The Mini Cooper S is known as the British equivalent of the Golf GTI but is the new one still as good as ever? We were invited by BMW and Mini dealer Meerschman to give it a go at their first rally.

A few weeks ago we were asked by Mini Meerschman to join them for their first rally, they told us we they would be giving us a Mini to drive along so naturally we said yes and headed to Aalst.

Let’s Mini

The Mini Cooper S is powered by a 2.0L four cilinder engine producing 192 hp and 300 Nm’s of torque. It revs very smoothly and gives off a lot of torque low down meaning you’ll see the traction control light blinking from time to time. Engine note is very nice considering its size, maybe just a little too quiet for a sporty car but there’s 0 drone in the car keeping it enjoyable on longer trips. Thanks to the massive torque and low weight of only 1255 kg’s the little Mini Cooper S really flies and doesn’t really feel like its slowing down on higher speeds either.

The chassis is a major leap forward in terms of overall useability. Where the latest generation’s chassis was just insanely hard, this one is refreshingly comfortable. It’s well dampened but still feels how a sporty Mini should feel. Earlier Mini’s always felt like gokarts and I’m delighted to say that this one still does. Swinging it around a corner is effortless and thanks to the electronic locking differential, the car pulls itself out of corners. There’s zero to none understeer. Even on tight and twisty roads the little Mini Cooper S pulls itself around the bend like it’s on rails.

The only downside was the gearbox. There’s 3 option: manual, automatic or sport-automatic. And this one was fitted with the regular automatic. I’d recommend opting for either a manual or a sport-automatic because from time to time it felt like it was lost in what gear it needs to be. And with no paddles behind the steering wheel to choose what gear you want to be in the only other option is to manually pull and push the gear lever.

Patriotic at its best

Although Mini is now owned by BMW, a german manufacturer. It doesn’t mean that Mini still likes to remind you about its British roots. The car is filled with British flags with the most obvious ones (and arguably the coolest too) being the rear tail lights. The Union Jack can also be found on the dashboard, the seats, headrests,… Most of them are really subtly implemented into the car but the one on the passenger dashboard that lights up is a bit too tacky for my taste.

In the interior , Mini has gone for a bigger cool-factor in terms of design. Lots of fancy switches to push up and down on the dashboard gives off a really cool and special vibe. Seats are very nice and comfortable while giving plenty of support during cornering. The steering wheel is nice and thick which probably has to do with a certain German manufacturer that is very good at making nice steering wheels. 

The infotainment system is touch screen operated these days and makes it easy to navigate through the menus. Luckily because it seems as the structure of the infotainment has surpassed the old BMW selector sitting way down bellow between the driver and passenger. As with the rest of the interior, the infotainment also features certain bells and whistles like small animations showing you engine and oil temperatures to check if the car is ready to rock.

First Mini Rally

It was Mini Meerschman’s first rally they organised. We got there early in the morning where we were greeted to a nice and plentiful breakfast. After breakfast we got a drivers meeting and the keys to the Mini Cooper S. We went out for a rally that was set out in the beautiful Flemish Ardennes. The roads took us through some amazing sceneries. After a short sandwich break we went back out on twisty backroads where the Mini Cooper S really showed its potential. After the 180 km long route we were welcomed in an abbandoned factory for a BBQ dinner and afterparty.
Congratulations to everyone who organised and supported the event during the day. It was great to see a first time event so well executed!

Again many thanks to Mini Meerschman for lending the car to us. The route was great and we’re looking forward to your next event!