It’s a very hot evening when we meet all together in Pietrasanta. Lovely town of art, not far from the crowded beaches of Versilia, it offers an impeccable welcome to tourists who spent the entire day by the sea and are willing to relax having a drink in the beautiful Piazza Duomo. The car we’re waiting for, would be perfect itself to drive us among trendy clubs, looking for the most “ stylish” to have a spritz or a good prosecco, appearing so much young-looking and attractive. Fine features, but we are fair interested to them. Even more if the car in question is an icon of sporty driving, one of those cars that know how to give you fun when you are behind the wheel. I forgot to say that it is the Mini Cooper S!
We introduce ourselves to Simone, the owner of this terrific toy. Fun and crackling as the Cooper S’ central dual exhaust, he starts to tell us how happy is with his purchase. Simone explains the long list of accessories Mini. Despite being a S (the top version) the extras are many. Among the most important, we see the beautiful wheels 17 ‘, the headlights xenon, and the charming terracotta-colored leather interior that combines perfectly with the creamy white of the exteriors. And that are just for the happy hours.
Concerning the driving pleasure, there is the sporty set-up , the sport button and a mechanical limited slip differential, essential optional if you want to take full advantage of the 174 HP. A few months after the release of the new Mini we decided to write an article on the former because, in my opinion, many of the features that had remained intact since 2001, at least as feelings, are going to disappear. Larger, the current Mini is the size of a Polo, longer wheelbase of 3 cm, high HP engine in the S versions, and especially about 200 kg more.
These changes, certainly willing to meet the needs of a broader segment of buyers, they have also changed the original character of the Mini that now is not the fun toy it was, often uncomfortable, but simply the BMW entry level. A product, then, surely of the highest quality, putting aside some playful and irrational features that characterized the Mini to date, to compete with luxury cars that offer something extra in terms of practicality. To name one, the Audi A1.
Even when you get on a new Mini you feel that much has changed. The first shock is not to find the large speedometer in the centre of the dashboard. Okay, no one ever reads the speed on that sort of wall clock, who knows the Mini will read it on the small display embedded in the tachometer behind the wheel, but without it, there is something missing.
We find ourselves in a more austere atmosphere, dominated by the typical feeling of German quality but definitely lacking the strong personality to which the Mini we had used. In this photo shoot we want to carry on playing and we have chosen to put our lenses in front of a 2007 Cooper S.
Start button and go! We move towards the hills behind Pietrasanta, proceeding to gait tourist we can appreciate the comfortable leather seats and handling, and the nice windscreen pillars that are practically vertical, very retro and offer a good view of the surrounding road. The only fault that we find in this situation is the turning radius really too large.
From a compact car you would expect to turn on yourself, but no, you have to get carried away with a steering angle reduced. The road begins to meander and the Mini starts to rise as dynamic as few, with the sport button engaged, the throttle response is quick, the electric power steering reduces the assistance from the exhaust and out pops in release that put a smile on the lips of us big kids.
The first Mini, that was produced from 1959 to 2000, was famous for being a go kart road, direct steering and trim completely flat. This one too is no exception and offers those feelings that could give the first small Mini, an icon of British style of the 60es. The steering has the right load for sporty driving; the trim is flat and rolling almost non-existent. Attack the tight corners is a fun, short wheelbase and the limited slip differential make you forget the understeering.
If the nose tends to widen the path just slightly ease the pressure on the gas to get back a very reactive that realigns immediately, up to over steer if you insist on the release.
Going into turns fixated is easy to lift the inside rear giving a bit of show who is behind. The change from grafts short and precise it is pleasant to use, the gear ratio is rather short, the sixth gear is not rest, you can reach 223 km / h at 5900 rpm in sixth gear.
The engine is always ready then, only flaw is a high speed on the highway, where traveling at 130 km / h is around 3500 rpm. It ‘just that kind of wonderful engine that makes the difference between a normal and a Mini S. Developed by BMW in collaboration with the group Peugeot-Citroen and produced at the Hams Hall in England, is a great achievement of engineering.
Equipped with turbo (no more supercharger as in the previous series) dispenses 174 hp at 5500 rpm and a torque of 240 Nm at only 1600 rpm, thanks also to the system twin-scroll dividing the exhaust gases into two pipes, each for two cylinders, in order to have a better response at low engine speeds. These numbers are enough to fly a car of 3.70 meters and 1,050 kg, reaching 0-100 in just 7 seconds.
We arrive very fast in Capriglia, above Pietrasanta with a wonderful Belvedere embraces a sea view that goes from the coast of Viareggio to La Spezia. We stop here to photograph the details, the beautiful front air intake, dual chrome exhaust, the large speedometer, the countless scattered red S expertly on the body. Meanwhile, Marco and Edoardo hang around capturing all the details I start to chat with Simone, who tells me how much he loves his Mini.
He had different sport cars, he owned a Porsche Boxster S, a BMW Z4 3.0, far more famous and desirable cars. Although this, he doesn’t regret his choice, saying that the fun that gave him his Mini does not make him guilt of his “past loves.”
While Edoardo and Marco are in search of the perfect shot, time passes but you know, when passion dominates, the clock is forgotten.
By: Leonardo Stefani
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti