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MINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition (2019) review: 3.5/5

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MINI celebrates its diamond jubilee with a special edition Cooper S. Is it more than just a paint-and-stickers job, though?

Neil Briscoe

Words: - @neilmbriscoe

Published on: May 14, 2019

Words: - @neilmbriscoe

Published on: May 14, 2019

Tech Specs

Model testedMINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition (note, the Cooper model is pictured)
Pricing€41,995 as tested; MINI starts at €21,629
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmissionseven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylethree-door hatchback
CO2 emissions127g/km (Band B1 - €270 per annum)
Combined economy43.5mpg (6.4 litres/100km)
Top speed235km/h
0-100km/h6.7 seconds
Power192hp at 4,700rpm
Torque280Nm at 1,250-4,000rpm
Boot space211 litres
SafetyEuro NCAP rating for MINI

It's a shame that MINI hasn't seen fit to delve more into the Cooper S's mechanical package for this limited edition, but the 60 Years car remains fun and frolicsome, if also seriously expensive.

In the Metal:

Even 60 years on, it's not entirely possible to suppress a grin when you spot a fully tricked-out MINI such as this. Yes, the size of the car has become incredibly distended compared to its long-ago progenitor, and yes you can easily accuse it of being both self-consciously retro and rather over-styled in some areas. Still, though, it's hard not to love, and that's especially true of this 60 Years Edition Cooper S. A lot of that love goes straight to the paint, a new variation on MINI's British Racing Green that has an utterly gorgeous lustre to it, and which is set off rather nicely by a black roof, black bonnet stripes (with a 60 Years logo on one stripe), LED spot lamps (styled so that they look a little like old-school Cibies) and some gorgeous 17-inch alloy wheels.

Pop the door and you'll find that the 60 Years model has basically all of the equipment you could possibly need, including Navigation Plus, which comes with the largest 8.8-inch touch display (which still looks odd - a rectangular screen stuck into the round hole where the speedo once sat), Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, concierge service and wireless charging. There's also a rear-view camera, folding exterior mirrors and front and rear Park Distance Control (PDC). You also get, if you want them, the 'Union Flag' LED rear lights, although those are a delete option in Ireland.

On top of all that, there are the most sumptuous, wonderfully comfortable, 'Dark Cacao' brown leather seats in the front (there's a matching bench seat behind) and a sense of quality that not too many rivals can match. 

Mechanically, there are no changes at all, and that's where a touch of disappointment creeps in. The same 192hp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, the same automatic transmission, the same everything. It seems a shame that MINI couldn't have done something a bit more dramatic for an anniversary that, after all, not many brands nor models reach.


Driving it:

The fact that it's all very familiar shouldn't distract you from a seriously engaging driving experience, though. The fact that the original MINI was fun to drive was a by-product of its light, simple construction and its wheel-at-each-corner stance. This MINI has been, conversely, specifically engineered to be fun and sporty, and yet the spirit of the original is so clearly in there, even if you must dig for it a bit.

Accelerate hard and, while the Cooper S doesn't have the grunt to seriously push you back in the seat, it's certainly brisk enough, and you surge forward on a series of whip-crack changes from the auto gearbox (I'd prefer the more involving manual, though) and a fruity fart from the exhaust. No overrun pops and bang, this time, though - the rigours of passing the new WLTP emissions test means those have been deleted from the engine management system's memory.

The steering is a little rubberier in feel than on previous generations of BMW's MINI, but it still has decent feedback, and the sheer amount of grip that the front end can generate still has the power to surprise. If you like late braking and a late apex, this is the car for you. Turn in and accelerate hard and there's pretty much no corner that the MINI won't pull through with brio. It's enormously enjoyable.

The ride quality, on those lovely 17-inch wheels, is uncompromising though. It's well-damped, but very, very firm and occasionally bouncy around town. Tyre roar is another serious issue - on concrete motorway surfaces it's close to deafening, which is a shame as the MINI is surprisingly comfy as a long-haul driver. There's even a little more space in the back seats than you might remember, although the boot remains tight.



What you get for your Money:

There's no getting away from it - this 60 Years Edition is seriously over-priced. OK, so there will only be 500 of them made for the UK and Ireland, and that gorgeous green paint is unique to this model for the time being, but it's €41,995 on the road, when a standard Cooper S will set you back €29,747 with identical performance and handling. Sure, the 60 Years Edition is loaded with kit, but look at it this way - you could get a more powerful 230hp John Cooper Works model for around €1,000 less...

On the upside, MINIs, even a Cooper S, are usually affordable to run, and the inclusive servicing pack is a positive bargain and a must-buy for those keen on keeping their MINI in good order. 

Summary

The hefty price tag makes this 60 Years Edition MINI one for the collectors and the MINI completists alone. It is fantastically good fun to drive, well-made and great looking, but you could say all of that about a much cheaper standard Cooper S, couldn't you? Still, considering how few cars manage to hit the big 6-0, maybe we can forgive MINI the indulgence.



Alternatives

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Peugeot 208 GTi vs. MINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition (2019): up for replacement soon but still a whole heap of fun, and refined with it. An underrated hot hatch.
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Volkswagen Golf GTI 230 vs. MINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition (2019): bigger, faster, more practical, more comfortable and the same price.