Modest the Cooper S’s 189bhp may be, but a sub-seven to 62mph – 6.8 for the three-door, 6.9sec for the five-door – is nothing to be sniffed at. Nor is a 146mph top speed; remember when only very high-performance cars used to knock on the door of 150mph?
On paper the Mini might look brisk, but its on-road performance doesn’t feel quite as spicy as you’d maybe expect of a 2-litre supermini. Part of that is a particularly linear power delivery that, once boost starts to build beyond 1500rpm, seems to provide the same rate of acceleration all the way to the red line. And since the engine never feels particularly happy butting the limiter, you end up driving somewhere in the mid-range.
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It’s definitely a quick car, and the healthy mid-range makes for easy overtaking performance. It’s at its best operated with the standard six-speed manual gearbox too, where a reasonably satisfying, notchy gearshift can be stirred around for a suitable ratio. The pedals are well arranged for heel-and-toe when you’re coming back down the ’box too, and in Sport mode there’s an auto-blip function to make things a little easier. The auto ’box isn’t quite as satisfying.
Just as the engine’s not at its most enthusiastic towards the red line, nor is it a particularly great engine to listen to. There’s a hint of induction honk at certain revs, and some exhaust noise just about filters through, but it’s all a little synthetic.
Slowing down again can be good fun though – not everyone gets brake pedal feel right, but Mini is a company that does. The pedal is firm underfoot and the stoppers have good power and minimal fade.