The funky exterior styling will attract a lot of eyeballs of the onlookers who will eventually want to peek through the glass.
You don’t need to worry about their impression changing because the Mini has this department also well covered. The exterior styling of the Mini is very much a blend of circles and the same theme is carried over on the inside.
Open the door of the Mini Cooper S and you will immediately notice the impeccable German build quality. The doors are quite heavy and close with a benchmark ‘thud’ noise. When you open the door, the windows roll down slightly and when you close it, they roll back again. This function is present to protect the frameless windows from cracking.
Once inside the Cooper S, you will notice the all-black, retro styled dashboard which is a combination of multiple perfect circles. The three-spoke tilt/telescoping steering wheel with thumb pads provides you a perfect grip when cornering on high speeds.
Even the steering mounted controls have been arranged in a circular fashion. You can get access to the music system or set cruise control using the steering mounted controls.
Behind the steering wheel is a sign that Mini is owned by BMW now. You get the same paddle shifters that you would find in any BMW car. Inadvertently, they also carry the BMW’s non intuitive paddle shift problems. Unlike a normal paddle shifter system, where right paddle up-shifts and the left one down-shifts, in the Mini, both paddles can change up and down the gearbox. If you pull the paddles, it will up-shift and if you push them, it will downshift.
There is no dial cluster on your line of sight, there is just a huge tachometer. The placement of the tachometer clearly tells you the priorities of the car. A small MID integrated in the tachometer provides some driving related information such as Distance-to-Empty, Average and real time FE. Right next to the steering wheel is the Start-Stop button and key holder which is also circular in shape.
Coming to the center console, you will notice the traditional plate-size speedometer. But unlike the old Minis, this one is analog and digital at the same time. Because of the awkward placement of the speedometer and a weird needle that moves from the circumference than from the center of the dial, you rarely know what speeds you are doing. Your best bet is the digital speedo in the tachometer’s MID.
The circular speedo is fitted with a small display screen that gives you access to the driving program of the Mini. It is not BMW’s iDrive system but a bespoke feature just for the Mini called MINI Visual Boost. Unlike the BMW iDrive which needs a Phd in electronics to understand, the Mini’s can be operated with just a small knob placed ergonomically on the left hand side of the driver.
The music system in the Mini Cooper S is a tailor–made unit by Harman Kardon and features 10 speakers with an overall output of 480 watts. The sound quality is nothing short of exceptional.
Below the dinner plate Speedo, you will find a board of buttons to control the functions of the air conditioner. The Mini Cooper comes with a single zone climate control system which work exceptionally well even in the hottest of days. The neatly designed buttons are separated with metal hooks and theme continues to the sunroof controls.
The circular gearstick is leather wrapped for maximum grip. Some cupholders in front of the gearstick take care of your daily coffee cups to office. A traditional physical stick-like hand brake is present in the middle with an armrest that opens for storage.
The leather wrapped seats offer fantastic shoulder and lumbar support. They are very comfortable and envelop you brilliantly during the drive. They may not have active side support like the BMW M5 but work nonetheless when cornering hard.
The roof features the panoramic sunroof controls and sun visors with vanity mirrors. This is the first car that I have see with a window-side sun visor.
Coming to the rear of the car and there is hardly anything to talk about. Although, the Mini Cooper S is a four seater, there isn’t much space at the rear. Even putting your kids at the rear would be like punishing them for their wrong deeds. Folding them down and using them for extra luggage is the best option that you have.
The Mini Cooper S offers a small 160 liter boot which can be expanded to 680L once you fold the seats. There is no spare tyre in the boot because BMW offers run flat tyres. To change the ambiance of the Mini, you have mood lighting that can be changed in areas such as the elliptical door rings.
The Mini’s swanky retro interiors kept us thoroughly entertained throughout the drive. Like any lifestyle vehicle, the interior is as important as the exterior of the of the car and the Mini understands the concept very well.
Just like the exterior design, the interior of the Cooper S is also a blend of traditionalism and modernity in the right proportions. It’s not a creatively executed interior but a pure work of automotive art.