Following its 2001 launch, the new MINI has made a huge impact worldwide, setting high standards for driving dynamics and build quality in a small car.MINI Cooper S raises those standards even higher through state-of-the-art technology, performance enhancing design tweaks, engineering modifications and increased standard specification. As with MINI One and Cooper a great drive is a dead cert, but Cooper S comes with the added power and stunning looks that place it on the wanted list alongside many supercars.
Supercharger technology pushes the standard 1.6-litre MINI engine to an impressive 163 bhp, breaking the magical, rarely attained, 100 bhp/litre mark. However, the extra power is not there simply to increase acceleration and satisfy the boy-racer. It does take MINI Cooper's 0-62 mph time down from 9.6 to 7.4 seconds, but is complemented by modifications that transfer power into a unique driving experience. These include a re-designed bonnet and front bumper, a brand new 6-speed manual gearbox, reinforced anti-roll bars, firmer springs and dampeners, tuned suspension, uprated brakes and a re-modelled exhaust system topped with twin tail pipes.
External and internal styling treatments make the car stand out as the top-of-the-range model and, importantly, contribute to the performance. The bonnet, front and rear bumpers, side-sills, roof, wheels and tail pipe all get the 'S' treatment, which continues inside the car with the addition of sports seats, leather steering wheel and leather gearstick.
Safety and security remain high priorities. MINI Cooper S comes with four airbags, run flat tyres and a Thatcham approved category 1 alarm as standard. A raft of electronic driver aids also contribute to the car's stability under challenging road conditions and reassure drivers that they can wring every ounce of performance from the car should they wish to take it to the limit.
The levels of standard and optional equipment are impressive. For example, a MINI Cooper S can be ordered with six airbags, satellite navigation, Park Distance Control, mini disc player, double length sunroof, automatic air conditioning and 17? alloys. In fact, the bespoke nature of MINI's production allows an unprecedented level of mixing and matching equipment that could literally produce tens of thousands of different MINIs.
Ultimately though, the standard MINI fundamentals remain - a simple design concept, affordability, a British home and a dedicated sales network. Sir Alec Issigonis' revolutionary concept - a wheel-at-each-corner, low centre of gravity, wide track and long wheelbase - is a vital ingredient of the driving dynamics of the MINI Cooper S, and his value-for-money beliefs also still apply. Bespoke MINI dealerships manned by dedicated MINI sales staff supply MINI Cooper S at an on-the-road price of just £14,500 and the MINI tlc five year service pack is also available for £100.
MINI Cooper S is built at the BMW Group's Oxford facility, which employs a workforce of around 4,500. The cars are all built to order and go through the unique seven stage paint process that produces two bespoke Cooper S colours (Electric Blue and Dark Silver) and the classic Cooper identifier of a white or black contrast roof and wing mirrors.
Trevor Houghton-Berry, General Manager for MINI in the UK, commented: "MINI Cooper S is the icing on the cake for us. It offers a fantastic driving experience with levels of equipment, styling and head-turning qualities that were missing in the small car market before MINI came along. Presenting an affordable, small car that is truly desirable is a real thrill and with thousands of orders taken before the on-sale date we are expecting MINI Cooper S to lead the brand through a second great year. Our MINI Adventure is turning into a MINI Epic!"Published 17 May 2002