Mini's new model opens the doors to new drivers

AFP
First Published: 16:14 IST(5/6/2014)
Last Updated: 16:24 IST(5/6/2014)
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The latest addition to the Mini family keeps the standard car's lines, proportions and go-kart handling, yet manages to add two more doors and more luggage and passenger space.

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And that's because the new model, which is being called the Mini 5, is 161mm longer and 11mm taller than the standard Mini. But though it's grown, it's still surprisingly compact, even if there is now room for three rear-seat passengers.

Although it's now in its third generation (and each generation of the car has grown by a few millmeters here and there) the standard Mini's rear seats can be a bit of a token gesture, fine for two children and just about ok for adults with no other choice, but for the most part they serve as an expanded luggage space.

And there's room in the back for three passengers. Photo:AFP

Until recently, Mini had little if any true competition in the premium compact car market, save for the equally miniscule Fiat 500. However, thanks to the Audi A1, things have been shaken up considerably, and Mini's parent company, BMW, has duly taken note.

That's why as well as room for adults as rear-seat passengers, the trunk's capacity has also been increased by 67 liters to a class-leading 278 liters. There are also a couple of clever space-optimizing tricks such as being able to split the rear seats or lay them flat, thanks to a false trunk floor panel.

As well as extra space, the new Mini is offered with the same four engine choices -- two petrol and two diesel units -- and four trim/specification levels -- Cooper; Cooper D; Cooper S; and Cooper SD -- as its three-door counterpart.

Yet it still behaves like the standard, three-door Mini. Photo:AFP

However, to ensure that it's just as rewarding to drive, the suspension set-up has been overhauled and a host of technological handling aids, including Dynamic Stability Control, are available as options on the Cooper models and as standard on the Cooper S and Cooper SD.

Infotainment and digital driver aids have come a long way since the Mini had the market to itself and buyers of the new car can choose a head up display, parking assistant, a rear-view camera and smart cruise control among a host of options.

And of course there's an internet-connected entertainment and safety system -- Mini Connected -- that can summon the emergency services in a crash or offer driver-safe versions of a host of apps including navigation and social media.


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