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Get to know MINI Cooper Classic Plus 2021


Kinda like Doc Martins or cryptocurrency, there is something a little bit special and rather alluring about this particular compact car. And while it is not an all-new model, the facelifted third-generation MINI does bring some attractive new features to keep it fresh.  But it's not cheap, which begs the question, are you just paying a premium for the retro design and that iconic badge? Let's find out.

The updated British roundabout is priced from  $37,500 and here we're testing the mid-range Classic Plus, which is a $41,000 proposition.  And would you believe there are 17 different? MINI hatch model grades now in three and five-door body styles, spanning the hard-core tire frying JCW models all the way to the Electric MINI. So what's new? Apart from the extra visual sizzle inside and out and more equipment, there are some weird model names like the MINI Yours, yes, Yours. They may as well have called the MINI DogeCoin TikTok edition. The latest MINI hatchback signature design remains punctuated by the circular headlights, but now they're full LED across the range.  This basically means you get stronger, brighter, wider nighttime vision. 

1The classic shape is unchanged, but there's a bigger grille upfront with extra color coding and a splash of chrome. The fog lights have been deleted and replaced by these vertical air intakes, which acclaim to improve aerodynamics. The Classic  Plus model gets these 17-inch alloy wheels and is available in seven different exterior colors, and this particular paint job is called Chilly Red. There's more color customizability now as well, like a two-tone roof and bonnet stripes, which don't cost extra. At the rear, you get LED  tail lights with this British flag insignia, and that used to be optional, but now it's standard across the range. Other changes include a new lower bumper here, and you get the shiny exhaust as well. All MINI Coopers, except the S, JCW, and Electric are powered by this 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and while torque and power levels are puny, it only has to hold around 1200 kilos.  

It's a light car. The front-wheel-drive hatch now also comes standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission called Steptronic in MINI speak, but a six-speed manual remained a no-cost option across the range. If you have never sat in a MINI before, be prepared for something a little different. It's extroverted and a bit left field. The circular theme, the weird switchgear, but I really like it. The steering wheel has been upgraded with new gloss black buttons, and there's a tasty new 5.5-inch digital instrument cluster. This model also gets sports seats with premium leatherette upholstery. In terms of comfort, they go alright but they are a little small. And for this price, I'd expect power-adjustable seats as well. 

All models now get a wireless phone charging pad under here, which is cool, but guess what, doesn't fit my jumbo iPhone, but this new 8.8-inch touch screen is pretty impressive and that comes standard across the range as well. It's surrounded by an LED halo, adding a little more visual drama, and there are new touch-sensitive favorite buttons as well, where you can just swipe your finger gently across them. But it's the super-sharp visuals that really steal the show and apart from a few cryptic icons, the menu system is pretty easy to decipher. Wireless Apple CarPlay works for iPhone users to simplify things even further, but there's no Android Auto,  whatsoever. Not cool, MINI, not cool. When it comes to safety, the MINI Cooper leaves a  little to be desired, missing out on some pretty useful safety equipment such as blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert. 

There is also no auto-hold function, which is weird considering there is an electric park brake. And it only has an ANCAP 4-star safety rating,  and that was back in 2014 when the regulations weren't as strict. Cabin storage is so-so with two reasonable cup holders down here, but very small door pockets. However, you've got USB A and  C ports, giving you a lot of charging options. This model also gets a panoramic sunroof and a high-end Harman Kardon sound system that is pretty impressive. And while the cabin design hasn't fundamentally changed since 2014, there's no denying the layout has loads of personality. Getting into the back seat is a little challenging. There's not a whole lot of space here and larger humans would not wanna be stuck here for extended periods. But to its credit, the seat comfort is surprisingly good. It's slim pickings for the poor souls unfortunate enough to be crammed into the back with no  USB ports and no air vents, with just a trio of cup holders to keep them company. 

There's no easy way to say this, the boot is tiny. Sure, you can get some grocery shopping in there,  maybe a pack of Tic Tacs but not much else. While there are no shopping bag hooks and no space-saver spare tire, there is a 12-volt socket, a little light, and four tie-down anchorages. Oh,  and this little hidden compartment down here. Righto. Time to cue the upbeat music, let's drive. Straight away, the MINI does a great job engaging its driver and the ultra direct steering plays a big role here. Simply put, you don't have to turn the wheel much to get this little puppy dancing. No changes have been made to the suspension,  so it's still very sporty and generates loads of grip without much body roll, but also remains stable and predictable. Just like a MINI should it handles really well, eagerly tucking into corners like a Labrador inhaling a meal, but the steering is also beautifully weighted and offers plenty of feels.

It's got poise, it's well balanced, and there's an overriding sense of solidity that makes this a satisfying car to zip around in either around town or in the twisties. The flip side of this sporty suspension is that ride comfort is not always amazing. It can be a little harsh and jarring over bigger cracks in the road, and the short wheelbase means there's plenty of pitching as well. But the three-cylinder turbo engine brings plenty of life to the party. It has loads of character and that uneven thrumming and honest mid-range turbo thrust, makes it a lot of fun to drive hard. Standing start acceleration to 100 kilometers an hour is far from rapid these days, and while a top speed is more impressive at over 200 kilometers an hour, if you wanna go quicker, you'll need to spring for the 2-liter Turbo Cooper S model.

The 7-speed dual-clutch auto is pretty good. It's brisk when you're in a hurry, but smooth and quiet when you're plotting along.  The only problem is there are no paddle shifters, which is a bit of a shame given this sporty setup, but you can change the gears manually with the auto gear stick down here. The engine can be a little coarse at times, but the car is generally smooth, refined, and generally quiet inside. It's impressive that even in these low-end models, these low power models, how good the car to-driver connection is. It's a lot of fun. Fuel economy is very good thanks to the small engine and savvy gearbox, but this three-door model has average visibility at the back, thanks to extra chunky C pillars.  Ownership costs are typical for a small European car, and you can pay upfront for a  competitive cap price service plan.  

But the three-year warranty is shorter than what many premium brands offer these days. Although question marks remain around its safety credentials, this update keeps the MINI feeling fresh and engaging. But at the end of the day,  you're gonna pay a fair price premium over some very competent mainstream small cars. But hey, if you've got a few Bitcoin lying around and you love the look, this is the car for you.


source: & mini