Well, it does sound a little strained, with a slightly brittle edge to the keening note of the supercharger. A couple of times when I've started the car from cold there's been a squealing noise, though there's no evidence this is connected to the conversion; in fact it sounds like a slipping alternator belt and vanishes after a couple of minutes. Otherwise all's well, the engine doesn't seem to be using much oil, and fuel economy hasn't taken too much of a dent either.
It's certainly got bags more urge at the top end, the extra oomph providing a forcefield of much-needed credibility around the slightly-too-cuddly and ubiquitous MIN. Having the drop on smug-looking drivers of big Volvos is immensely satisfying. But does it feel like c210 horses? Not quite. In an impromptu and completely unscientific drag race with the 170bhp Clio Cup, the Cooper S wasn't able to pull out much of a lead, but then the MINI does weigh a chunky 130kg more.
As we've said, we're considering uprating the brakes. They're not generally a problem in road driving, it's just that the lack of initial bite doesn't inspire confidence, though trackdays find them wanting. Birds UK, who carried out the Hartge engine work, can provide a Tarox conversion but upgrading the pads could be a more wallet-friendly option.
And finally a message to Andy Malone, who left a Post-It note on the screen of the Cooper when it was parked in Cambridge recently. Yep, it was indeed the evo MINI, and thanks for your kind words about the mag. Made my day.