About twenty-five years ago, I had the pleasures of going down to Ferring on the Sussex coast to interview John Cooper.
Tom Scanlan remembers the good old Mini days while driving the Mini Cooper S Works 210
He told me over lunch in his office about how his father had started things off and how the great days of post-war motor racing culminated in the Formula One world championship won in a Cooper by Jack Brabham in 1959.
That same year came the original Alec Issigonis Mini, followed later by the faster Cooper and even hotter Cooper S versions, well, hotter by the standards of the time, of which track cars kept the Cooper name well to the fore amongst the sporty driving fraternity. And don’t let’s forget their outstanding Monte Carlo Rally success.
In those Beatles and Stones days, the Cooper S eventually had a 1275 cc engine that gave around 76 horse power and could reach the magic 60 mph in a mere 9.5 seconds, depending on axle ratios. With a following wind, the S might nearly reach 100 mph.
Today, it’s the Mini Cooper S Works 210. Not the full John Cooper Works, but only one step down and incorporating a few of the JC features, for example in aerodynamics. It has a 1998 cc engine now developing 210 BHP, up from the previous 196 BHP, and enabling the metric 60 mph, i.e. 62 mph, to be hit in a quite rapid 6.6 seconds.
The original Cooper S was huge fun in a little box. That box has long since grown into a sophisticated package that’s a lot heavier (1235 kg compared with 650 kg), so, nearly double the weight, but it is still huge fun.
Mini steering and handling has always been one of its hallmark selling points and, along with the super new engine development, it’s still all there for our entertainment.
The gear change? Maybe the newness of the test car was the reason, but it was notchier than I would have liked, particularly across the gate. The car’s mileage on the day that I tried it was just over the thousand-mile mark and so, with a lot more use, that slightly rough edge could get worn off those six manual speeds.
Along with the rapid performance, you have a snarling exhaust as the needle flashes round to the red line. This is one of the intoxicating features of the latest 210 (the original 210 arrived as long ago as 2004). It is in fact, along with the engine’s John Cooper Works Pro Tuning kit, a dealer-fitted John Cooper after-sales product. At the double-press of the Bluetooth controller (used also if and when you take to the track…GOOD IDEA!), you get the full deep throat. When you, unfortunately, have to slow down, powerful braking is, in a strange way, also an exhilarating experience.
Yes, you pays your money and you gets your fun!
Oh, of course, nearly forgot, you get a few standard goodies like 17-inch alloy wheels, but the generous SatNav screen and connectivity is in the £1400 optional media pack. The classy interior is what it is, while the test car’s Chili pack turns the car into a very sophisticated vehicle for a further £2000.
Add on £1695 for the all-important dealer-fitted Works 220 Enhanced Kit and, in the case of the test car that had further options, that makes £27,580. How times have changed.
Car reviewed: Mini Cooper S Works 210 – Base Price On the road £22,755, price as tested £27,580 0-60mph 6.8 secs Top speed 146mph limited Fuel Economy combined 48.7mpg CO2 emissions 136g/km Engine 1998cc 4-cylinder EU6 petrol Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Transmission 6-speed manual
Huge driving fun
Sophisticated and well equipped
Powerful and exhilarating
Can be expensive, easy on the options
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