Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Mini Cooper S Roadster

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Mini Cooper S Roadster

Article excerpt

THE MINI has been one of the motoring success stories of the last decade.

BMW's re-working of the Sixties classic hit the roads in 2001 - the year after the final original production model rolled off the production line at Longbridge - and was an instant hit with fans of the original and new converts alike.

In the last couple of years, however, the Germans have tinkered with the MINI and, it's fair to say, that some traditionalists still need convincing about the new directions.

The beefed-up SUV-style Countryman was the first deviation from the familiar and has now been joined by the two-seater Coupe and, under the spotlight here, the soft-top Roadster. When it arrived for my perusal, my neighbour Jim felt the need to express a view echoed by many.

"It took me a while to work out that it was a MINI," he said, adding: "I remember the original and I can't quite make up my mind about these new ones."

However, being that little bit younger than Jim, although I well remember Minis of old and am fully aware of the heritage, I do not have his emotional attachment and could take a more dispassionate view.

At least I could initially. But I defy anyone who loves driving to get behind the wheel of this sporty little drop-top and remain dispassionate for any length of time.

Driving this, you see, especially with the hood down, is just about as near as you can get to the adrenaline rush of karting.

Proper grown up karting, that is, the sort that set Lewis Hamilton on the road the Formula One fame and fortune and into the arms of a Pussycat Doll!

You're sitting low to the road, the engine is revving with an impressive growl, and the wind is blowing through your hair.

The 1.6-litre turbo engine generates some 184bhp, a veritable slingshot in a car of this diminutive size, and will fire you from standstill to 62mph in seven seconds dead and a top speed of 141mph.

This is the ultimate pocket rocket of a motor and, though the taut chassis results in a firm ride which can get jittery over some poorer road surfaces, it does mean that you can have some real fun. …

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