Further evolution of Frank Stephenson’s 13-year-old design was inevitable, if not entirely successful. Crucially, this is a bigger car. Sly shunting of familiar proportions conceal it well, but the new Mini is 98mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller than before, and the Cooper S, with its appendages, is longer still.
And this new Mini is not any prettier. The elongated nose is fussy and the rear lights have swollen, yet, with the hexagonal grille, clamshell bonnet, floating roof and upright windscreen in place, it’s likely that a layman would miss such minor differences. Dig beneath the skin, however, and more obvious newness abounds. The new UKL platform adds 28mm to the Mini’s wheelbase and, flush with high-strength steel, explains this car’s greater rigidity.
Connected to it are MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, both of which have been revised to reduce weight and increase component stiffness while preserving kart-like handling in what is a larger car.
There is now the option of adaptive dampers. Dynamic Damper Control electronically adjusts rebound and compression damping, affording the Cooper S both Comfort and Sport settings.
There’s no mechanical locking diff, even for this 189bhp Cooper S, although it does get Performance Control, a further refinement of the Electronic Differential Lock Control system that applies the brake to a spinning inside wheel while redirecting torque to the opposite corner.
The industry’s appetite for downsizing has made an increase in cubic capacity an unusual occurrence, but BMW has applied all its latest tech to ensure that the new 2.0-litre round peg can be pushed into what has until now been a 1.6-litre square hole.
, direct fuel injection and variable camshaft control on both the intake and exhaust sides, develops 189bhp between 4700rpm and 6000rpm – a slight increase over its predecessor – and, more significantly, up to 221lb ft from 1250rpm via an overboost function. The same engine is tweaked further for the hotter John Cooper Works version which produces 221bhp.
As standard, the Cooper S's and JCW's big petrol motor, together with the Mini's line-up of 1.2 and 1.5-litre three-cylinder engines, is mated to a newly developed six-speed manual gearbox, but a six-speed auto is also available. It is worth noting that Mini is dropping the 1.2-litre petrol in the One for a de-tuned version of the Cooper's 1.5-litre unit. Overall the performance figures will remain the same and will be first seen in the limited edition 1499 GT - a homage to the 1275 GT. The rest of the three-door range is made up of three diesel variants - two 1.5-litre units and a 2.0-litre engine which powers the Cooper SD.