"However, it’s on the road, that the (F56) improvements really come to the fore. High speed refinement and composure are astounding for a car of this sector and price – it cruises on motorways pretty much like an executive car, while in its long-striding sixth gear, thanks to its muscular 2.0-litre Twin Power engine, revs are kept low, but torque is ample for quick acceleration.
On the twisty stuff, steering response is even sharper than before and, in Sport mode, where it weighs up a little more, the active damping’s set-up to give the car less roll in bends. Again, it feels most impressive when cracking on, and this is very much in line with the outgoing Cooper S’s set-up and feel.
Where, then, do all these improvements leave me feeling? That’s an interesting question, and one that will need more examination. It’s clear that the new car is even more remote from the Minis we all grew up with years ago. It’s now very much a grown-up and mature product, honed for its market, and so much better than rivals such as the Audi A1, that it’s not even worth mentioning them in the same sentence. ‘Ruthlessly competent’ is a phrase I kept saying myself as I drove the Cooper S on this beautiful island.
Despite what many will say, it also remains a small car in its market – think Alfa Romeo MiTo or Audi A1 as its principal rivals, not the Fiat 500, and you’ll see where it really sits in today’s market. And, yes, that ruthless competence and ability may rob it of some of its cheeky charm, so abundant in older cars wearing the MINI (and Mini!) badge. So it might not be Mini in the sense that some of the old guard might attest but, in the context of today’s market, this one’s is bang on, and will continue to bolster the Cowley success story." More on AROnline: Blog : New MINI, too big for its boots? - AROnline