There are around 150 manufacturers in the world who dump hundreds of car models in the auto market every year. Some are a hit and some are a complete flop. Then there are some which become more than just mere launches.
They become icons of the automotive industry.
Every manufacturer wants at least one icon in their portfolio but it is very hard to develop one. The reason being no one knows what it takes to make a car an icon, it just happens, its destiny. The Fiat 500, Ford Mustang, Volkswagen Beetle, Chevy Corvette, etc have been around with us for decades and are the most revered cars in the automotive industry.
But the car that we have tested over here, the Mini Cooper, is not just an icon, it started a small car revolution in the world. The Mini Cooper may be viewed as an automotive fashion icon right now, but little does everyone know that it was born as a cheap runabout to answer the fuel crisis in 1956 in a project funded by the now defunct British Leyland. But I don’t want to bore you with history. That was then and this is now!
Back at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo, BMW announced the launch of the Mini brand in India with the launch of the Cooper, Cooper S, Countryman and Convertible. The automaker confirmed that it had received over a 100 orders on the day of the launch. Given the hype and the excitement around the brand, we had to check out the Mini’s offerings. Luckily, we got the hottest that Mini could offer - the Mini Cooper S - for a media review.
Even walking up to a Mini Cooper S is an occasion. Although the basic design has not changed for 50 years, it has become considerably bigger and wider from where it started.
When the original Mini Cooper was launched, the philosophy was that 80% of the vehicle is dedicated to passengers, the remaining 20% is for mechanicals and luggage. The new Mini Cooper certainly violates its original philosophy. It measures 3,723 mm in length, 1,683 mm in width and 1,407 mm in height.
One thing that you instantly notice when you approach the Mini Cooper S is that the car squats very low to the ground. The chief reason is because the wheels are pushed all the way to the four corners for better handling characteristics and space management.
The front fascia is a blend of modern and retro styling. The circular headlamps get a single projector with LED bordering and washers. Because the headlamps are pushed right to the corners of the front bonnet, it makes the Cooper S look like a cute pug (you know the Vodafone dog).
To make the front fascia look very aggressive, Mini has given the Cooper S massive air intakes, a hood scoop and ‘go faster’ racing strips.
Although I personally don’t like excess chrome on a car, somehow the heaps of chrome surrounding the headlamps, front grill and the air intake gives the Mini a distinct stance.
The side profile is a timeless design. As you can easily notice, the Mini Cooper S is a three-door coupe with a flat roofline. The doors are frameless and are quite long so that the rear passengers get easy access.
The dominating aspect of the side profile is the eight spoke 17’ inch alloy wheels with 205/45 R17 Continental runflat tyres. The huge wheels completely fill the wheel arches but don’t touch the side walls during extreme cornering.
The OVRMs blend very well with the side profile and despite lacking turn indicators, they look complete.
Some ‘S’ badging on the side in chrome signifies the performance cred of the Cooper S. Lots of chrome can be found on the window line and on the door handles.
The large panoramic sunroof is not optional but a mandatory feature. It also has a vent function for the rear passenger. The pillars and the roof have been blackened to match the massive wheels.
The rear also grabs your attention thanks to its retro chic styling. The LED tail lamps, the sporty rear spoiler and the chrome encircled reflectors look uber cool.
The centrally mounted dual pipe exhaust and the symphony it turns on when on the move gives the Mini Cooper S a very distinctive Jekyll and Hyde persona.
Here is a bottom line - the Mini Cooper may be small but it has a phenomenal road presence. Because of its compact dimensions and cutesy styling, it can turn heads faster than teens in miniskirts. This is more of a lifestyle statement than a piece of machinery.
Its rivals such as the Fiat 500 and the VW Beetle may also attract ample eye balls but their design is very feminine and they tend to attract women buyers. The Cooper S, on the other hand, with its flared wheel arches and a racing pedigree, is very much a man’s car.
Even after 5 years into its commercial launch, the Mini’s design still remains cool and trendy.