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2018 MINI Cooper S performance review

By Dan Prosser, 18 Jun 2018 Reviews

2018 MINI Cooper S performance review

Updated hot hatch gains grown-up personality

Having been introduced four years ago, the third-generation ‘new Mini’ is due a facelift to keep things fresh and to continue buyer interest for the iconic marque.

Although it’s not what you’d call an extensive update. Mini hopes a refreshed headlight design, tail-lights that incorporate a Union flag motif, a handful of new wheel and colour options, piano black rather than chrome trim, etc, will drive sales up.

The new lights front and rear use LEDs, with very clever adaptive LED headlights now featuring on the options list. There are new personalisation options, too, including a number of 3D-printed parts that buyers can customise with their own name or simple graphics – a world first in the car industry.

The revised four-cylinder turbo engine gets new, high-pressure injectors, a new exhaust system and a new turbo, too. Power and torque figures remain 141kW and 300Nm, but fuel economy has improved by about 7 per cent. Interestingly, the updated engine is said to be up to 30kg heavier than before. The suspension has been tweaked to account for that extra weight over the front wheels.

MOTOR comparison: 1965 Mini Cooper 1275 S v 2016 MINI JCW

We’ve come to expect a distinct dynamic character from these BMW- era Minis and this revised model is no exception. The darty, eager front end is still there, as are the quick steering, mobile rear end and overall sense of agility. There may be more weight over the front axle now, but it’s been disguised extremely well.

All told, the Cooper S is a huge amount of fun to fling along a winding road. The engine, meanwhile, is brawny and muscular, but it’s no rev-happy screamer. In fact, having started pulling hard from 2500rpm, it’s done its best work by 5500rpm, so you don’t chase the redline like you would in many other hot hatches.

Putting those claims to the test on MOTOR Reviews

Other hot hatches at this price point may be more thrilling to drive, but none matches a rewarding chassis with a high-quality cabin and grown-up demeanour in normal driving quite like the Mini Cooper S.

1998cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 141kW @ 5000-6000rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 1250rpm
0-100km/h: 6.8sec (claimed)
Weight: 1235kg
Price: $38,000 (est)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Updated engine; useful technology upgrades; design changes are ‘cool’; better ride
It’s not actually very ‘mini’ anymore; extra weight; engine isn’t rev-happy