Further evolution of Frank Stephenson’s 13-year-old design was inevitable, if not entirely successful. Crucially, this is a bigger car. Sly shunting of familiar proportions conceal it well, but the new Mini is 98mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller than before, and the Cooper S, with its appendages, is longer still.
And this new Mini is not any prettier. The elongated nose is fussy and the rear lights have swollen, yet, with the hexagonal grille, clamshell bonnet, floating roof and upright windscreen in place, it’s likely that a layman would miss such minor differences. Dig beneath the skin, however, and more obvious newness abounds. The new UKL platform adds 28mm to the Mini’s wheelbase and, flush with high-strength steel, explains this car’s greater rigidity.
Connected to it are MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, both of which have been revised to reduce weight and increase component stiffness while preserving kart-like handling in what is a larger car.
There is now the option of adaptive dampers. Dynamic Damper Control electronically adjusts rebound and compression damping, affording the Cooper S both Comfort and Sport settings.