MINI-ficent road trip

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, August 25, 2017

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SATURDAY'S sweltering heat did little to sap the enthusiasm of the 70 guests who showed up for the inaugural MINI Summer Adventure Retreat at under-construction showroom on Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew.

The destination — rustic Rose Hill in Portland via Stony Hill and back.

For the mission, I was 'paired' with a 2017 three-door MINI Hatch Cooper aptly labelled 'Bolt'.

At a glance, the 'Hatchback' may give subtle cues of its temperament, and not in an offensive way. It packs a big punch. Based on the classic MINI design, the new MINI Cooper boasts new features such as LED headlights. With an easily recognisable design and flashy paint schemes, it makes a statement wherever you go.

Its luggage compartment is a spacious 211 litres. But fold the back seat down and it expands further to a whopping 731 litres —large enough for anything you can throw in it.

On the inside, the vehicle is light with wonderful visibility all around. Its gauges are crystal clear, and the infotainment system, designed to mimic the original's iconic circular speedometer, is easily controlled from a rotary knob and steering-mounted buttons. Cruise control, volume control and compression braking buttons decorate the multifunctional steering. Leather trim is dotted about and cannot be missed on the steering wheel that fits nimbly into hand.

The functionality is complemented with a colour 8.8-inch screen within the instrument cluster accompanying the Professional MINI navigational system and which now offers the innovative touch-screen function.

With keys tucked away in your pocket, getting the sub-compact car going is a breeze. Just press the Start/Stop switch and the MINI Cooper is up and running, awaiting the master's next command. Its responsive three-cylinder, six-speed automatic, 1.5-litre twin power turbo engine reaches a power of 136 hp with a maximum of 220 Nm. The Cooper easily clocks 0 to 100 km/h in 7.8secs and reaches a top speed of 210 km/h. And given the MINI's low centre of gravity, it corners very well. It made light work of the meandering Stony Hill roads en route to our final destination.

Coming to a halt in Corporate Area traffic jams, the MINI Cooper's engine switches off and conserves on fuel. A slight touch of the acceleration pedal and its ready again. Average fuel economy is 60.1 mpg.

The MINI Cooper is ideal for urban areas as well as off-the-beaten path routes. Its adaptive suspension springs into action on the not-so-smooth roads, making potholes almost non-existent.

Arriving at Rose Hill, guests enjoyed board games as well taking a dip in the river.

The occasion also marked the birthday of incoming ATL Automotive Group GM Mike Ellenthorpe, who used the opportunity to meet and greet MINI enthusiasts as well as prospective owners.

“Today is going to be a great day,” said.

And indeed it was.

By evening, guests were treated to popcorn and a movie... you guessed it, the MINI flick The Italian Job (1969).




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