Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Front wheel drive, a turbo and some snow.. what more could one want?
2.0, 4 cylinder turbo, petrol
6 speed sports automatic transmission
189 bhp, 280 Nm
0-62mph in 6.8 seconds
What's it like?
Wrapping yourself into the body hugging drivers seat, you begin to feel the sense of fun. The almost vertical rake on the bug splattered windscreen, cocktail bar interior lighting, oversized central dial and the red pulsating start button. The design is definitely targeted towards the young at heart buyer!
Pressing the glowing start button gives you a purposeful feeling as the exhaust note burbles into life. Between this subtle growl and the cold shift paddles behind the steering wheel, the car feels meaningfully hot hatch like without even turning the wheel.
The engine loves to rev. With a red line of 6500rpm, the car effortlessly runs through the gears. All of the fun is to be had at the top end, between 4000rpm and the red line. After experiencing the wonderful upshift blip a couple of times, anything below 3000rpm feels sedate.
Without a doubt, the 'overrun crackle' produces the biggest smile. Over the weekend, I learnt that the exhaust would make this crackling noise if it was hot and the car was in sports mode. I found myself deliberately driving in strange ways just to coax this mysteriously pleasing sound from the 2.0 litre 16 valve. If anything, the exhaust note could have been louder. Mini have already thought about this however, and produced a John Cooper Works exhaust. Mini, send me one please!
The cornering confidence that the chassis gives the driver is unlike any other small car that I have driven. There was very little body roll and you throw the car into corners at well above normal speeds just to see how the chassis will cope. The downside of this (apart from a couple of squeaks from passengers) is the ride suffers from being remarkably firm.
Not The Best Bits
I found the car to resonate road noise through the cabin. The longest journey I did over the weekend was an hour and a half, and this was about the limit for my ear drums. It's not an overly loud noise, but a harsh rumble is always present, especially on motorways.
As a person who has the battery % setting displayed on my Phone, I found the fuel gauge to be too vague. Averaging around 35mpg over three days, and with only a 40 litre fuel tank, the display runs out of little orange squares rather quickly! This is a small gripe and I am sure you would get used to it over time. Couple this with the harshness on the motorway, and I can't see this being my first choice for long distances.
On the third day of driving the car, i felt used to the speed. This was solely down to the automatic transmission fitted to this car. I believe that a manual option would allow the driver to use the power much more and not have to rely on kick-down to feel the seat pushing into the small of your back.