What is it?
A facelifted Mini may be due later this year, but BMW isn’t sitting on its hands. The current Cooper S has just been given a mild engine upgrade that not only yields a 10 per cent drop in CO2 but also generates a useful power hike, boosting output from 173bhp to 182bhp.
This revised 1.6-litre engine features a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and fully variable valve control. A more even torque spread means the S can now bag 62mph in 7.0sec dead, compared with 7.4sec previously. Economy improves from 45.6 to 48.7mpg, while CO2 emissions fall by an impressive 13g/km to 136g/km.
What's it like?
The outgoing Cooper S was hardly slow, but this latest version is noticeably brisker — so much so that you can feel the steering wheel writhing with torque under power or on uneven surfaces.
It’s a little unruly but mildly exciting. The engine has urgent throttle response and musters strong low-down grunt; you’ll probably not want for more go.
The Mini’s chassis doesn’t deliver the finesse of a Renaultsport Clio despite its nominally more sophisticated suspension, and the ride gets a bit turbulent on the same roads that generate torque steer. But despite these failings, this is a quick and entertaining car point to point.
Should I buy one?
Further upgrades are due in late summer when the Mini hatch gets a facelift – including minor styling changes and interior improvements. But this revised engine – superior to the one it replaces – is a useful step forward, making an excellent car even better.