I remember watching ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ as a child and getting all goosebumpy when he raised his sword (and his voice) and yelled “I have the power!”. I was fascinated at how the sword transformed this docile dude into someone you wouldn’t want to overtake in Delhi – although he never did manage to completely take out that Skeletor fellow…
Anyway, the analogy I was going for is that the new Mini Cooper S is that sword. Step on the gas and the newly engineered powerplant smacks you with 28.5 kgm of torque and 189 bhp of power, and these figures take you from 0-100 kph in 6.7 seconds. I speak from personal experience. I also speak from a slight dizziness, having thrown the car around a specially designed track at Aamby Valley, near Pune. The S is very confident while cornering, feels mighty secure while accelerating and equally comfortable with sudden braking. Those horses do make the 4-cylinder, 1998cc TwinPower Turbo petrol engine a tad noisy, but in a majestic tiger’s roar kind of way.
The interiors are anything but loud – think understated yet tech. Everything is in black, which makes the LED instrument cluster look straight out of Tron Legacy. Everything is also round – buttons, knobs, vents, et al. The central speedometer of yore has been replaced with a new infotainment display that’s available in two sizes – a standard 6.5-inch or an optional 8.8-inch widescreen. Download the Mini app on your smartphone and the display becomes an interface for all your online notoriety. A really cool addition is the optional Mini Head-up display, a retractable screen that slides up directly into your field of vision and displays details of speed, navigation and infotainment. The gearbox is a new 6-speed automatic, with three driving modes; Sport for performance, Green for economy and a thoughtful Mid for a balance between headrush and wallet.
Safety features come standard – 6 airbags including side-curtain ones in case of a side-on impact, 3- point seat belts, Dynamic Stablity Control, Crash sensors, ABS and a helpful Run-flat indicator. Your family is safe in here.
I did have a small grouse with the seat, though. It felt like it was meant for someone taller – 6-feet-plus blokes will want to live in the driver’s seat, but because I’m no Mohammad Irfan, I felt the ergonomics of the seat to be slightly odd. To be fair, it would make a significant difference only on longer drives. I didn’t get to test the lumbar support, though – I hope it hits the right spots.
Let’s go outside, as George Michael once said. The headlamps are newly designed, with LED ones optional. The face lifted front grille looks more ‘open’ and irreverent. The new graphics, fog lights and bright red ‘S’ badge are to make the car look more mature, the company claims. In my humble opinion, it looks more badass than ever. It’s like this – even when Lady Gaga dresses to meet the Queen, she’ll still look like Lady Gaga.
Right then, to the important numbers. The Mini Cooper S starts at Rs 34.65 lakh, ex-showroom; pretty worthwhile, considering you’re bringing home a reloaded icon. I heard a fellow journo quip that you could buy an apartment in Mira Road for that much. But will that apartment drive like a dream, look like poetry in motion and deliver several adrenalin rushes on suitable expressways? Most importantly, will it enable you to have the power?