Mini Coupé Review & Ratings

My decision to get a Mini coupé was made with my heart rather than my head. that’s very out of character for me, but i’ll be listening to my heart a lot more in future. the past 12 months with the JcW have been an absolute joy. The simple fact is that every single time i drove the car, whether it was for my 60-mile daily commute or on a highspirited sunday afternoon blast (of which there were many), it put a huge smile on my face. you just can’t help being entertained by the JcW’s gung-ho character.

The turbocharged 208bhp 1.6-litre engine delivers thrilling acceleration (0-62mph is covered in 6.4sec), and because its knockout punch is available throughout the rev range, the car is always ready to rumble. It’s the handling that really makes a Mini, though, and this one has to have the sharpest ever. the huge grip, impeccable body control and neutral balance help it munch through corners with amazing speed and precision. What’s more, the quick steering, responsive brakes and keen throttle mean the whole car bristles with feel. it’s an absolute riot. Granted, life wasn’t always completely rosy at the wheel.

The cacophony of road and engine noise you’re subjected to at 70mph disqualifies the coupé from ever being a great motorway car. Recently, for example, i drove to the donington Park race circuit for a car launch. i was feeling pretty tired and irritable when i set out, and by the time i completed the 130-mile journey i was ready to throw the keys in a hedge and get the train home. Many of my colleagues also mentioned they’d struggle to live with the JCW’s firm ride, although i never found this a problem myself. What we all agreed on was that the positives far outweighed the negatives. no matter how irritated you got, it would all be forgotten once a set of bends came into view. it was a mixture of positives and negatives inside the car, too.

The Mini is very practical for a two-seat coupé, with a roomy passenger compartment, decent boot and lots of cabin storage. The driving position is spot-on, and the infotainment interface that comes as part of the optional Media Pack works brilliantly. The rest of the dashboard controls are fiddly to use, though, and rear visibility is poor. The car notched up a couple of minor malfunctions in its time with us. A persistent rattle from the parcel shelf really tested my patience, and the ticking noise that should have accompanied the flash of the indicators stopped working altogether. I planned to get these issues fixed under warranty during the car’s first service at Baron’s Mini in Farnborough (01252 520500). The rattle was sorted, but the technicians were totally flummoxed by the indicators. They said they’d contact Mini head office and get back to me.

I never heard from them again. Still, at least i didn’t part with any cash on the day because i’d specified the tLc servicing pack, which covers all scheduled garage costs for the first five years/50,000 miles for a one-off fee. At £275, it’s a must for any Mini buyer, because it really helps keep whole-life costs down. So do the car’s stunning residual values. Considering the prodigious power, i was also pleasantly surprised at how good the car was on fuel. Mini claims an average figure of 39.8mpg, while our true MPG testers reckoned that 35.6mpg was more realistic. despite lots of ‘exuberant’ driving, i still managed to average 31.1mpg.

Here’s the best bit, though. Unlike most Minis, the coupé is comparatively affordable to buy. Sure, the list price of £23,800 isn’t cheap, but it’s considerably lower than those of equivalent versions of the Peugeot RcZ and Volkswagen scirocco. Plus, if you care more about style than performance, you can have a Mini coupé for much less. The 120bhp cooper version costs just £16,640, yet it has the same good looks and is still a hoot to drive. For me, that’s the key to what makes this Mini such a great car. Granted, it has its flaws, but coupés are all about style and fun, and on those two fronts it delivers in spades. For most buyers, the lesser versions of the car will make the most sense, but for me, the hardcore JcW was absolutely perfect. I’m very sad it’s gone.

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