SINGAPORE — Ah, the Mini. The very name conjures an iconic image and evokes universal sentiments for car enthusiasts: quirky, unique, hip and delightful.
Or, as a member of my family exclaimed, “The Mr Bean car!”
To be honest, the Mini Cooper S 60 Years Edition – which commemorates its existence in various forms since 1959 – is a far cry from the tiny Mini that became such a huge symbol of British popular culture, immortalised by films such as “The Italian Job” and, of course, Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling comic character.
Nonetheless, it is a celebration of resilience, of the small car that could. Surviving several changes in ownership, the Mini continues to be an eye candy on the road, and a sturdy performer for any kind of car user.
Certainly, in this social media age, it has remained eminently Instagrammable. The 60 Years Edition – manufactured only in 2019 – boasts so many exceptional aesthetic touches that, even before I drove it for the first time, I was already busy clicking away on my mobile phone camera.
Painted in a delectable British Racing Green, the exterior will definitely attract lookers at any hipster joint you frequent. When I parked it outside a cafe, I spied on it while having my cafe latte inside, and sure enough, heads were turned and phones were whipped out among the passers-by.
But it is the subtleties that will excite the car’s owner. I was thrilled when a “60 Years” logo materialised as an LED light projection on the ground upon opening or closing the driver’s door – befitting of the car’s quirky delights.
The logo appears in a more traditional livery form on the left-hand bonnet stripe, as well as on the side scuttles of the turn indicators. Another nice touch is the Union Jack design on the LED rear lights, and rounding off the limited-edition look are exclusive 17-inch grey light-alloy wheels with burnished-spokes design.
The joyfulness is not limited to the car’s exterior. Sit inside on its leather sports seats, and you will be struck by how comfortable it feels. The circular central touchscreen is quick, reactive and easy to navigate, and you can also use it to connect to useful digital services such as Real-Time Traffic Information and Apple CarPlay.
But all these aesthetic and ergonomic flourishes would be moot if this Mini does not evoke an effortless “cool” while driving – the ultimate test of hipness in this day and age.
Happily, it does not disappoint. Step on the accelerator pedal, and it surges forward with a growl that is strong enough to satisfy any speed demon.
More impressively, steering is beautifully balanced and precise, befitting of its trademark “go-kart” feel. And acceleration is so smooth that you will be surprised at how easily you can reach 100kmh.
With such a stress-free drive, I did get a sense of inflated confidence and coolness while cruising with the Cooper S under any condition, rain or shine. It makes for a great car to bring family and friends on joyrides to be seen around town.
For those picky ones, they may quibble that this 60 Years Edition does not break any new grounds from the current production model; it is basically a straightforward paint-and-stickers special edition.
On the other hand, this is a limited-edition version of the second-most influential car model of the 20th century (after the Ford Model T, which is the first affordable car ever produced).
The paints and stickers are like a constant reminder of the Mini’s legacy while driving, and that’s not a bad thing at all for such an automobile icon.
Specifications (Mini Cooper S 5-Doors 60 Years Edition)
Engine: 1,998cc, 16-valves, inline-four, turbocharged
Power: 192hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 280Nm at 1,350-4,600rpm
0-100km/hr: 7.1 seconds
Top Speed: 230kmh
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch
Fuel Consumption: 5.7 litres/100km
VES Band: B (No rebate/surcharge)
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