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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2020 MINI Cooper S

This week we are reviewing the 2020 MINI Cooper S 60th anniversary. Our vehicle was assembled at the Oxfort plant in England and has an MSRP of $35,690 CAD.

Fun Factor: 8

Can it Family: 5

Fuel-Friendly: 7

HWY-warrior: 9

Karaoke Friendly: 7

Baby-friendly: 4

City Cruising: 8

When we started testing the MINI Cooper, the first comments we received on social media were skeptical of how we would be able to manage this little 3-door coupe as a family car… Little did they know that we used to own an even smaller car; our first car was a Fiat 500! When discussing with future parents shopping for their vehicle upgrade, we often find that they immediately jump to the biggest vehicle available. The first question that comes to mind in this situation: "do you really need a car that big?" and most of the time, the answer is "No" or "I might need it that once, in a blue moon." In the end, it all comes down to trade-off, a bigger vehicle often comes with higher fuel consumption and, perhaps, reducing the driving enjoyment. With the MINI Cooper, the compromise may be that it requires a little more effort entering the car seat; however, the driving experience it will procure, and go-kart handling are something out of this world. This is where the MINI Cooper does best; it's hard to quantify how much fun it is driving this little 3-door hatchback. We tested the Cooper S variant, which came with a turbo 4 banger producing 189hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. The regular Cooper comes with a 3-cylinder making 134hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. In both cases, the power is transferred using a 7-Speed Double Clutch. In our real-life acceleration test in the snow, we achieved a 0 to 100km/h in 6.95 seconds. Since all the power comes from the front wheels, you can expect a little torque steer under heavy acceleration. We suspect that the combination of this and the presence of snow caused us not to achieve the advertised acceleration to 100km/h. BMW announces a time of 6.7 seconds, something we strongly presume to be underrated like most BMW products. Acceleration is only a small part of what makes this MINI fun to drive; it shines around corners. We purposely took it in the Lanaudière region, in Quebec, known for its twisty roads and change of elevation, entering each corner in a flash at speeds other cars would just not be able to cope. When exiting corners, you're rewarded with the beautiful burble of the twin exhaust tips that reverb on the surrounding white spruce, pine trees.

Now to answer the concern mentioned above, how did we manage as a family with the MINI Cooper? The Cooper seats 4, seating for driver and co-pilot have been designed around different body types; hence even taller drivers will feel like they've taken place in a vehicle that is a lot bigger than what it looks from the outside. The rear seats are a little smaller, however still big enough but since there’s less legroom; they are more suitable for children or people under 5ft 5. Our 12-year daughter took place in the rear bench with her friend when we brought them to Scout camp, including all their camp stuff, such as sleeping bags and mattresses all fit in the trunk. Herself and her friend had plenty of space for the hour and a half long ride, they never complained about the rear seating capacity. We were more worried about it than they were. The 60th-anniversary package comes standard with features like heated seats for the front passengers, a panorama sunroof. Our version also came with MINI Yours Leather Lounge Dark Maroon seats that gave it additional flair inside, contrasting nicely with the British Racing Green IV. The only irritant we found while operating the MINI Cooper was the location of the headlight controls, which are almost hidden by the steering wheel and are hard to access; this might be nitpicking on our part. The only reason we noticed this small detail was in part due to the LED headlights not being as bright as we would have hoped. Don't get us wrong in an urban area; it was totally fine. When we drove it back from dropping off our daughter at scout winter camp, it was pitch black in the forest, and we would have appreciated if they were brighter. During the week we tested the MINI Cooper, we were able to carry out regular tasks like grocery shopping, in addition to bringing and picking our daughter and her friend from scout winter camp.

Being a pocket rocket, the fuel economy of the MINI Cooper S was quite good. We do have a small disclaimer; part of our test was done with 87-octane fuel as the previous journalist filled it up with regular fuel instead of the 89-octane fuel required. This has likely impacted our city fuel economy that situated itself at 9.1L/100km during our test, while our HWY fuel economy situated at 5.4L/100km. The average fuel economy we obtained over a distance of 600km was 7.6L/100km, MINI Announces 8.9L/100k in the city 6.6L/100km and 7.9L/100km on the HWY. We conducted the remainder of our test with 91-octane fuel. During our test, temperature oscillated between +6c and -17c.

The fuel economy we obtained on the HWY was lower by 1.2L/100km compared to the fuel economy announced by MINI. While maintaining a constant speed, we were surprised by how efficient the little Cooper was and how energetic the engine was while overtaking and still managed to be extremely efficient. The drive was extremely smooth on the highway when dropping off and picking up our daughter; we had an enjoyable time. The vehicle was a charm to drive regardless of whether we were in the city or on the HWY.

Not much has changed when it comes to the audio system; the sound system is of decent quality for everyday use at this price point. The system feels tuned more towards urban and EDM music. Other music styles will sound good, though it may not reproduce treble sounds as precisely. However, unless you're an audiophile, you might not even realize the difference and will be very happy with the sound system quality. When it comes to the infotainment, MINI uses a similar variation of BMW iDrive called MINI Connected, in our vehicle we had the larger 8.8-inch high-resolution touchscreen that also includes Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately, Android Auto is not yet integrated with the MINI connect system; it has been announced on BMW products and will most likely trickle to MINI after some time. It is simple to use, and even though it is a touch screen, we've been drawn to use the click wheel instead of the touchscreen outside of Apple CarPlay. The menus are simple to navigate; the only item we could see improvement if the system had fewer sub-menus. MINI Connected also allows you to see how much fuel is remaining, unlock the car directly from your phone and locate your vehicle if you've been brave enough to give the keys to your teen.

Yes, it's possible to install car seats in the MINI Cooper S, we might have been asked this question about 100 times on our social media. Getting car seats in the backbench may require some acrobatics depending on the model you have, but remember, we generally install them once. Car seats can slide in from the doors, or if you have a larger car seat, they can also be put in place from the trunk while folding down one of the rear seats. Once installed, the ISOFIX ports are easily accessible, and we had no trouble latching the car seat in place. When placing a back-facing car seat, it will take away the legroom from the passenger in the front. Younger children gaining access to those rear seats will require help from an adult to push the seat forward, from that point, getting into place will be easy. Buckling their seatbelt shouldn't be too much hassle. Adults, on the other hand, may find it a little awkward due to the separation in the middle. Another question we received was if a stroller fit in the trunk, it would have to be compact, and we found one that fits perfectly and still provided space for other items. Since so many of you asked about the model of the stroller, here it is Baby Jogger city mini GT (not related to MINI).

In the city, the MINI Cooper drives like a charm; we expected the ride to be a lot firmer; we were surprised by how comfortable the suspension was tuned for such a little hatchback. Other vehicles in this shrinking segment, especially for North America, do not have such a comfortable ride. The trade-off we found is that the turning radius is not as small as some of its competitors. While this doesn't affect the ease of parking, it does complicate things when trying to make a U-turn in tight spots. Something we wished that MINI had more of, are some of the security features to be standard such as emergency breaking instead of being an additional option even on top-end variants. It's nice to see that MINI has embraced an electric variant for those city dwellers that wish to reduce their gas emissions.

Why would we buy the 2020 MINI Cooper S 60th anniversary or what we liked about it: The never-ending pleasure of driving, the stylish Italian job style interior, the possibility of choosing an electric version. If you’re looking for even more power from MINI, a JCW version is available with 228hp this variant unfortunately is not available under the 60th anniversary edition.

Why we wouldn't buy the 2020 MINI Cooper S 60th anniversary or what we didn't like about it: We would like to more security features come standard; in the long run, the maintenance cost of a BMW product may end up higher than other small cars.

MINI has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with BMW/MINI Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred above.

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