Mini Cooper S Paceman 2013 Review

November 22nd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

With seven Mini model lines available there’s plenty of choice, whether you want classic, small and nimble, or something with more space, like this new Paceman.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-rear-quarterDespite the Mini’s oxymoronic proportions (it’s not exactly ‘mini’ and adds almost 180kg over a standard Mini Cooper S), it delivers a relatively peppy 7.5 seconds to 100kph, which is half a second slower. You get the same 135kW, 240Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. Fuel economy is OK for a petrol car with Mini quoting 6.1l/100km combined, 5.4l/100km extra-urban and 7.5l/100km urban. Those figures are for the 6-speed manual, which we tested; if you go for the automatic, it’s more thirsty.

The Paceman’s boot is where you get the main advantage over the standard Mini. It has 330 litres of space with the seats up (over twice as much as a Mini) and 1080 litres with the seats down, versus 680 in a Mini. The Paceman’s fuel tank is three litres less than a Mini at 47 litres.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-rear-seatsThe seats don’t fold fully flat in the rear. There are only two of them, too, and you won’t be transporting basketball players in comfort. You get to the rear seats via the front doors and sliding the front seats forward. The front seats don’t return to the place they were when you moved them forward, though, so you will end up making adjustments each time. Between the seats are two cup holders.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-front-interiorMy drive to Piha on Auckland’s west coast quickly taught me that you have plenty of overtaking power, and excellent cornering ability, but the Paceman has quite an active drive when the roads are bumpy; it demands to be controlled because of the firmer suspension and sharp steering. You’ll feel like you need two hands on the wheel if the road is narrow and undulating because it feels fidgety on its large 18-inch alloys with 225/45R18 run-flat tyres, and the steering is very light. If you take command, though, it delivers a fairly engaging drive with an almost sports car-like feel at times. This is helped by an excellent driving position, supportive bucket seats and the fact that the suspension has been lowered 10mm to create a lower centre of gravity. Continue reading “Mini Cooper S Paceman 2013 Review” »

Mini officially reveals its 2012 Cooper Coupe

June 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini has officially released images and specifications for its 2012 Cooper Coupe today and it stacks up as one fun machine. Built to be the quickest and most aggressive Mini in the range the Coupe is the first two-seater ever produced by the brand.

Mini’s Coupe will be available in three variants, the standard Cooper Coupe, Cooper S Coupe and John Cooper Works Coupe (pictured).

Exterior styling is consistent with the numerous spy shots circulating online and is has similarities to the Cooper hatch but some design cues all its own. Steep A-pilars push into a short, sloping rear roofline with an integrated roof spoiler. There’s a unique-for-the-brand speed-activated boot wing at the rear while up front it’s more familiar with the same round headlights and broad blackened grille. The coupe will also get a handful of unique colours.

In the compact cabin Mini’s Coupe keeps with the rounded theme but it’s adapted to fit into the smaller body shape. Replacing the rear seat in the standard hatch is a small cargo shelf with two integrated storage bins. Space in the hatch is understandably limited but longer items can pass through the rear bulkhead into the cabin if required.  Continue reading “Mini officially reveals its 2012 Cooper Coupe” »

Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini’s new Countryman has been launched amid serious anticipation and with a tough task ahead. To really succeed it requires people to reconsider everything they know about a brand they instantly recognise and mostly admire. When the Mini first appeared in 1959, it was a budget car for the people, a distinctive machine that was attainable and the world loved it. Then in 2001 BMW reinvented the Mini in a modern form, some people weren’t so hot on it, many others were, but we all got used to this new Mini and grew to accept it. Now, in an understandable effort to broaden its model range and appeal, Mini has launched its new Countryman. With four doors and significantly larger dimensions it comes asking new questions of the public. Can people accept that Mini as a company is more than just one model with different variations? Can the Countryman be a viable option for practical-focused families and modern lifestyles? Will it still retain enough appeal for Mini enthusiasts and offer traditional go-kart-style driving dynamics? Car and SUV strapped into Mini’s top spec Countryman ALL4 in search of the answers.

Minis are most famous for being mini in stature so it’s no surprise that many folk are getting all caught up on the Countryman’s plus-size proportions. For the record it’s 4,110mm in length, 1,561mm in height and is quite wide at 1,996mm. This makes the Countryman 381mm longer, 128mm higher and 104mm wider than a regular modern Mini. Think of it as a large hatchback or a small crossover vehicle. Continue reading “Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review” »

Mini counting down to international motorsport return

March 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The wait is almost over for the return of Mini to the international motorsport stage. This season, the new Mini WRC Team will compete at selected rounds in the FIA World Rally Championship. The initial aim is to gain valuable experience, in order to be perfectly prepared for the complete 2012 World Championship season. The Mini John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive, based on the Mini Countryman. It’s equipped with a 1.6-litre turbo engine derived from the Mini production models, which was developed by BMW Motorsport for use in a series run according to FIA Super2000 regulations, including the World Touring Car Championship. Beside its works involvement with the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, Prodrive is also supplying customer cars to private rally teams.

“The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand,” says Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW Group. “Experience is a very important factor in motorsport. For that reason it is essential we learn as much as possible within a very short time, in order to make up ground on our rivals. The new regulations mean the gap to the top is smaller than it would have been at another time. We want to annoy the opposition as soon as possible.” Continue reading “Mini counting down to international motorsport return” »

Mini Countryman – NZ pricing and availability announced

January 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini NZ has announced further details of the eagerly anticipated Mini Countryman, set to arrive in New Zealand next month.

The Mini Countryman is touted to offer the unique handling of a regular Mini with the practical space and versatility of a four-door, plus the traction of a Sports Activity Vehicle optimised by optional all-wheel drive.

Marking a new chapter in the evolution of Mini as a brand, the Countryman is more than four metres long with four doors, the option of four or five seats and a four wheel drive option called “ALL4”.

Mini Countryman pricing will start at $46,900 for the Cooper Countryman and the Mini Cooper D Countryman, featuring a 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine, will start at $49,900.

All variants feature a six-speed manual as standard and offer an optional six-speed automatic transmission for an additional $3,000.

There are two all-new ALL4 models added to the line-up, which cost an extra $3,000 compared with their two-wheel drive counterparts. Continue reading “Mini Countryman – NZ pricing and availability announced” »

Mini Cooper JCW Convertible going to Geneva show

February 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

mini cooper convertible fq

Mini’s going to be busy over the next few months, with new product debuts already scheduled for Geneva (the Mini One Clubman) and Frankfurt (Mini Crossover). If the rumors prove correct, one more new Mini is to revealed – the John Cooper Works edition of the new convertible looks to join its hardtop brother at the Geneva Motor Show in March. As in the JCW hardtop, the convertible version will be blessed with a more powerful variant of the Cooper S model’s turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which can send its 211 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Like the hard-top, an overboost function allows for a torque peak of 207 lb-ft for a short period of time of quick bursts of acceleration.

Chassis improvements include new 17-inch alloys (with optional 18-inchers), an upgraded brake package and standard sport suspension. Of course, no upgrade package would be complete without a few visual modifications, and the JCW delivers with a revised frontal appearence, aero kit and plenty of badging inside and out.

John Cooper Works Minis now in New Zealand

September 19th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mini John Cooper Works fq

The MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman have arrived in New Zealand.

Their 1.6 litre 4-cylinder engine (based on the current MINI Cooper S’s engine) with twin-scroll turbocharger and petrol direct injection delivers 155 kW/211 bhp and develops its maximum torque of 260Nm between 1,850 and 5,700 rpm — by means of overboost the torque can actually be increased to 280 Nm. The MINI John Cooper Works gets to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds while the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman is just 0.3 seconds behind. Many modifications have been made to the engine, not least the incorporation of revised air intake and outlet due to the turbo.

The turbo 4-cylinder is fitted with petrol direction injection according to the common rail principle and gives an output of 132bhp per litre. Injection valves positioned laterally in the cylinder head feed the fuel in precise doses under a pressure of 120 bar from the tank directly into the combustion chamber. This means that in every situation on the road, precise fuel supply is guaranteed which is adapted to the given load requirements. The average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle is at an unusually low level for vehicles of this output category. The MINI John Cooper Works makes do with 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres, the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman requires 7.1 litres. The respective CO2 figures are 165 and 169 grams per kilometre.

In keeping with the historic Cooper name, both models are fitted with extensive motor racing technology as standard: exclusive light alloy rims with especially light and extremely high-performance brakes, a new exhaust system and the modified 6-speed manual transmission.

As is characteristic of MINI, the engine powers the front wheels. The MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman are fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission whose components have been adapted to the higher level of torque of this new engine. In addition to the sophisticated chassis technology with McPherson struts at the front axle and the central control arm rear axle, which is itself unique in the small car segment, the electromechanical EPAS (Electrical Power Assisted Steering) also assists in reliable and precise handling.

The steering system EPAS allows various settings to be programmed. The basic set-up guarantees balanced steering support depending on road speed. With the sports button, which is positioned as standard next to the gearshift lever in the centre console in the MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman, it is possible to activate a perceptibly more dynamic characteristic curve with higher steering torque and increased steering precision. In keeping with this, pressing the sports button also changes the accelerator pedal to a much sportier characteristic setting.

The cars are fitted with sporty suspension settings as standard. An alternative sports suspension set-up is available with harder damper characteristics and stronger stabilisers for the front and rear axle. For a more extreme racing orientation, there is also a John Cooper Works suspension set-up available in the accessory range for the MINI John Cooper Works. It includes a lowering of the suspension by 10 millimetres, even harder damper characteristics and stabilisers with a diameter which is larger than those of the sports chassis.

If the brakes are anything like those on the Cooper S, which we reviewed here, they will be excellent. Weighing less than 10 kilos, the 17-inch light alloy wheels are the lightest standard wheels within the competitive environment of the MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman. The high-speed tyres in 205/45 W 17 format have runflat properties, and both models are equipped with a tyre damage display function.

In addition to sporty suspension settings and powerful brakes, the MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman also have ABS, EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) including hill-start assistance and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control).

DTC is a sub-function of DSC which is available here for the first time in a vehicle with front wheel drive. It enables the response threshold levels of driving stability regulation to be increased so as to allow controllable slip on the drive wheels. In this way, the models MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman can be controlled on snow-covered surfaces or loose sand with slightly spinning front wheels, or taken more intensively to the physical limits in highly dynamic driving situations. When the threshold range is reached, the stabilising intervention of DSC is also guaranteed in DTC mode.

Pricing for the MINI John Cooper Works hatch starts at $54,900. Pricing for the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman starts at $59,900. The MINI John Cooper Works and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman go on sale in New Zealand dealerships from October 2008.

Mini Cooper S 2008 Review

June 11th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Mini Cooper S f

Elvis shocked the world with his pelvic gyrations in the 1950s, but it was the 1960s that brought about the sexual revolution. The baby boom generation, born in a time of new freedom, reached adulthood and spurred a meteoric rise in drug culture, and a great liberation of the music scene, none of which was more iconic than the Beatles.

The Beatles owned Minis, while their screaming fans wore minis, and driving one of the diminutive cars became a fashion statement through into the 1970s. My parents owned one. Some of my friends owned them. Even my extremely untrendy biology and maths teachers owned them.

While the masses saw the “image”, John Cooper, a builder of open wheeler and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini in competition — lightweight, a wheel at each corner, and easy to repair. Cooper was a friend of Issignonis, the designer of the Mini. Issigonis wasn’t keen on the idea of the Mini as a performance car, but Cooper persisted and the two men collaborated to launch the Mini Cooper in 1961.

With an increase in power from 25kW to 41kW from the naturally aspirated 997ccc racing-tuned, twin SU carburettor engine, the Mini Cooper also featured a closer-ratio gearbox and disc brakes at the front. A Cooper S was released in 1963 with a 1071cc engine, then a 1275cc engine in 1964.

Fast forward over five decades and Mini is no longer a British-owned icon, having been sold to BMW. New MINI (BMW insists people spell it with capitals; we think it looks wrong so we’ll continue with Mini), is 55cm longer, 30cm wider and 400kg heavier than the original Mini.

This Cooper S version has ditched the puny naturally aspirated motor and now sports a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, giving 128kW at 5500rpm and a healthy 240Nm of torque at a low 1600rpm — good enough for a 0-100kph time of 7.1 seconds, and small enough to give a sensible 6.9l/100km fuel consumption. The small and unobtrusive bonnet nostril gives the game away over the naturally aspirated Mini.

The Mini is a car that embraces you and makes you feel a complete part of the driving experience. The funky interior contains a lot of circles. The speedometer, which is the same diameter as the full moon, dominates the centre of the dashboard, and contains an inset LCD giving information about the stereo. All the air conditioning vents are circles. The rev counter, which sits right in front of you like in a racing car, is also circular, as are the buttons and insets on the steering wheel, and the gear knob.

There are also various switches that are protected by their own little roll cages. Cool. Unless you’ve got really fat fingers.

Back to the driving experience: acceleration is good, but overwhelms the front wheels in first and second as the turbo comes on boost. It’s the braking and handling that are the stand out performers. The Cooper S brakes like a racing car — there’s very little front-end dive under heaving braking. Even when the surface is undulating, or when pushed hard into a corner, the Cooper S stays very flat, and the rubber in the tyres finds all the grip it can to change the direction. There’s nothing wrong at all with the cornering — even coming into a cambered corner while braking heavily didn’t upset the Mini, which merely showed a slight antilock brake-induced chirp from the inside front as I began to turn in.

A car like the Mini Cooper S could be a better daily driver than a balls-out rally-inspired four-wheel drive like the Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. The WRX is in the same price range and, while more practical and faster, isn’t as stylish. The question would be whether you could ever make up your mind from the large number of options offered.

Price: from $43,900 (manual), or $46,900 (automatic). This car was fitted with an optional wheel and racing stripes package.

What we like

  • With the rear seats folded down there’s a surprising amount of room
  • Handling is spectacular
  • It brakes like a racing car
  • It’s still funky
  • Easy to drive around town

What we don’t like

  • Traction control struggles to reign in the front wheels’ tendency to want to spin
  • Some switches are a little too funky, making them difficult to operate
  • Will the Fiat 500 Abarth become more trendy?
  • Could get expensive when ticking that options list

New Cooper S Price
Manual $43,900

Automatic $46,900


Type (cylinders / valves) 4 / 16

Capacity (cc) 1598

Power output kW at rpm 128 / 5500

Max. torque (Nm) at rpm 240 @ 1,600

Length / Width / Height (mm) 3714 / 1683 / 1407

Luggage Capacities (m3) 0,160 – 0,680

Fuel capacity (litres) 50

0-100 km/h1 (seconds) 7.1

Maximum speed1 (km/h) 225

Fuel Consumption

Fuel Consumption / Range (ltr/100km / range) 6.9 (725) *


Brake dics, front (ventilated) and rear


Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – including EBV & Corner Braking Control (CBC)

Automatic Stability Control & Traction (ASC+T)

Driver and front passenger airbags & front side airbags plus pyrotechnic front seat belt tensioners

ISO fix child safetly seat attachment with front passenger air bag deactivation

Tyre defect indicator monitoring tyre pressure


Alloy wheels 6.5J x 16″ in 7-Fin styling (195/55 R 16 tyres) with run flat option

Heated exterior mirrors and washer jets

Front fog lamps

Remote central locking with deadlock facility and crash sensor


Air conditioning including cooled glovebox

Height adjustable driver’s & passengers seats with height adjustable seat belts

Interior lamp package includes map and vanity lights

Interior surfaces of facia in alloy look “Patina”

Leather-bound height adjustable steering wheel (3 spoke sports on Cooper S)

Stainless steel brake, clutch & acclerator pedal

Sports seat for driver & passenger

Upholstery, cloth flock velours Space

* Fuel consumption figures have been established using a test cycle procedure for exhaust emission calculation. Actual fuel consumption figures may differ from those achieved in the test procedure, depending on driving technique, road & traffic conditions, environmental factors and vehicle condition.

MINI Option List

Automatic (6 speed automatic transmission with electronic control)

Interior surfaces and handbrake lever with silver trim


Dynamic Stability Control (DSC III)

ITS head air bags for front passengers

Exterior mirror package (electrically foldable and heated)

Alloy wheels 6.5J x 16″ in 5 star styling Daytona (195/55 R 16 tyres) with run flat option

Alloy wheels 7J x 17″ in S spoke styling (205/45 R 17 tyres) with run flat option

Alloy wheels in “White”

Bonnet stripes “Black”

Bonnet stripes “White”

Chrome line exterior

Headlight washer system

Metallic paint

Mirror caps in body colour

Mirror caps chrome plated

Park distance control

Rain sensor & automatic dipping interior mirror

Roof & mirror caps in black

Roof in body colour

Roof, & mirror caps in white

Xenon headlamps high beam (incl headlamp washers)

Anti theft system

Automatic air conditioning with microfilter

Chrome line interior (chrome features to instruments bezels, cup holders,gearlever) Cockpit chrono package

CD changer 6 stack

Hi Fi speaker system “Harmon Kardon”

Headlining in anthracite

Interior surfaces in body colour, door frames, dash board and console struts

Interior surfaces in silver, door pull frames, pockets, console struts etc

Interior dashboard surfaces in Anthracite

Interior trim strips in high gloss myrtle wood trim

Mini Disc player in dash (replaces CD unit)

Multi-function for steering wheel with cruise control

Navigation system proffesional

Non-smoker kit (storage bins instead of ashtrays)

On board computer

Preparation for CD changer installation

Seat heating for front seats

Steering wheel wood 3 spoke

Sun protection glazing (tinted glass in rear windows and rear screen)

Sunroof glass electrically operated

Telephone preparation (incl aerial, cables etc for hands free operation excludes handset)

Upholstery, cloth / leather combination Satellite

Upholstery, leather “Gravity”

Upholstery, leather “Soft”

MINI tlc ( 5 Year / 80,000 kilometre Scheduled Servicing)

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Brad Lord

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