Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Anyone wondering exactly how much difference an extra 18bhp and 15lb ft makes to the Cooper S’s full-power acceleration may be a touch disappointed by what follows.

The weather was grey and greasy, albeit not technically raining, on the day of our test – and it was both warmer and dryer, three years ago, on the day we tested Mini’s F56-generation Cooper S.

Chassis gives you the confidence to snap out of the accelerator on the way into quicker bends and giggle as the car rotates beneath you

No surprises, then, that the Works 210 proved a few tenths of a second slower from rest to 60mph than our benchmark for the standard Cooper S – and very slightly slower, too, from 30mph to 70mph through the gears.

You can see the performance gain that the Works 210 delivers elsewhere in our test figures, though.

The new Mini needed 0.5sec less than the standard Cooper S to reach 100mph in spite of its weather-related poorer start; it was consistently quicker than its cheaper range-mate running in gear through the higher reaches of the rev range; and it was a few tenths quicker than the Cooper S when accelerating through every 20mph increment from 60mph to 120mph.

That’s enough to suggest that, had we been testing in like-for-like conditions, we’d have seen clockings a couple of tenths better for every main performance measure, and that would have been enough to put this car in among the quickest hot superminis on sale right now.

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There’s a subjective improvement, too. The Works 210 seems to rev particularly keenly above 5000rpm and so has a better-balanced and more useful operating rev range than plenty of torque-centric four-cylinder turbo motors. It has a taut, short, well-defined manual gearshift, too, and a well-tuned brake pedal with plenty of progressive feel.

However, the car’s added pace is as nothing compared to the difference made to its audible charm by that active exhaust.

Double-press the system’s Bluetooth remote control and this Mini’s vocals are transformed from zesty yet moderate to decidedly demonstrative and naughty.

At times – particularly when the exhaust is hot after a long, hard drive – the Works 210 sounds like a beat-boxing cyborg with a talent for pyrotechnics.

The engine note riffs and growls with a synthesised, digital virtuosity when you feather the accelerator, and subsequently pops and crackles with antisocial menace on the overrun.

So this Mini isn’t just loud: it’s also characterful, dramatic and interesting to listen to.