One of the advantages of being a premium brand is that you can afford to be unique.
Take for example the Mini Cooper S Coupe. To turn the Mini hatchback into a coupe, Mini could have simply made the roof swoop down to the rear and added a notchback to it but no, Mini ignored the norm. It wanted to be different. It wanted to be unique.
Indeed Mini could have borrowed Robert Redford’s favourite hat, stuck it on the hatchback and made us call it a roof. Fine with that but we are very sure Mini also felt that that would have been a bit too much, and so the base variant of the Mini Coupe is the Cooper S. And it’s different. If you think it’s not enough to garner respect from other road users, opt for the pricier John Cooper Works (JCW) Coupe.
That short tail on the Coupe actually begs people to call it a coupe. Actually, this Coupe is more a notchback, like the Skoda Octavia or, for easier comparison, the Proton Wira Aeroback.
The Coupe is 23mm lower (the roof is the reason) than the hatchback but 5mm shorter. This is not a 2+2 model because there is simply no +2 here. It’s pure two-seater and behind the front seats is a plastic wall with speakers stuck on it and a trapdoor in the middle to allow long objects (like a long parang or a hockey stick or, well, a golf driver) to fit in the boot.
The boot, at 290 litres, is already 75 per cent larger than the hatchback’s, but unlike the hatch, don’t expect to create more room because the rear panel is permanently in place.
The dashboard remains the same, with that dinner plate speedo taking centrestage and retro-themed switches and buttons made out of real alloy. Leather wrapped and stitched, the interior is undoubtedly very premium.
The engine is the BMW-PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) unit, a 1.6L twinscroll turbocharged four-pot that snorts when pushed to its maximum 184bhp and 240Nm output. An overboost function kicks in an extra 20Nm automatically when the computer feels you need it (like when slamming down the accelerator to overtake).
With a bigger rear hatch, Mini has had to strengthen the chassis. That actually adds 25kg to the car, but the suspension bits remain similar to the normal Cooper S hatchback’s.
Mini claims the heavier Coupe is slightly quicker than the hatch, 0-100 is done in 7.1 seconds (automatic) and top speed is 224kmph. With a Mini, any speed feels quick and in the Coupe the sensation is even greater.
As we drove around town and on the outskirts of KL, the Coupe displayed the brand’s handling traits – stiff ride, sharp steering and agility. It allowed us to turn quickly and stab on the accelerator, a point-and-squirt move loved by many enthusiasts. Of course, on roads that mimicked the lunar surface, the ride becomes harsher; those with dentures might worry about that.
The front-wheel-drive manages to suppress the torque steer effect to the very minimum. Once in a while we could feel the steering fighting our commands as we rocketed out of the apex but it was still manageable and caused minimal distraction.
On the winding B-roads somewhere off Gombak, the Mini Coupe proved to be a blast to drive. Power came in progressively while the brakes offered good feedback, giving a linear performance as we built up speed around the corners.
All said, it’s a brave effort by Mini to offer something so niche that only the really affluent Mini fans can afford. - Hezeri Samsuri
Mini Cooper S Coupe
4-cylinder 1.6L twinscroll turbocharged, 184bhp 260Nm (overboost) 6-speed auto
RM249,888 without insurance
So flashy, it’s difficult to ignore