2017 Mini Cooper S 5 Doors Interior And Exterior
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|Title||:||2017 Mini Cooper S 5 Doors Interior and Exterior Overview|
|Description||:|| Oh, I shouldn’t be enjoying myself so much. In some retail outlets I am considered a senior citizen, so I should be showing some maturity, not looking for opportunities to blast up on-ramps or hoon around corners with gleeful abandon. Yes, I blame Mini’s still diminutive 5-Door, the slightly more stretched and therefore more practical version of the future-classic 3-Door hardtop. And, yes, without going into deep debt, few are the cars that will plaster a Cheshire cat grin on your face as wide as the one resulting from even a few minutes in the seat of the British-built, BMW-owned subcompact. |
But this particular tester, the faster and more furious 189-horsepower Cooper S, is saddled with (gasp!) an automatic transmission, not the coveted six-speed manual. There’s no snickety-snick of the shifter sliding through the gates. And I’ve gone on record as saying that getting a Mini with the automatic is missing the whole point of the car. Have I changed my mind?
Well, yes and no. Given an uninterrupted stretch of tarmac, preferably one with more twists and turns than the plot of The Usual Suspects, rowing through the car’s gears is a simple pleasure for those with the desire to understand and master the Mini’s intricacies. However, the beginning of spring and its promise of warmer, sunnier days also brings with it soul-crushing road construction. The unrelenting stop-and-go that results makes the pedal dance a major drag. And then there are the poor souls who simply can’t — or refuse to — learn how to drive stick, yet still want to Mini. (Yes, it can be a verb!)
I have to admit that, for the most part, I didn’t mind the six-speed autobox. It shifts cleanly and, depending on which mode was in use — there’s a choice of Mid (the default), Green or Sport — the car displays plenty of zip, made all the more pronounced by the S’s low centre of gravity, limpet-like grip and tight steering.
More specifically, in Green mode, the energy used by electrically powered comfort functions such as air conditioning and exterior mirror heating is reduced. Personally, I felt Green sucked a lot of the fun out of the car’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four. Switching to Sport mode, however, ramps up the Cooper S’s hooligan-in-a-box nature. And, since Minis in general should be given a heavy boot at every opportunity, Sport is where it’s happiest, though Mid is acceptable. One can also self-shift using the console-mounted gear lever — pull back to upshift, push forward to downshift — but it’s not all that satisfying.
So, here’s the big question when it comes to the 5-Door: Other than the additional doors, is there that much more utility compared with the original 3-Door? Let’s grab a tape measure and work this out. The Cooper S 5-Door is 4,013 millimetres long, 1,727 mm wide and 1,425 mm tall; this makes it 161 mm longer and 15 mm higher than the Cooper S 3-Door (the width is the same). The wheelbase is extended by 72 mm to 2,567 mm, while the track is identical to that of the 3-Door. Mini will tell you the stretch enhances interior comfort and that, thanks to the extended wheelbase, rear passengers now have 72 mm more foot space and legroom available, while the increased space also provides for easier access as well as a third seat in the back row.
All well and good, right? Now, I admit to be slightly taller than the average male, a leggy 6-foot-2. I have plenty of stretch-out room in the driver’s seat, not feeling claustrophobic at all. However, I can guarantee that if I’m behind the wheel, there is virtually no legroom available to rear-seat passengers unless they’re in baby seats.
A further $1,000 gets you the Wired Navigation package, which includes a large, round 8.8-inch touchscreen in the centre console for the navigation and other systems (entertainment, phone and vehicle functions). A rotary knob in the console — Mini Connected is essentially BMW’s iDrive by another name — flips between the various systems.
In S form and, especially, the high-performance John Cooper Works version, the Mini is as much a budget sports car as it is a functional (for its size) hatchback. And it is, by any other name, a front-wheel-drive BMW. Still, BMW-like option pricing jacked the cost of the Cooper S tester to more than $38,400 (base price of $27,490). Personally, I’d be far more prudent with the option boxes, with a $30K max build sheet — and the manual transmission.
As Minis go, I’d still pick the 5-Door over the 3. It retains the driver/car interaction par excellence that defines the brand, has a better ride and additional room, plus the utility of the rear doors. But it’s my gym bag or groceries going into the back seats, not people.
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