The entire MINI lineup is getting a second facelift, while the brand takes a bit more time to flesh out its future lineup. For the MINI mainstay, the Cooper S, the new facelift brings a few new exterior bits, some new interior bits but really not too much of consequence. But are the new bits enough to keep the MINI Cooper S competitive, among its newer rivals? Carwow recently found out.
As fun as the MINI Cooper S is to drive, it’s still a bit old. The current MINI as we know it dates back to 2014, which makes it seven years old and that’s downright ancient in today’s market. Especially when cars like the new Volkswagen Polo, Audi A1, and Peugeot 208 have been released since.
Up front, the newly facelifted MINI Cooper S gets some new black trim around the grille, redesigned front air intakes, and some sportier lips and what not, if you get the John Cooper Works package. However, it’s fundamentally the same car and unmistakable looking. Out back, it gets a slightly new rear diffuser and a bigger wing. Still, it looks like a current MINI. That’s not bad but it’s not really very new.
Inside, it gets some updates to the infotainment system, it gets the new digital instrument panel from the electric MINI Cooper SE, and some nice seats. But it’s still familiar MINI inside.
However, MINIs have always been more about their drive than their looks. Can the old-dog MINI Cooper S still outperform its rivals? In terms of handling and performance, it’s still fun to drive, still has good steering, and does still have a go-kart feel. But it’s relatively slow, hitting 60 mph in well over six seconds, and its braking performance leaves a lot to be desired.
While the MINI Cooper S is still a good car, Mat Watson can only recommend that you consider it among its rivals because there are some very good new cars in the segment that are probably worth a look first.