The Mini Hatch received an update and I got to check it out at a media event in Johannesburg last week. It is a facelift of the Cooper and Cooper S that I drove around the urban jungle, to get a real feel for the car in an environment it is most suited. I currently drive the Mini Cooper S from 2015. I drove were the 3-door variant, however, the models that received a makeover included the 3 door, 5 door, and convertible.

Mini changes

There were some huge improvements compared to my car, which in comparison feels a bit dated. One of the most telling updates is a multi-tone roof, a new front design with LED lights being standard, side scuttles that’s freshly designed and Union Jack lights are standard along with a redesigned rear. As expected, there are new colours, and redesigned interiors, including air outlets, steering wheel, and 5″ instrument display.

The latter is similar to what we’ve seen on the electric Cooper SE. It also has an 8.8″ infotainment display with refreshed software. Additional cosmetic changes include sport seats in a checkered design and ambient light option.

A more ‘under the hood’ update includes an adaptive chassis with a frequency-selective damping, electric parking brake for the first time, active cruise control with Stop & Go, lane departure waring and a bad weather light.

The derivatives 

The Cooper 3-door hatch has an output of 100kW and 220Nm of torque with a top speed of 210km/h and goes from 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds. The Cooper S 3-door hatch has an output of 141kW and 280Nm of torque (same as mine) with a top speed of 235km/h and goes from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds.

The drive

I drove the Cooper first and the Cooper S second, which was what I preferred as the latter was my preference and wanted to end off that way. It is still a fun car to drive and the three modes: eco, normal and sport give it different feels depending on how you want to drive. I love putting my foot down a bit (haha) and enjoying zipping around with sport mode engaged, through my driving partner Ernest Page did have fun switching it to Eco mode while I was behind the wheel.

I loved the interiors; the lighting and LED finishes. The Lounge and Sport modes light up differently, and it’s still red when Sport mode is active, giving you that go-kart feel. The lounge mode is blue, but the eco mode doesn’t change the colour to green, just green on the instrument cluster. The laser engraved ring also lights up in those colours, which looks cool.

The car from an interior perspective feels modern, like an update to my car. I like the instrument cluster that took a leaf from the Cooper SE, it’s all uniform now. However, the controls on the steering wheel feel a bit too flat, I do prefer the more “3D” or rounded ones on mine; they have more shape.

For me, the bottom line of driving a Mini is that it’s always a fun experience with the Cooper S delivering that extra power when you need it to zip around while overtaking etc. While I don’t think it’s something for me to upgrade to (waiting for the next-gen Cooper SE), I think it’s special enough for an intro to Mini for anyone else looking for a ‘hot hatch’.

Mini is still a car where you get a basic model and need to buy packages to add more levels of comfort. I didn’t like that the Cooper model we drove first didn’t have navigation. It’s something I’m used to and like using in the background and alas, when connecting your phone to it, there was no CarPlay/Android Auto either.

Pricing for all models

Mini One (3 door) – R 420 000
Mini One (5 door) – R 430 000
Mini Cooper (3 door) – R 469 500
Mini Cooper S (3 door) – R 530 000
Mini Cooper (5 door) – R 479 500
Mini Cooper S (5 door) – R 540 000
John Cooper Works – R615 000

Connected Navigation – R 15 600
Multi-tone Roof – R 13 500
Pano Sun Roof – R12 200

The Mini Cooper is all about customisation and the fun of it picking what you want and making it “individual” to you. Mini also said in their presentation that the Mini driver is all types from different walks of life, each one unique in their own way. This is exactly what driving a Mini is; it is unique in its own way.