In-depth reviews

Mini Cooper S review – design

Nothing else looks like a Mini, for better or worse. Huge range of personalisation means few Minis are ever alike

Evo rating
Price
from £19,555
  • Fun to throw around, well built, distinctive inside and out
  • Not as focused as some, uninspiring engine, limited practicality

Well, it’s a Mini, isn’t it? The proportions and details might have twisted and inflated over the years but you could never mistake the Cooper S for anything else, particularly if you tick the right boxes for colours and options for the suitable rally replica or 1960s touring car look.

You don’t have to go quite so far as we have with our long-term S, with its number squares, number plate band across the bonnet and quartet of spotlights – the dealership will only fit two of those, ordinarily – but the Mini visual options list is vast, so claims that no two cars are ever the same does have some basis in reality.

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More generally, Minis are looking a little bulbous these days, the five-door is quite ungainly, and it’s slightly cheeky that Mini still puts a vent in the bonnet as it did with the original supercharged cars – the current turbocharged models don’t need it, and the vent is closed off. The available Union Jack tail lights are an acquired taste too, perhaps leaning too heavily on the swingin’ ’60s/Britpop vibe for a company that’s been owned by BMW since the 1990s.

More positively, the unique shape does have some benefits beyond its retro appeal. The upright windscreen and level window line is far better for visibility than most rivals, and the car is still relatively compact which makes manoeuvring and parking a doddle – not to mention squeezing down B-roads

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