Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mini with a turbo-4 is a rocket ride

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaWhen the days of an outgoing model year come down to a precious few, the restless auto reviewer starts to ponder what he/she missed along the way.

Which is why I jumped at an offer to get some brief seat time in the 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door hatchback.  Even better, this model goes into 2016 virtually unchanged.

It had been awhile since I’d been in a Mini.  I missed the neck-snapping scoot off the line, the darn-near-ridiculous handling efficiency and the high-pitched buzz of a turbocharged engine.

The tested Mini had all that in spades, even with four doors.

The exterior styling is decidedly Euro and sporty.  Folks can spot a Mini product from a mile away, and yet, it still draws admiring stares from passersby.  I think that might be the definitive test for long-term styling success.

Inside the cabin, controls are wrapped around the driver in a considerate manner, which also is Euro to the max.  Driving a Mini is like a visit overseas.  Honest, you start talking with an English accent after you’ve been in the car for even a short amount of time.

The best part comes from putting the Mini through its paces.  The tester came with the 2-liter, four-cylinder turbo power plant rated just shy of 200 horsepower.  This particular power source in this particular car pretty much turns the vehicle into a rocket.

I bolted from standing starts and zipped through interstate traffic like a freeway fool, but it was all entirely enjoyable, and felt rock-solid safe.  Steering response on the tester was remarkably instant, and yet the suspension was tuned in such a way that at no time did I feel that I was lurching the car from spot to spot.  Keep in mind that this is a front-driver.  Sport-tuned well, you ask?  Sweet as honey.

The starting cost for this behind-the-wheel enjoyment is an entirely reasonable $25,100, a number uncharged for the 2016 model year.  The 2016 model year fuel mileage ratings were a decent 23 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Mini has been making stops at auto shows worldwide, saying it wants to redefine the premium small-car market with its Hardtop 4 Door offerings, and with a new auto show season coming up this fall, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of the same.

I wouldn't say that Mini is redefining the premium small-car sector … More like refining it, in my view.  By stuffing its stylish, sporty offerings with generous perks and keeping the horsepower curve relatively high, these Minis are giving buyers plentiful reasons to check them out.

I’m not sure that you can ask anything more from a car manufacturer.

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