John Cooper, famous Mini fiddler and F1 designer, may have been somewhat horrified by the car that now wears his name. For if you pop the new Mini Cooper S into Sport mode, you are told by the display screen to expect - and I quote - ‘maximum go-kart feel’. Two cartoon thought bubbles appear by a picture of the car, one filled with a go-kart and the other with a rocket. Should you feel less racy, our German friends (this is a BMW Mini, remember) have programmed a different message: Green mode, for low-consumption driving fun! The whiff of cheese is strong enough to make old John turn in his grave. This is sad. Because his name is legend, as are most cars that wear it. We’ve always liked Coopers, especially the S versions and fizzy Works specials. And going by our recent first encounter, the new-gen Mini - the basic one - is very likeable. Can this new S model keep up the good work and uphold the Cooper reputation, despite the silly drawings?
Photography: Lee Brimble
This feature was originally published in the April 2014 issue of Top Gear magazine