Bringing out the joy in driving with the 2018 Mini Cooper S

By Carl Cabusas |September 10,2018 - 11:45 PM

cdn photo/carl cabusas

From a design standpoint, there is no mistaking a Mini Cooper.

From its cute size, boxy design, fun character and great driving dynamics, the love for Mini transcends time and demographics.

It is instantly recognizable as a Mini no matter which angle you look at it.

So for 2018, Mini initiated a Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) or a facelift for the Mini Cooper series. The overall design has remained unchanged since the all-new design was launched in 2014, save for some nip and tuck in areas around the exterior where it is mostly needed.

What you will not miss though is the new Mini logo up front on the bonnet, the all new halo ring daytime running lights and an all-LED active headlights, new Union Jack-themed rear LED taillights, new body colors and new front apron completes the mid-cycle refresh on the exterior.

However, most of the important upgrades can be seen from the inside, starting with a new and meaty steering wheel by John Cooperworks, circular info-tainment system can now be accessed by touch control or by using the iDrive-like control, new interior ambient lighting around the circular info-tainment system and Union Jack accent on the dashboard with back light, new all quilted leather (dark tan color) front sports seats, all quilted leather back seats, better fit and finish, and a newly design sports shift lever with an electronic parking button.

The Mini Cooper S retains the same 2.0-liter, 4 cylinder Twin Power Turbo (front drive configuration), delivering an output of 192hp and 280 Nm of torque. The figure may not be hair raising, but considering that the Mini is small, the engine can work wonders with lesser weight on its back. Although the architecture is basically unchanged, Mini has changed the engine in pursuit of better fuel economy; the turbo has been fashioned from a new material and the injection system now delivers fuel at a higher pressure. These changes have contributed to the whole car’s weight increasing by 35kg, as it now weighs 1195kg.

One of the strong points of the Mini is its ability to bring out the fun in driving. I kid you not, it’s really fun to drive. You literally shout for joy when you floor the throttle in the open, winding roads of Barangay Busay. The car is a little cracker, literally hugging the road, flat on all for corners with pin point accuracy of the steering input. There is no body roll whatsoever in this car. The driver seat keeps you in place as you toss around the Mini.

What gives the Mini a lot of confidence in high-speed driving is its braking system. It’s well modulated, never lacking on assist. It stops whenever you want it to stop and there is no fade or dram even from a high-speed, constant brake tap driving. The Mini Cooper S is just a very sure footed car. I have never ever driven a front-wheel-drive car this fun and accurate. It almost feels like it’s a rear wheel drive vehicle.

After driving it around the city and up to the winding roads in Busay, I came to believe that the Mini is my soul mate. It’s just too bad that my soul mate would cost me P3M to take her home with me.

But it is practical for a vehicle with this name. For what it is and for its size, given how traffic Cebu is now and how scarce parking space is around the city, the Mini has the perfect size for a daily ride. And the most important characteristic is that it is fun to drive and makes you feel 10, or maybe 20 years younger. That alone will justify the hefty P3M price tag. It’s also noteworthy to mention that if you do buy a Mini, you are essentially buying two great and Iconic brands — Mini from the UK and BMW of Germany.

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