Guest Writer: Lulu Makhatini
Waking up daily at the crack of dawn to attend to your home and work tasks is not an easy thing to do but; waking up just as early simply to test drive and experience the new MINI Cooper range is such an amazing feeling.
I was pleased to be invited to attend the launch of one of my favourite cars, the MINI Cooper. I felt like a kid counting down the days till Christmas because, according to the invitation, I would be driving not one, not two but THREE new MINIs! This would probably be one of the most fun work days I’ve had in a long time.
Arriving at the start venue in Rosebank, I couldn’t help but notice the MINI Cooper range, glistening in the open parking area; not only because it is impossible not to notice a row of MINIs, but because the popping new colours and individual exterior for each MINI was unmistakeably head-turning.
After completing the registration and COVID_19 protocols, I was ushered to the buffet area, where a gorgeous gourmet breakfast awaited. Having gotten out of the house as early as I had, a piping hot cup of coffee was just what I needed if I was to make it through the day. Settling into the business section of the day, I learnt that the event (which marked the Twentieth Anniversary of the launch of the MINI), would showcase the highlights of the new Cooper range.
The range comprises:
- the MINI 3-door Hatch
- the MINI 5-door Hatch
- the MINI Convertible
The highlights of the MINI 3-door Hatch, MINI 5-door Hatch, MINI Convertible are:
Enlighted about the differences within the new MINI, it was time to put my foot to the pedal. My mind flashed to scenes from the Italian Job and I caught myself grinning at the thought of a high-speed drive in one of the chariots parked outside. Available in a choice of vibrant body paint finishes which include three new colours – Rooftop Grey metallic and Island Blue metallic – my heart had been set on getting behind the wheel of a Zesty Yellow MINI, a colour which in the past had been exclusive to the MINI Convertible.
I settled into the sporty seat of the MINI 5-door Hatch and inhaled the intoxicating scent of new leather. Running my hand over the leather on the redesigned steering wheel, my eyes took in the entirety of the remodelled cockpit and 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display. My eyes rushed over the interior and I soon noted that the new MINI Cooper range uses much less chrome in the interior than in previous models. I nodded in appreciation.
I pulled out of the parking area and pointed the petite nose of the MINI 5-door towards the highway. As expected, the MINI offered a smooth, fun, driving experience. With each tap of the accelerator, my heart skipped a couple of beats and I wanted to scream in childish delight but thought better of it, seeing as I was driving with someone I was meeting for the first time.
Having connected my phone to the car before leaving Rosebank, my driving partner and I enjoyed the sound quality (and volume level) through the premium audio system. Everything I needed as a driver was available at the tip of my fingers – Bluetooth, volume, radio station finder, cruise control, and trip information, leaving me to focus on traffic and driving safely.
My mind replayed a portion of the business presentation, relating to the optional Adaptive LED headlights. I had been fascinated that headlight technology had evolved to the point of including cornering lights and a bad weather light. Activated at the touch of a button, the bad weather light kicks in when visibility is limited, but I was unable to test it as we were driving on a bright summer’s day. I mused that it is a feature that could help reduce accidents that occur when driving in heavy rain, fog or snow.
Our route took us to the Union Buildings where we enjoyed a cool drink while taking in the view of the city. The brief rest stop allowed me to test a different car and I elected to steer the 3-door MINI to our next destination at the Cradle of Humankind.
The MINI 3-door Hatch was just as nippy to drive and I immediately experienced that wonderfully familiar go-cart feeling MINI drivers enjoy daily. Having said that, the 3-door MINI offered a different amount of engine power compared to the 5-door model. My mind revisited the presentation and I replayed the section about the availability of the different engines sizes.
The MINI 3-door Hatch, the MINI 5-door Hatch and the MINI Convertible are powered by efficient petrol engines fitted with MINI Twin the MINI 3-door Hatch, the MINI 5-door Hatch and the MINI Convertible Power Turbo technology and three or four cylinders. The 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder engines, are available in two versions with outputs ranging from 75 kW to 100 kW. However, the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine in the Cooper S, generates a whopping maximum output of 141 kW or 170 kW in the John Cooper Works models.
I am not technically minded but I do know that the higher the number of kilowatts (kW) the faster the car can go; and having driven 2 models within the refreshed MINI Cooper ranger, I can assure you that when I say fast, I mean near lightning quick! Speaking of which, I was alarmed at just how quickly one can pick up speed in any of the MINI Coopers. It was a struggle to maintain the legal speed of 120km/hr as the cars are so comfortable and silently quick. Each time I glanced at the dashboard I gasped and took my foot off the gas. I sheepishly forgave each and every MINI Cooper driver who had ever sped past me as the reality of what MINI TwinPower Turbo means.
Driving in convoy we reached our lunch venue and as I waited my turn in queue at its entrance, I realised I hadn’t given the rear of the MINI more than a glance. Now, posed in front of me and without much else to do, my gaze was transfixed on the British flag graphic designed into the rear lights of the MINI Convertible ahead of me, this feature is also a standard issue in the MINI 3-door Hatch and the MINI 5-door Hatch. The driver in the Convertible began to lower its roof and I watched the graphic of the Union Jack fold neatly away and disappear into the body of the car.
Having enjoyed an outstanding meal, it was time to drive back to Rosebank to end the day and sadly, return the cars. I made a beeline for the MINI Cooper SE and boy oh boy what a mindboggling experience. I had never driven an electric car before and was not prepared for just how quickly it accelerates. Apart from being a MINI, the environmentally friendly MINI proved to be my favourite of the day. At first, I wasn’t sure I had engaged the ignition because there wasn’t even a hint of sound emanating from the engine. One could have heard a pin drop in the MINI Cooper SE, it is that quiet. The only indication that the engine was ready to go was the lights on the dashboard. Giggling nervously, I took to the road.
I had heard a lot about electric vehicles. Queries about driving range, access to reliable electricity and cost of ownership had been the subject of many debates at chilled braais. I delighted at the thought that I would speak from first-hand experience at the next friendly banter. Fitted with a 135kW electric motor, the MINI Cooper SE provides pure emission-free driving fun. For someone who isn’t an expert on vehicle mechanics and grapples with understanding combustion engines, wrapping my head around the technicalities of a car that runs on a lithium-ion battery presents a challenge. To be honest, all I needed to know was that the Cooper SE’s high-voltage lithium-ion battery, (located deep in the vehicle floor), enables an estimated range of 215 kilometres. Satisfied that I wouldn’t run out of power to run the engine, I pressed the accelerator and my shoulders were simultaneously pinned into the backrest as the SE picked up speed. Suffice it to say it is very responsive and needs no coaxing at all.
Once again, it was a wrestle to keep the Cooper SE within the legal limit. Whereas I had managed to overcome my exhilaration when driving the MINI 5-door Hatch earlier in the day, I released all my politely pent-up elation when commandeering the all-new electric MINI. Whooping in delight and tapping my fingers to the music, the trip back to Rosebank was all too brief.
Making my way back home in my car, I reflected on how in the past, I had thought the price tag of the MINI Cooper was excessive. After a glorious day spent experiencing three of them my appreciation for the price versus value had grown. In my opinion, any one of the sexy, compact, powerful and eye-catching MINI’s suit the lifestyle of women at any stage of their life and are worth every hard-worked-for penny.
Three drive units are available for both the MINI 3-door Hatch and the MINI 5-door Hatch:
MINI One 3-door Hatch:75 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 10.3 seconds, top speed: 195 km/h. fuel consumption (combined): 5.6 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 128g/km.
MINI Cooper 3-door Hatch: 100 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 8.1 seconds, top speed: 210 km/h. fuel consumption (combined): 5.6 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 128g/km
MINI Cooper S 3-door Hatch: 141 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, top speed: 235 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 6.0 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 136 g/km.
MINI One 5-door Hatch: 75 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 10.6 seconds, top speed: 192 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 5.7 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 131 g/km.
MINI Cooper 5-door Hatch: 100 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds, top speed: 207 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 5.7 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 131 g/km.
MINI Cooper S 5-door Hatch: 141 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds, top speed: 235 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 6.0 litres/100 km, CO2 emissions (combined): 136 g/km)
Two engines are available for the MINI Convertible:
MINI Cooper Convertible: 100 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, top speed: 205 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 6.0 litres/100 km.
CO2 emissions (combined): 137 g/km.
MINI Cooper S Convertible: 141 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, top speed: 230 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 6.3 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 143 g/km
MINI Cooper SE: 135 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, top speed: 150 km/h, energy consumption: 17.5 kWh/100 km, CO2 emissions: 0 g/km, range: 215 km.
MINI John Cooper Works: 170 kW, 0 – 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, top speed: 246 km/h, fuel consumption (combined): 6.3 litres/100 km. CO2 emissions (combined): 143 g/km.
|MINI One 3-door Hatch||Priced from R420 000-00|
|MINI Cooper 3-door Hatch||Priced from R469 500-00|
|MINI Cooper S 3-door Hatch||Priced from R530 000-00|
|MINI One 5-door Hatch||Priced from R530 000-00|
|MINI Cooper 5-door Hatch||Priced from R479 500-00|
|MINI Cooper S 5-door Hatch||Priced from R540 000-00|
|MINI John Cooper Work||Priced from R615 000-00|
|MINI Cooper SE||Priced from R658 000-00|