Mini Cooper S: Legend or ludicrous?

201405-P90151662-zoom-origThere are very few cars that I’m genuinely unhappy to give back. Most are fine, nothing spectacular and will disappear to be forever filed under “Mediocre”. Every now and then though, something truly sticks out, makes you sit up and pay attention. The new Mini Cooper S is one such car and wowed me in two major areas. Before we get into that though, a quick word on stigmas. It seems once a car has gained a certain reputation, nothing else matters and for some reason it’s more often than not, the fun cars that pick them up. My own personal feeling is this is created from good old fashioned jealousy, particularly from those who have to now consider their 2.6 offspring, whose automotive fun has been curtailed and replaced with a practical diesel box. Either way, if you’ve read this far, chances are whatever prejudices exist around the Mini Cooper S or the Mini Cooper in general, you’ve managed to get past them and find out what this car is all about.

201405-P90151973-zoom-origFirstly, driving characteristics. I’m a rear-wheel drive man. Always have, always will be. They’re just more fun, more involving and better balanced. Mostly. The Mini Cooper S really does transcend all the typical front-wheel drive problems and worm its way into your heart as something truly magnificent to drive. OK, I’ll admit it’s not as fast as something like a Golf GTI, but that just doesn’t matter when you’re grinning like a possessed idiot next to captain sensible. Everything about this little pocket rocket just works. Driving position, steering wheel size, gear shift, feel, turbo punch and grip are all sublime, combining into an experience that’s difficult to match. One word of warning though. If you like your spine, rather configure the sport setting for a more comfortable ride as shattered bones are less than ideal on the daily race to work.

201405-P90151722-zoom-origThe second “wow” factor then. Price. Man is this thing expensive! Yeah you can get a base one for around R380k, but that’s hardly cheap as chips to start with. The new Mini has always been about customisation and this one is no exception, coming at a mind boggling cost though. I’m not going to bother to list all the optional extras ours came attached with as no one has the time or patience to read through it all, but needless to say the gargantuan list brought this tiny hot hatch neatly over the R500k mark. You’d have to have some serious screws loose to spend that kind of money, even if this car is marketed as a premium super mini.

So at the end of all this, the new Mini Cooper S is a rather confusing machine. Crazy expensive it may be, but on the other hand it’s such an amazing drive and so much fun that some may even think the price tag is worth it. And you know what. I wouldn’t blame them.

Price: R381 000
Engine: 1998cc four cylinder turbo charged petrol
Power (kW): 141
Torque (Nm): 280
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 6.9
Top speed (km/h): 232
Consumption (l/100km): 5.9 (claimed)