Car trim reviews

MINI Cooper S

A modern take on the cars that dominated international rallying in the Sixties. Fast, thrilling (very in the case of the John Cooper Works) but expensive.

The Cooper S is sportier than the Cooper, and comes in two forms: a 189bhp 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol and 170bhp 2.0-litre SD diesel. The extra power means driving enjoyment is given a boost, not least because everything happens at a faster rate. But the Cooper S remains eminently sensible, with fuel-saving stop-start helping the petrol version to achieve around 48mpg, while the SD diesel can return more than 71mpg. There’s a full range of safety features as standard, and as with any MINI, there’s a huge list of personalisation options.

Good points

The Cooper S takes the MINI into the realms of the sports car. Acceleration is rapid, but the engines are also extremely flexible, with lots of power across the rev range. The suspension has been suitably uprated to ensure the Cooper S is even better on twisty roads, although the optional sports suspension is quite stiff, and this makes the car more uncomfortable. Given the performance potential, fuel economy is highly impressive. All cars are sportily trimmed and equipped, with large alloy wheels, a three-spoke leather-rimmed steering wheel, twin exhaust pipes, a roof spoiler and sports seats, but the full range of MINI personalisation options is available if you want to add more. There’s no need to add extra safety features, however. The full range of electronic stability aids and passive protection features is standard.

Bad points

The Cooper S is expensive to buy and insure. The starting point is more than £18,000, and if you pile on a few personalisation items, you can easily end up with a very big bill. Don’t expect much in the way of discounts, either. The interior build quality in places does not live up to these high prices, and the instruments and controls are not the easiest to read or use. Space is another major weakness of the MINI. There’s not much rear legroom, especially with tall people up front, and the boot is tiny.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Folding rear seats
  • Alarm
  • Passenger & Driver airbag
  • Front side airbags
  • Curtain airbags
  • Manual air conditioning
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Height adjustable driver's seat
  • Single CD player
  • DAB Radio
  • Bluetooth

Recommended optional extras

  • TLC servicing package

Our choice

The standard turbo petrol MINI Cooper S. As with the Cooper, the petrol engine suits the MINI’s character better than the diesel, and the turbo gives it a real performance boost.

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