Morgan Flanagan Creagh reviews the latest updates in the MINI range
The new MINI has been around for 20 years now. Doesn’t that just make you feel ancient? Maturing years aside, the retro-styled super MINI has sold very well over the past two decades, so it comes as no surprise that another facelift has been organised. “With the current model revision, the MINI has reached a level of maturity that makes it more exceptional in the small car segment with regard to design, product substance and premium quality than ever before,” says Mr Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI brand.
The MINI 3-Door Hatch, MINI Electric, MINI 5-Door Hatch and MINI Convertible have all received a style upgrade aimed at modernising the models, while paying attention to the car’s central design features. The radiator grille has been enlarged, the position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets and the central bumper strip is now in the body colour, rather than black. The wheel arch has new contours, the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LEDs and the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. “The new MINI design is more modern — it’s fresher, clearer,” says Mr Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI design.
In the engine department, MINI offer three- and four-cylinder motors, as well as the electric option. MINI’s sprightly TwinPower Turbo technology combines both variable valve timing and a turbocharger, which is integrated into the exhaust manifold. The John Cooper Works models, which boast a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, offer up 178hp or 231hp, depending on the size of your bank balance. The far more civilian three-cylinder engines are also available, each with a capacity of 1.5 litres. These motors are available in two versions, with outputs ranging from 102hp to 136hp.
The engines in the MINI 3-Door Hatch, MINI 5-Door Hatch and MINI Convertible are all combined with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. With its 184hp electric motor, the MINI Electric provides emission-free driving fun. Power is transmitted via a single-stage automatic transmission. The high-voltage lithium-ion battery, located deep in the vehicle floor, has a gross energy content of 32.6kWh, enabling a range of up to 145 miles as determined in the WLTP test cycle.
A rather distinctive feature on offer to new MINI buyers is the multi-tone roof, which is literally unique to each car. The multi-tone feature uses a new painting technique to create a colour gradient, from San Marino blue, through pearly aqua, to jet black. This is done by applying the three colour shades one after the other in a wet-on-wet painting process called spray tech. Slight deviations in the colour pattern occur due to changing environmental conditions during the painting process, so every MINI with a multi-tone roof is unique. “The new multi-tone roof for the MINI is not only the most expressive form of contrast paint to-date, it also takes the brand’s hallmark ex-works customisation options to a new level,” says MINI’s Mr Heilmer.
The new-look MINIs have been bestowed with an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and piano black high-gloss surfaces. A newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multi-function buttons is also now part of the standard equipment on all the MINI variants. For the safety-conscious driver, MINI offers the optional driver assistance pack, which includes the new lane departure warnings. This system helps the driver stay safe by registering markings at the edge of the lane and alerting the driver via steering wheel vibration if there is a risk of deviation.
A new version of MINI’s adaptive suspension is also available, offering balanced handling, which the marque claims to be an “optimised balance between sportiness and ride comfort”. The system utilises continuous frequency-selective damping by utilising an additional valve acting on the traction side to take over the task of smoothing-out sudden pressure peaks within the damper. The damper force is adjusted within 50-to-100 milliseconds and depending on the driving situation and road conditions, the damping forces can be reduced by up to 50 per cent.
Though getting a little older, the MINI range is still a popular choice throughout Ireland, partially due to its BMW underpinning, but also down to its own style and handling. The MINI range starts at €22,455 for the three-door hatch and works its way up to €46,175.