Big in stature

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong's Mini traditionalists might wonder whether BMW's 'little car from Oxford' is still little.

At April's Shanghai Auto Show, the marque presented a range of 10 models, including the four-door Mini Countryman and premium models such as the Mini Inspired by Goodwood and the quick John Cooper Works variant.

The Mini range is expected to expand further with the arrival 'by the end of the year' of the keenly awaited Mini Cooper Coupe, a local showroom spokesman says.

Touted as the marque's first two-seater sports car, the Coupe's Cooper, S and John Cooper Works models are aimed at 'keen drivers'.

The coupe retains the marque's traditional look, even though it is the first modern Mini to adopt the traditional 'three-box' body structure, of distinct segments for the engine compartment, cabin and boot.

The car's about the same size as the standard Mini, but slung 29mm lower and with a stepped rear, wrap-around glass and a 'helmet design' roof for a more aggressive look.

The dealer can't mention a price, but it should sell well in Mini-mad Hong Kong.

A rear spoiler has been fitted in the boot lid to 'improve aerodynamic balance and road grip', and maybe turn heads. The device automatically rises at 80km/h and drops at 59km/h.

The coupe's interior is unmistakably Mini with the marque's large central circular speedo and chrome toggle switches. Behind the seats is a 280-litre luggage area that is 20 litres larger than the Mini Clubman's.

The coupe's three petrol variants have 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engines promising various degrees of speed.

The basic Mini Cooper Coupe is 3.728 metres long on 15-inch wheels and a 122-horsepower engine. The S version is six millimetres longer and belts 184hp with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection on 16-inch wheels, while the 3.73-metre, top of the range John Cooper Works Coupe version has been tweaked to 211hp and tops at 238km/h via a six-speed manual or Steptronic gearbox and 'go-kart handling', the marque says.

It also hits 100km/h in about 6.5 seconds, half a second faster than the S and 2.5 seconds faster than the basic model, Mini says, all for 7.09 litres of petrol per 100km (39.8mpg) and only 165g of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre. The models are fitted with improved suspension, a host of safety electronics and the marque's MINIMALISM environmental technology, which features fuel-saving facilities such as brake energy regeneration, auto start/stop+, shift point display+ and electric power steering.

Given such electronics, the Mini Coupe might challenge the new Mercedes-Benz SLK in Shouson Hill.