Mini Cooper hatch/cabrio

Improved tech; better ’boxes

BARRY PARK

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

THE FIRST major revamp of the gen-F56 Mini delivers the brand’s most connected small car yet, adopting BMW’s ID5 generation of its Connected Services technology to allow owners to monitor and control their car via a smartphone app.

The range is simplified – the entry-level Ray is gone – while the Cooper-badged three-door and five-door hatches, and the Mini Cooper Cabrio gain a host of cosmetic tweaks inside and out, and a small improvement in fuel efficiency thanks to engine revisions and transmission changes. There’s a new split cooling system for the head that helps with warm-up and cuts weight by up to 8kg, and a new crankshaft that cuts another 1kg.

The old six-speed automatics are out, with the Cooper and Cooper S introducing a seven-speed Getrag dual-clutch auto, and the range-topping JCW adding the same eight-speed torque converter as used in the Clubman and Countryman.

These powertrain changes trim fuel consumption to meet tighter Euro emissions regulations, but the new gearboxes also change the way the cars drive. The jump to a seven-speed dual-clutch makes the base Cooper more liveable, while it adds an element of excitement to the more hi-po Cooper S.

The other bits and pieces – adaptive LED headlights and Union Jack tail-lamps for every model from the Cooper S up, a touchscreen interface for the first time – are just fiddling at the fringes.

BARRY PARK