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Mini Cooper S

Overall verdict


New cabin, decent chassis, strong engine


Has it become just a little bit too grown up? It's pretty pricey, too
Mini grows up, and not just literally. It isn’t the hotshot of yore: will this new balance find favour?

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Our choice


2.0 Cooper S 3dr


What we say: 

All-new Cooper S is bigger and better than before. A nice thing to own, but you'll pay for the privilege...

What is it?

It might look familiar, but the new Mini – or new new Mini – is a completely different car to the one it replaces. Not a single body panel is carried over. It has a new range of engines, so the Cooper S’s 1.6-litre is replaced by a 2.0-litre turbo. It has a longer front end and a new face with a couple of tusk-like air intakes under its chin. The surfaces are more sculpted and the rear lights are now the size of horse saddles, in an effort to disguise the inflated proportions. There’s even now a five-door option.


The old Cooper S had a rather cheeky reputation, which the new version mostly upholds. If you go for the adaptive dampers and select Sport mode – for ‘maximum go-kart feel’, according to the display screen – it’s especially willing to throw itself down a road. The ride is immediately more bobbly than in normal mode, the throttle is keener and the steering takes on more weight. It could do with a touch more feedback, as the added resistance – achieved with the help of a new, electrically assisted rack – steals a little feel.

When you’re being well behaved in Normal mode, you’ll notice it’s a better cruiser than the model it replaces, and comfier when mooching around town. The Cooper’s engine sounds snarly enough and gives a steady spread of power. It’s a decently sorted little hatch (or rather, not so little these days). Perhaps not as much of a B-road blaster as it once was, but that’s the inevitable price of its newfound maturity.

On the inside

The speedo has migrated to the correct position in front of your eyes, while the central circle it vacates now houses a ring of glowing lights that frame the info screen. The mushroom stalk that controlled all the old car’s infotainment stuff is replaced by BMW’s iDrive wheel. Build quality is excellent and there’s lots to play with, like the collar that rotates around the base of gearstick to alter the driving modes and optional adaptive dampers.

It also actually has some space in the back for passengers as well, particularly the longer, surprisingly accommodating new five-door.


The Cooper S can be yours from £18,655. But for it to really make sense, and to give it a real point of difference over hot-hatch rivals such as the Ford Fiesta ST, it needs a healthy roster of options. And once it’s loaded with those, you’re looking at a big bill. Chilli Pack, navigation, adaptive dampers – they all add up. This isn’t to say they’re not worth it, just that – as ever – the Mini is still an expensive small car. With, given the resurgent hot hatch sector, some tough new opponents to beat…

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
2.0 John Cooper Works 3dr Auto
6.1s 133g/km 49.6 231 £24,195
The cheapest
1.2 First 3dr
75 £12,145
The greenest
1.5 One D 3dr
11.0s 89g/km 83.1 95 £15,020


How about something completely different?



DS 3

If it's style you're after, how about a Citroen DS3? It ain't as sharp as a Cooper S, but it looks good in a mirror