Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motoring: MINI Adds That Magic Touch

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motoring: MINI Adds That Magic Touch

Article excerpt

Byline: By Bill McCarthy

TWO things guarantee female attention on the street - puppies and newborn babies.

You can add a third to the list, the MINI Cooper S Convertible, because female colleagues and friends and even female strangers insisted on stroking the canvas top and going ga ga at the chic leather-filled interior of this range-topping model.

The MINI is an iconic car that turns heads, for both sexes, particularly this super quick, snazzy version that demands attention. At more than pounds 20,000 for this range topper, it is the least you would expect.

Double chrome exhausts, bonnet-mounted air intake, chrome door handles, huge grey spoked 17-inch alloy wheels and unusual retro tan leather seats, steering wheel, door covers and gear stick, certainly make a statement.

Designers have added leather or silver trim where there is no room for any more chrome and they have retained the trademark central speedo and the central electric controls.

It's bursting with toys and a superb spec level that includes run-flat tyres.

The comprehensive spec list goes on and on, but a taster includes air conditioning, full electrics, CD player, sport seats, sports suspension, and chromeplated roll bars (on display when the roof is down and practical as well as good looking).

The electrically operated two-stage roof is easy to operate and folds back in just 15 seconds. Because it does not completely fold away into the boot, you don't lose any of that precious space and the first stage gives you an open sunroof effect.

The drive is where the fun really begins. Even Mini boasts that its handling is more like driving a kart.

It's fun, rewarding, and easy to drive. The steering is so weighty that it almost hurts to make car park manoeuvres.

Acceleration is ferocious and the 1.6-litre powerplant demands high revs.

The low weight and supercharger means it will still pull in third and even fourth gear of the six at your disposal.

Handling, cornering and responsiveness are superb, but having said that, it can potter along very comfortably and when the canvas roof is up (as it was most of the time) it is relatively quiet and comfortable. …

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