It has been an impressive journey, and one easily significant enough for successive British governments to fawn over.
But the Cooper S’s replacement is the harbinger of even deeper ambition, underpinned as it is by an all-new modular platform that will form the basis of not only a refreshed Mini line-up but also a new generation of front-drive BMWs - started by the third generation three-door hatch, this platform has already spawned a five-door hatch, the next generation Convertible, Clubman and Countryman, the second iteration of the BMW X1 and the 2 Series Active and Grand Tourers. The UKL platform has also allowed Mini to develop its first plug-in hybrid and will be the backbone to the first front-wheel drive 1 Series.
This extraordinarily expensive and complicated strategy will take years to play out completely and already has proven fairly successful thus far, but our core focus here is to see if this platform ensures that the hatchback – still very much the centre of its Mini universe – has been satisfactorily replaced.
The previous Cooper S was dinky, twitchy and tenacious, which was great when you were in the mood but wearisome when you weren’t. It embodied much of what the Mini stood for, so if its shortcomings – such as space, comfort and fit – have been addressed with its strengths preserved, BMW can consider the first hurdle in a bright future triumphantly cleared.