Road test Mini me..

Let's dispense with the MINI Cooper S's more popular criti cisms first.

Let's dispense with the MINI Cooper S's more popular criti cisms first. It costs an eye watering Rs39 lakh (on-road price in Mumbai). The ride is stiffer than anything else in its class and price bracket.

The back seats are fantastic, but only if you adopt the lotus position because there is absolutely no legroom. The boot will take about two boxes of peppermints, as many eggs and will then become completely full.

Also, in terms of sheer volume, this is the least amount of car that you can buy for that money . And here's one of my own -it has the most palpably annoying, flash-in-the-pan gear shifting mechanism I've ever encountered.

The idea is that you use your thumb to shift down and one of your other fingers to shift up. But the problem is that you can do this with both hands on both sides of the wheel vis-à-vis a traditional paddle shift system where you click right to go up and left to go down the gears. Jeez.

Having got all that factual material out of the way, it's time for me to explain why this particular MINI, the Cooper S (barring by unintelligible fondness for the Fiat 500), is the best city car on the planet. And, possibly, the best city car the world has ever seen.

To begin with, every inch of it oozes quality . If you can forget for a moment that it's a small car, you'll find the kind of materials, build quality and sheer great taste that you find on posh BMWs and Mercs. Step inside and you're greeted by a tiny little cabin that feels bigger than it is owing to a full length glass roof, half of which slides open to reveal ten billion miles of blue sky .

It has a small instrument console behind the steering wheel which has a multi-function display and a humungous circular one in the middle of the dash. They've also thrown in BMW's iDrive with pretty much everything, except satellite navigation.

Below, said humongous circular display (which contains the screen), you'll find beautiful toggle switches for the power windows and other things. There are toggles on the ceiling as well which operate the ceiling curtains and the sunroof.

Push the start button and you're greeted with a deep-throated burst of revs from the turbocharged 1.6 litre, 184-BHP petrol engine. When you slot it in D and roll ahead, you'll find that it's not intimidating at all. It's a delightfully easy car to drive. Yes, the steering is little heavy but it's nothing that you'll give a second thought to.

On the move, its perpetually naughty intensions make themselves apparent. As easy as it is to manage, it's always excited, like one of those small dogs. It also feels different from any other car I've driven before it. It feels tight, taut and very very precise. This takes a bit of getting used to in the city.

But when you do you'll wonder how you did without it your whole life. If you're late to work, though, it really comes to life. Its diminutive dimensions mean that it can squeeze through gaps that are normally reserved for rickshaws.

It's got plenty of power, braking and handling to get you in and out of anything that a city can throw at it. It is an absolute joy.
If I had one, I'd wake up ten minutes late everyday, on purpose.

On the highway, the ride is a little harsh as compared to other cars for this money . But what you may interpret as harshness, is actually feedback -the act of the car communicating its communications with the road to you, like Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2 because it never stops talking.

On a twisting road, you'll smile the smile of someone who's just had some great, something I'm not allowed to mention', because it feels superb. And it covers ground at a phenomenal pace.

It really is a magical car, this MINI Cooper S. It is also one of the few cars that had me gutted when I had to return it to BMW. And the absolute best part is that BMW's just revealed the all-new MINI which promises to be even better.

( Source : dc )
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