From movie stars to racing drivers and all and sundry in between, everybody absolutely loves to drive a Mini Cooper. This car has started out as a vehicle designed for the masses and metamorphosed over time to the other extreme of the motoring spectrum – automotive haute couture. The only flip side is that you might actually need to be a movie star or a racing driver to buy a Mini Cooper, with the asking rates for one of these well north of the Rs. 30 lakhs mark. But Mini has come to India at a good time because the spending power of Indian car buyers is at one of its peaks and the appreciation and awareness of possessing luxury items is steadily on the rise.
The Mini Cooper comes in two variants ——— the Cooper and the Cooper S. The base variant gets a 1,598 cc, 4 cylinder petrol engine that produces 122 hp. The beefed up Mini Cooper S gets the same 1,598 cc, 4 cylinder petrol engine that does the job in the base variant but for the Cooper S, it———s tuned so that it delivers 181 bhp. More than the power of the engines, the highlight of the Mini Cooper and Cooper S is that both these cars are incredibly agile. All you need to do is turn the steering wheel with a couple of fingers and the car darts in that direction. Also, the steering wheel is weighted brilliantly and this gives the driver marvellous feedback. At speed, jump off the throttle pedal and the exhaust system on the Cooper S makes an extremely satisfying crackle on the overrun. Somewhat mystifying is the fact that Mini chose a front wheel drive layout for both these cars but that doesn———t stop the Mini Cooper from dealing with 0-100 kph in 10.4 seconds. The Cooper S does an even better job and gets to 100kph from a standstill in just 7.2 seconds. Better than all the facts, figures and numbers is the actual feel of driving these cars. No other vehicle in this segment is anywhere near as fun to drive or involves the driver so deeply in the driving experience.
Both the Mini Cooper and the Mini Cooper S have been styled with the retro look on the inside and it does look great. The most striking thing on the inside is the colossal centre console-mounted speedometer that also houses the optional infotainment display. Although the concept is brilliant, it isn———t very easy to read the speedometer while driving but one can always use the tachometer mounted on the steering wheel, which also has a digital speed readout. Everything about the car from the large windscreen with upright A-pillars for good visibility to its cosseting seats and sporty suspension is designed to provide an engaging driving experience. Sitting at the back of the either of these Minis will be uncomfortable on long journeys for anyone who———s older than 12 years of age and although they are split and fold seats, the luggage capacity of this car is only 160 litres. Customers can order their car in one of the following colours ——— Chilli Red, Ice Blue, Pepper White, British Racing Green, Iced Chocolate, Kite Blue, Midnight Black, Lightning Blue, Velvet Silver, Spice Orange, White Silver, Highclass Grey or Reef Blue. BMW, even though they now own Mini, has not taken away the characteristics that make this car a true-blue Mini and this car is instantly recognisable from every angle. The buggy headlight clusters, livid grille, muscular styling and chunky stance are all typically Mini.
If there was ever a car that you would buy with your heart instead of the statistics, it———s this. The Cooper has a firm ride which will get accentuated even more on our Indian roads, back seats that are too small and irrational to take adults and a price tag upwards of Rs. 30 lakhs. Also, one also has the option of getting either of its competitors ——— the Volkswagen Beetle or the Fiat 500. But to experience the undiluted, joyous feel of pure driving, no other car can come anywhere close to matching the Mini Cooper. So, if you are a true petrolhead and if you can afford it, your search has ended.