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MINI COOPER S 5-DOOR : Mini goes midi

1/30/2015 7:34:03 PM
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If your blind date is disarmingly cute, has an athletic body and is immaculately dressed, you know you have a good start to the evening.

But what if, halfway through the main course, he or she starts to display a strange tic. It does not affect the person's ability to converse, eat or laugh, but it is there. That little tongue-clicking, hand-waving or foot-tapping that you try to ignore but cannot.

Question: Do you go on a second date?

Well, it largely depends on whether the tic is something that can be fixed or something that you can live with.

That minor dilemma may be faced by drivers of the new Mini Cooper S 5-Door.

With its newfound practicality, the variant puts Mini closer to the standard-bearing Volkswagen Golf GTI than ever.

The car is 155mm longer than the three-door Cooper S, with 72mm of that additional length going to the wheelbase (2,567mm). And now, its backseat accommodates three passengers instead of two previously.

Yet, it is still very much a Cooper S - wide-tracked, low-slung and powered by the same 2-litre turbo that puts out 192bhp and 280Nm of torque from just 1,250rpm.

It clocks a 6.8-second 0-100kmh sprint and a top speed of 230kmh - 0.1 seconds more and 3kmh less than the three-door, but no doubt, still a sizzler. And it is not bulky like a Mini Countryman.

In short, for folks who have a family but still want to have fun at the wheel and look good doing it, the new Mini allows them to have their cake and eat it.

Not only that, the 5-Door also has a usable boot. Capacity goes up by 30 per cent to 278 litres, with 60:40 folding split seats adding to the versatility.

Its new dimensions does not affect the car's heat quotient on the tarmac. The slightly grown-up Mini still burns rubber readily.

Squeeze its throttle and acceleration comes forth like an endless torrent that sweeps you off your feet and leaves the competition far behind.

Even with five onboard, the car's immense accelerative power is not diminished. It still goes off like a rocket.

Its suspension is clearly set up for performance, but occupants still enjoy a reasonably comfortable ride.

The Cooper S gets dynamic damper control, allowing you to choose a more comfort-oriented set-up when you feel like it. This is, of course, not found in the original Mini.

Despite road-holding qualities that are best described as go-kart-like, the Mini is equipped with a suite of electronic stability aids, including "Performance Control", which counteracts any tendency to understeer in a hard and fast corner.

In essence, it works like other stability systems by controlling individual brakes and engine output to keep a car on even keel.

Most times though, the car's inherent stability keeps it out of trouble. But with such a powerful engine and quick-acting gearbox, one can never be too careful.

Now, the tic.

Despite much improvement made to quality over the years, Mini does not seem able to shake off its rudimentary past. There are always some quality niggles that surface.

In the case of the test-car, it is cabin rattle. It seems to come from the rear parcel shelf, but it could have been from anywhere.

But because the car is so charming, so well-equipped (the new infotainment system with professional navigation gets two thumbs up) and is so much fun at the wheel, you might just be able to live with the mini imperfections.

Second date? Heck, why not?

Specs

MINI COOPER S 5-DOOR

Price: $179,300 with COE

Engine: 1,998cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual select

Power: 192bhp at 4,700rpm

Torque: 280Nm at 1,250-4,750rpm

0-100kmh: 6.8 seconds

Top speed: 230kmh

Fuel consumption: 5.5 litres/100km

 
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