory in Oxford. It has a classy retro feel and many aesthetic touches to remind you that you’re in a “Seven”.
Over the following weeks I will share with you how easy it is to live with everyday, what you get for your money and how it compares with its rivals.
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