Almost everyone knows by now that the new-Mini handles like a go-kart. Well, hear it from someone is something, but to actually experience it on a twisted mountain road is something else. As far as we're concerned, the Mini Cabrio in Cooper S guise is one of the most fabulous front-wheel drive cars ever when it comes to handling.
We managed to drive it both on stretches of highway and on a serpentine mountain road and we must say that it was one of the most fun we ever had with our pants on. The steering is precise and offers enormous feedback (maybe too much at times), while the multi-link suspension on all four corners keeps the car planted no matter how hard you try to defy the laws of physics in a corner.
On top of that, the sound the exhaust makes when you shift through the gears with the top down is absolutely pandemic for your hearing. Our test car was also fitted with a "Sport" button (which obviously remained pressed for the whole period), which actually makes the steering sportier and the howls and barks of the exhaust even louder.
There's also a "boom-boom-boom" kind of sound every time you take your foot off the accelerator to change gears. Speaking of which, the six-speed manual transmission is almost flawless and the gear ratios are low enough to always keep you in the power band, thus providing neck-snapping acceleration. OK, the Cooper S isn't THAT fast in a straight line, but the rather high amount of torque available on tap is enough to provide quite a lot of racy sensations.
The naught to 100 kilometers per hour acceleration (62 mph) takes 7.4 seconds, which isn't extremely fast for today's "sports car standards", but it's more than enough to scare your passengers. Our test car wasn't fitted with the optional limited slip differential though, which kind of made any attempt to "kick it" from standing still pretty futile.
Because of the enormous (for such a small engine) maximum torque of 240 Nm (177 lb ft) available from as low as 1600 rpm all the way to 5000 rpm, the car would jolt from left to right whenever we tried to accelerate harder from low speeds. The engine also has an over-boost feature, which increases the maximum torque by 20 Nm (14.8 lb ft) for a limited amount of time.
The fuel consumption after a ride in the "twisties" jumped pretty high though, almost 12 liters per 100 kilometers (US 19.6 mpg). You shouldn't fret though, the soon as we hit constant highway speeds it dropped to a quite reasonable figure of 6.5 liters per 100 kilometers (US 36.2 mpg). As a side conclusion, if we were to buy a Cooper S Cabrio we would most likely do it just for driving it on a twisted mountain road with the top down, since the amount of thrills it can provide is probably the next best thing to sex, drugs or other endorphin-inducing substances.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
OMG I hate you guys! Why did you ever leave me around a cute little car like this? From the moment I stepped inside it I knew this is the right car for a lady like myself. The mustard-yellow color, the racing stripes on the hood, the black wheels, the retro motifs all around the exterior and the interior... everything looks and feels perfect!
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