The MINI has always been unconventionally good looking and the new version is no different. It stays true to the original iconic design and styling. Die-hard MINI fans will notice the longer and wider body, and the more substantial front and rear lamps. Other than subtle changes around the car, the MINI Cooper D pretty much looks the same, and that’s a good thing really. This remains one of the most eye-catching car designs ever, that has already secured its place in the automobile Hall of Fame. Guaranteed to get a second glance on the streets. Always.
The interior is a throwback to all things retro, with the big round centre console housing the infotainment screen. In fact, everything about this one is circular, inside out. There are a set of toggle switches for auto start/stop, heads up display and traction control just below the console dial, and another set to operate the interior lights and panoramic sunroof, that sit over the rear view mirror. Look very cool. The overall fit and finish of the dash is top notch with an overdose of chrome. The seats though sporty and comfortable came in cloth & leather combination in our test vehicle which is optional, and costs INR 1.65 lacs. The seat adjustments are manual, though electronic ones would have been sweeter.
Despite growing in size, the MINI remains a bit of a squeeze. So be warned – there is no space for extra body fat. You need to be in shipshape to enjoy this ride. And why not? When you are driving something this good, you better make an effort to look good as well. While the front has decent leg space, the rear can manage to take two medium sized adults. Anyone above six feet would be in a spot of trouble. Ingress and egress into the back needs a bit getting used to, because of the single side door. But once inside, it feels snug like a group hug. Tight, happy, and morale boosting. Which you really don’t mind if all four co-passengers are besties.
The basic MINI doesn’t come with too much equipment. Most features are optional and that is likely to drive the price up quite a bit. Our test car came with climate control, a panoramic sunroof, navigation and phone compatibility. The panoramic roof itself costs a whopping INR 1.54 lacs and full leather upholstery will set you back by another INR 2.95 lacs. Almost everything desirable is an option, and spending so much over the already high sticker price can really pinch. But then, that’s a MINI. Logic defying, yet endearing.
The MINI Cooper D has a mini 211 ltr boot, which is not very useful except to throw around a few shopping bags perhaps. It is like the mini refrigerator in hotel rooms that just about meets your basic in-room requirements, but leaves you severely challenged if you try and shove in a few 2 ltr bottles of coke or a few bottles of beer.
The new MINI Cooper D comes with a new powertrain. The 1.6 ltr 4 cylinder makes way for a more frugal 1.5 ltr 3 cylinder twin turbo. Despite the downgrade in the number of cylinders, power has increased from 110 BHP to 114 BHP, though torque remains unchanged at 270 Nm. The engine is not as refined as BMW’s other diesel offerings, but it really packs a punch. 114 BHP isn’t a stratospheric number, but the Cooper D’s small size, low weight and quick shifting 6-speed automatic transmission combine to create a go-kart like experience that is hard to beat. It is supremely agile, nimble and quick off the block. The transmission has a manual and sport mode for added control. You can throw the MINI around tight corners with confidence and the sport steering is well weighted with negligible body roll. Paddle shifters are missed, as they would have enhanced the gaming like drive experience.
As all MINIs before, the new iteration is also a FWD, and though it feels more grown up, its appetite for a little pantomime through corners still remains. This car has the delightful ability to give you one of the most pleasurable motoring experiences in a small car. If cupid didn’t strike at first glance, behind the wheel is when love gets a second chance.
In terms of safety, the Mini offers two airbags as standard, along with ABS, DSC, brake assist and crash sensors. During our test, the MINI returned an average of 12.1 km/l, although the company claims a figure of around 21 km/l. You can expect it to average around 15 km/l under normal driving conditions.
The MINI Cooper D is unique to say the least. And honestly, it is hard not to fall in love with it at first sight. It will get you all the attention you crave, and then some more. It has a fun cabin, although not the most practical or well equipped one. But these are minor mishaps that you soon get over.
And then, no one ever bought a MINI swayed by reason. Or logic. Or any kind of rational. This one is a pure emotional experience. It is the streetcar named desire that you want. Not one you really need. But if you are looking for a semblance of logic to justify a MINI, the good news is that prices have recently dropped from INR 31.85 lacs to INR 28.5 lacs. Even at the new price, the MINI Cooper D is an expensive buy. But then that’s a MINI. It is nowhere close to being value-for-money or meeting your practical needs. But it does give you a unique on-road experience that no other car does. Barring the newly launched Fiat Abarth, which will be its one and only furious challenger.
With the MINI, you are more likely to adjust your world around it, once you acquire it. You will start justifying the niggles and overlooking the short comings. In your head, you will find reason in the unreasonable. And then you would be happy and all would be well with the world. It’s quite the same feeling when you fall in love.