Saturday, November 18, 2017

(Used) Devon test drives a Mini

2009 Mini Hatch (R56) Cooper hatchback (26610582445).jpg

Likes: Fantastic handling, distinct styling, more fun to drive than most small cars, peppy range of engines.

Dislikes: Options send price sky high, boot space is limited, some controls are confusing to operate.

Performance: There's three engines available with the Cooper. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 120hp, and two turbocharged 1.6-liter engines with 181hp and 208hp. The pick of the bunch is the 1.6-liter 120hp engine. Its not the most powerful of the bunch, but it offers a good blend of value and fuel economy.

Ride & Handling: Whichever version you go for, the Mini is tons of fun to drive. It's great on twisty roads and thanks to the go-kart handling and well weighted steering. Around town the Mini is easy to drive, there's a firm ride but its never choppy or uncomfortable.

Refinement: There's a bit of wind noise at highway speeds. The Mini also lets in a bit too much road noise than desired, but its never intrusive. The petrol engines are smooth and well refined, even when worked hard. The gearshift is slick, but the reverse gear is too easily selected when shifting to first.

Behind the wheel: Driver's will get comfy with a wide range of adjustments for both the steering wheel and seat. The dash is a bit too busy, with the large central speedo and awkwardly placed stereo and heater controls. The retro toggle switches put style above ease of use.

Space & Practicality: There's plenty of headroom and legroom for those in the front. Rear passengers have so-so head and legroom. The door opening is low and narrow, this makes getting in and out of the Mini a chore. The boot is small, but the seats fold 50/50 for more space.

Equipment: The Cooper comes well equipped for the money. Air-conditioning, push button start, electric windows, mirrors and central locking are all standard. The Cooper S adds sporty bodywork and sports seats. However, the options list is extensive but you may want to watch what you select. A few too many options will sent the price sky high.

Buying & Owning: It's not cheap, and don't even think about discounts! However, the Mini holds on to your investments well. No other car in its class holds its value as well. Your fuel bills will be decent, and a warranty to cover oil changes and other maintenance is offered standard.

Quality & Reliability: The Mini has a premium image, with many parts and trim looking the part. The Mini has scored well in customer satisfaction surveys done by JD Power. Reliability should prove dependable.

Safety & Security: The Mini has a five-star safety rating on all models. Every trim has side curtian airbags and ISOFIX child seat mountings, and importantly ESP is standard across the range. The Mini has most security parts that make BMWs hard to steal.

It's retro, with a splash of sport and performance. You get a road hugging small car that holds its value well. It's no wonder the Mini is the best selling small car in the U.S. Stay clear of the options list, and you'll have a great valued small car well worth the money.

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