Mini Cooper undergoes mild nip-tuck

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Keen-eyed observers will note that the external changes to the Cooper range’s latest rendition haven’t drifted too far astray from the looks that garnered much admiration thus far.

After three generations of effervescent exemplar cult status – the new Mini continues the tradition.

In the current climate, the automobile needs to fit into one’s life. This has dictated some profound changes to the purist understanding of what “fun” behind the wheel is. The Mini brand and its seemingly in-built DNA of spontaneity and raw visceral feeling, has slowly evolved into a desire to be more grown-up and mature. But, but has this perhaps mulled the laughs and giggles to a mere marketing exercise? We took to the launch of the new model-line up to find out.

2021 Mini Cooper range:

What’s new with Mini

Keen-eyed observers will note that the external changes to the Cooper range’s latest rendition, haven’t drifted too far astray from the looks that garnered much admiration thus far. The 2018 Life Cycle Impulse that brought about the Union Jack Rear tails lights is now standard throughout the range, as are LED headlights. Mini has opted for three new body colours: Rooftop Grey metallic and Island Blue metallic exterior paint, and Zesty Yellow for the convertible. The majority and most apparent changes are to the front-end design, which features a prominent hexagonal shape. Other additions include new allow wheel options and revised rear styling, and the option to have a multicolour roof.

The changes are not limited to the vehicle’s exterior. The interior gained revised surfaces and more importantly, a new multifunction steering wheel with haptic touch-sensitive buttons, a larger 8.8 inch touch screen infotainment screen and the new digital cluster display. On the safety front, the option for Adaptive Chassis Control, Lane Departure Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control make good arguments for updated, must-have technology and driver interaction.

2021 Mini Cooper range: Driving impressions We keenly got to sample both the standard Cooper and Cooper S at the launch which confronted us with mixed driving conditions. The latter included the city – where most Minis will spend 90% of their time and then later some open roads and twisties. Both variants retain the same engines with unchanged outputs and power figures, with the S producing an eager 141kW and 280Nm. It is linked to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

Most notably from the onset is the level of comfort and compliant ride quality and general refinement. The loud communicative raucous exhausts of the old – gone, replaced with the typical noise you’d expect from a mildly sporty hatch. The shove from the two-litre motor is more than adequate, and the S is decently brisk enough and offers almost butter smooth tractability from low RPMs. Moving to the standard Cooper, the 1.5L three-cylinder produces 100kWs and 220Nm. If your budget can’t stretch to the more desirable Cooper S, one would never feel short-changed.

2021 Mini Cooper range: Verdict The Mini’s famed handling and boastful exuberance is key to the driving experience and its persona. I’m happy to report that the strong performance still produces a significantly matured and enjoyable driving experience.

The changes to the model-line up in years gone by, brought versatility without forgetting the brand’s sacred origins. It is still a great package with a comprehensive focus on refinement and usability. It is easy to see why the appeal of the original still carries so much gravitas. 2021 Mini Cooper range: Pricing in South Africa One Hatch 3-door R424 554 One Hatch 5-door R434 968 Cooper Hatch 3-door R489 654 Cooper Hatch 5-door R500 068 Cooper S Hatch 3-door R564 058 Cooper S Hatch 5-door R574 058 John Cooper Works Hatch 3-door R668 124 Cooper SE Hatch 3-door R686 400 The updated Mini Cooper is sold with a two year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and a three-year/75 000-kilometre service plan.

Compiled by Ntsako Mthethwa