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121 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is an article taken from MSN NZ - thought you'd all like to see, they seems to like the car for what it is!

On The Road In The Mini Cooper
11/01/2002 08:23 AM - David Linklater
Will the new Mini be the most talked-about car of 2002? Possibly, although that would be a little greedy since it's already been one of the most talked-about models of 2001.

After hype, hype and a bit more hype, at least this year we'll be able to get behind the wheel. The three New Zealand Mini centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch opened on November 26 and took orders for 30 cars within days. Kiwi owners who've ordered Coopers will take delivery in February, but Xtra Motoring has already had a taster drive in the stylish little ski boot.

It's hard to put the Mini into context. Like the new Volkswagen Beetle it pays homage to a decades-old classic, but the Mini is new from the ground up whereas the Bug borrows its underpinnings from the Golf. The new Mini is a lot larger than the 1959 original but lacks practicality compared with other modern hatchbacks.

It's also relatively expensive. The Mini is available in two models for New Zealand. Entry level is the Cooper 1.6, with an 85kW 1.6-litre engine and a sticker price of $37,900. To come later in the year is the Cooper S, with a supercharged 120kW version of the same engine, for $44,900.

BMW retained the Mini project when it divested itself of Rover and the German influence shows in the Cooper's high level of equipment. Front and side airbags are standard, with the option of head airbags. Disc brakes are fitted on all four wheels and feature anti-lock, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), with the option of Automatic Stability Control plus Traction (ASC+T) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The anti-lock system also runs a tyre pressure monitor, which warns when a wheel's rolling radius decreases.

Slip behind the wheel and your eyes are assaulted by interior styling that makes the outside look positively restrained. There are pseudo alloy bars everywhere (actually plastic), toggle switches on the console and a dinner plate-size speedometer in the centre of the dashboard. The theme is retro but the execution is very modern. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a six-speaker CD player and leather-bound steering wheel, although you have to pay extra for an alarm system. The quality of the cabin materials and build is outstanding.

Under the bonnet is a new 1.6-litre engine developed in conjunction with Chrysler. In normally aspirated Cooper form it makes 85kW at 6000rpm and 149Nm at 4500rpm. The new Mini's no lightweight at 1050kg and the power-to-weight ratio of 81kW per tonne is bettered by any number of small hatchbacks, but the Cooper still sprints to 100km/h in a respectable 9.2 seconds.

The engine is smooth enough but lacks low-down oomph and it's all too easy to get bogged down in second gear around town as hard-driven Hyundais charge past. The peaky character of the powerplant and relatively tall gearing mean that you have to work the Cooper fairly hard if you're committed to the cut-and-thrust of city traffic. However, with 34km/h per 1000rpm in top gear, the Mini is an accomplished motorway cruiser and the five-speed manual shift is short and slick. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic with six preset ratios is a $3000 option for the Cooper.

You really discover the Mini's talents through the turns. It's front-drive of course, but the steering is very quick at 2.5 turns lock-to-lock and the Z-axle rear suspension is borrowed from the dynamically acclaimed BMW 3-series. The Mini is a hoot to throw around your favourite stretch of road, with determined turn-in, a rock-steady mid-corner attitude and minimal kickback through the steering. It even rides well thanks to the relatively long 2467mm wheelbase.

The Mini is certainly a dynamically superior hatchback but it's not a terribly people-friendly one. The doors open up to 80 degrees, aiding access to the rear, but the interior remains a packaging nightmare. Space is fine up front but the rear seats are painfully small and you'd be hard pressed to get an adult in there. Isofix mountings are provided for child seats but the Cooper's ability to carry kiddie-related paraphernalia is limited by a laughably small 150-litre boot. The rear seatbacks are split 50/50, but when it comes to cargo you're clutching at straws before you even start.

Poorly packaged but dynamically delightful, the Cooper certainly isn't a car for everybody. But if you're drawn to the fashion-conscious connotations and rank backroads blasting above the ability to carry passengers, then the Mini has huge appeal. As a family runabout the Cooper is hopelessly impractical. As a warm hatch it's simply fabulous.

1,586 Posts
The usual mutton

Thanks for posting this BM' (...hope the abbreviation does not offend;) )

All news is good news

Anyhow, I took out of this review that the Kiwi journalist was commenting on the MINI Cooper's abilities very much from a sheep-pursuit standpoint...

He seems encouraged by the cars turn of speed through the twisting country lanes, though unconvinced about it's abilities in an out-and-out sprint and disappointed by the vehicle's sheep-carrying capacity if he actually bagged one

His reference at the end to a "warm hatch" is a particularly sordid image

...Something tells me i may be setting myself up for a fall here :eek:

97 Posts
fair cop.....

Funnily enough, i find myself agreeing with you BM!

that's probably the most unemotional and fair assessment of the MINI that i've ever read.

It's an all-new car, taking styling cues from another era but executing them in a thoroughly modern way.

It's a comfortable 2+2 seater, not a serious 4-seater, which given it's size may suprise some people.

The interior is a big departure from the 'norm' and will not be to everyone's taste.

The engine is not the most powerful in it's class and the car is not going to kill all competition at the traffic-light Grand Prix.

The car is very well endowed with modern safety equipment and driver aids.

The car handles superbly and is rewarding to drive.

I guess what the article was saying was that the MINI is not going to be all cars to all people. It simply won't be suitable for some folk.

But, and here's the good bit!!!
It's a "fabulous warm hatch" that appeals to a large number of people and they will thoroughly enjoy the whole MINI experience!! (me included)

Have a nice day......;)

Moderator & Sponsor
358 Posts
Just out of interest, how emotional about cars do Kiwi motoring Journo's usually get?

I'd be curious to see how this review compared against a car they raved about (if they do rave in NZ?)

I remember a stay in Sydney some time ago when there was some worldwide crisis on, but the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald was something along the lines of 'Cat Stuck up Tree!' (with a brief comment about world news on page 10).

My laboured and badly made point being that this could well be a rave review as far as the locals go? ;)

213 Posts
I think you might be a little tough on us folk from the Southern Hemisphere.;)

Generally, I would suggest we call 'a spade a spade' and therefore would neither embellish the facts nor 'b**ls**t'.

So on that basis I would think that the report would be factual in the opinion of the journalist.

Does anyone remember the fine Aussie motoring journalism of Peter Wherret from the 1970s? He basically invented the TV motoring shows, long before 'Driven' and 'Top Gear' on UK television.:)
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