Mini Cooper S review – interior and tech

Retro touches can be cloying in places and there’s not much space in three-door models, but it’s well built and the tech is up to date

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

With three- and five-door bodystyles and a convertible available in the standard Mini hatchback range – something not many rivals now offer – you get to choose your balance between practicality and looks. Squeezing people into the back of the three-door can be tricky, a job the five-door makes easier, and thanks to the latter’s longer body there’s also a proportional increase in room.

Both get the same dashboard design though, the latest evolution of the pseudo-retro arrangement that began in 2001 with the first BMW Mini and its large central speedometer – itself a parody of classic Minis. That layout doesn’t make as much sense these days, as Mini now squeezes a square peg into a round hole – the infotainment display now resides where that speedo used to.

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There’s plenty of modern tech though for a car with so many retro touches. Mini’s version of BMW’s iDrive controller works equally well these days and can be largely navigated without staring too long at the screen. A head-up display is available, and you get other touches such as auto-dimming mirrors, auto wipers, mood lighting… old school it might look, but the new bits are generally pretty good.

The driving position can feel a little high at first, but you quickly get used to it and in general the Mini is a great car to run day-to-day. It’s comfortable, relatively smooth and quiet, and solidly constructed. Storage space isn’t a strong point though – the boot is small, and interior cubby holes either mean or poorly shaped

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