2015 MINI Cooper S 5-door: Icon still in touch with its inner brat

IMG_0030It’s not surprising to learn that in the late 1950s, Sir Alec Issigonis was inspired by the words of aviator and novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “If anything at all, perfection is finally attained not where there is no longer anything to add, but when there is nothing more to attain.”

Saint-Exupéry went on to write his beloved novella “The Little Prince,” and Sir Alec went on to design the original Mini. Perfection, indeed.

Generations later, Sir Alec’s iconic design endures. It was revived in 2001 by BMW to an impatient public, which has kept snapping up the versatile and high-spirited car ever since.

I share a birthday with Sir Alec (November 18), and have always adored the MINI. So it was only a matter of time before I found myself in the irreverent gaze of a 2015 MINI Cooper S 5-door. It seemed that the minimalist runabout of the 60s had finally grown up! While there was no mistaking the puckish shape, there was something almost refined and gracious in the silhouette.

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Inside, the MINI was all urbane black leather, and lots of shiny silver brightwork. Chunky toggle switches sprouted out of the dash and the roof, snapping shut with a meaty thwack. Vintage looking door handles, and the rounded contours of the centre console controls were a nod to the MINI’s legacy.

My lithe and leggy passenger enjoyed the seat extensions supporting her legs, which are made for not-so-MINI folks. In fact, the MINI was not unlike a Tardis, with so much more space inside than you’d expect.

And putting the pedal to the metal prompted a lusty response from the 4-cylinder, 189 horsepower engine. The MINI had obviously never met a corner it didn’t love, and hugged the corners around swanky neighbourhoods, down sinuous thoroughfares, and finally, onto the highway. As I swung through the gears, the MINI smoothly sprang forward, sweetly leaning left and right, like some thrilling visceral extension of my arm.

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On the round centre console, an LED light blinked in different colours, as if to match my mood. With the MINI Connected app, I could enhance the infotainment system to my heart’s content – and I did. From a gay German dance station to an oldies soul station in Tokyo, and smooth jazz tunes in Finland, the possibilities were endless. I could even spell out a keyword on the control, and tried in vain to find an all-Streisand station – maybe in Pago Pago? No matter, the MINI attended to my every quixotic musical impulse.

Finally, it was time for the car show event of the season – Micro Car North, held by Ralph and Wendy Hough at their lovely home near Orillia. On their vast expanse of lawn, every year microcar enthusiasts from all over the continent gather with their tiny wheeled wonders.

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When I rolled in with the MINI, for the first time, I could proudly take my place on the front lawn. While I’ve attended the show in years past, usually I skulk to the back, since I’m driving anything but a microcar. Even so, it could be argued that the MINI was well over the 850 cc displacement limit!

Right away, Peter Svilans toddled over with his tiny black chihuahua, Lucy, to check out the MINI. I’ve noticed that a disproportionate number of microcar owners seem to favour microdogs. We chatted about the changes in the new MINI, and all the different variations. Which have always been the case – in the old days, the legacy Mini was produced as the Austin 7 Countryman, the Clubman, and even the military Moke.

But it was with the deft racing touch of John Cooper, that the Mini established the performance pedigree that is inherent in every MINI today. And it was on the back country roads of Orillia, that I cut loose and gave the MINI full reign. Confident and committed, the MINI smoked up knolls and kicked down gulleys, digging into the curves with gusto.

The MINI may have grown up, but it’s still in touch with its inner brat.

Sir Alec would be proud.

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21 Comments on "2015 MINI Cooper S 5-door: Icon still in touch with its inner brat"

  1. Ken Dowell July 1, 2015 at 3:00 am · Reply

    Nice looking car. Although I when I look at the picture from Micro Car North my first impression is that you all were going to play bumper cars on the lawn.

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 3, 2015 at 2:50 am · Reply

      Yup, Ken, it’s a very sharp looking car, and incredibly responsive. And the microcars all have so much personality, you just never know what’s going to happen next!

  2. Jacqueline Gum July 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm · Reply

    That picture is hysterical… I share Ken’s view…looks like a bumper car game in the making. I see the Mini all the time here in Charleston. We have skinny streets and limited parking, so it makes sense. I’m giving some thought to getting one myself! It’s good to know that they have some get up and go!

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 3, 2015 at 2:48 am · Reply

      The microcars are adorable and fun, and a bunch of them together inspire no end of mischief! Jacqui, if you want to add a MINI to your collection, you’ll be blown by the pep and handling. The parking in Toronto is dire and getting worse, so thank goodness for the MINI – I could fit anywhere!

  3. Donna Janke July 2, 2015 at 3:05 pm · Reply

    The Mini Cooper has always held some appeal to me, although I have never driven one. I agree the 2015 version looks refined. I didn’t know there were micro car shows. It would be fun to attend one.

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 3, 2015 at 2:45 am · Reply

      Everyone loves the MINI! Especially since its redesign, it appeals to so many demographics. I can totally see you in a MINI! As for the microcar shows, they’re usually just held in the summer – although there are a couple of indoor collections. Always a good time!

  4. Patricia Weber July 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm · Reply

    Krystyna you have way too much fun! My son had one of these until – he grew a family! But he swears, someday he will be back in one. Those microcars are too funny looking – sorry. Keep driving and sharing these picture stories with us!

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 3, 2015 at 2:43 am · Reply

      That’s awesome that your son had a MINI – but you know these days, they come in so many different iterations. You could totally fit a family into a Countryman, I’m sure! And the microcars are sweet and funny, which is why I love them so much.

  5. Susan cooper July 2, 2015 at 8:11 pm · Reply

    I love these cars. Been thinking I should go buy one since they are named after me… Susan Cooper’s Cooper. Lol. Think I need a little red and black one that looks a little bit like a lady bug. That would suit me just right I think. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 3, 2015 at 2:42 am · Reply

      Haha, Susan, of course that would be perfect! And you know they let you customize the MINI in so many different ways, I’m sure you could work in some ladybug dots. And you’d have to get a Cooper S, to totally own that moniker!

  6. William Rusho July 3, 2015 at 3:38 am · Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. This is a vehicle I have looked at getting. It does look like a lot of fun to drive. I am 6 ft 275. so I have always been hesitant to try it out.

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 7, 2015 at 1:19 am · Reply

      William, you shouldn’t have any issue, the MINI is VERY roomy inside, lots of headroom and legroom. Mine had these ingenious seat extenders on the driver and passenger seat, to support those of us with longer legs. Treat yourself and go for a spin!

  7. Marquita Herald July 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm · Reply

    Fascinating, and I have to echo Ken’s comments about the bumper cars because that’s what popped into my mind. I used to love small cars, my first love was a Triumph Spitfire. Then I went into sales and got my first company car which was a SUV because we road warriors spent half our lives traveling. I was hooked and still am. That said, I love the back story and can appreciate the benefits of owning one of these little gems.

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 7, 2015 at 1:17 am · Reply

      Oh, the Spitfire! Those were such cool cars. I see the odd one around town, and at car shows, they had such a streamlined shape. Maybe one day, you’ll have a fun little car again. Small cars = huge fun!

  8. Beth Niebuhr July 3, 2015 at 2:51 pm · Reply

    I’ve wondered how those little cars are to drive. I love that they have an “inner brat.” Great way of making that point.

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 7, 2015 at 1:14 am · Reply

      The MINI was always renowned for its handling, Beth, and even though it is all grown up, it can still get into mischief with the best of them!

  9. Jeri July 3, 2015 at 3:32 pm · Reply

    I need no convincing on how fun and great a car a Mini Cooper is. I would definitely love to call one my own someday and have two friends who drive one and they just LOVE them to death 😉

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 7, 2015 at 1:12 am · Reply

      Jeri, I knew the MINI would be fun but I was surprised with how practical and spacious it was as well. Of course, I’m not surprised that your friends love their MINIs to death!!

  10. Erica July 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm · Reply

    I have a mini, and, of course, a micro-dog. I live in an urban area where parking is impossible. I swear there are times when I’ve parallel parked in a row with 3 or 4 minis. They are so popular here. And I absolutely love it. Before my mini, parking was truly a nightmare.

    • Krystyna Lagowski July 7, 2015 at 1:11 am · Reply

      Yes, parking is like butter with the MINI! I couldn’t believe the places I could squeeze into, with practically no effort. And I’ll bet your little guy loves to come along for the ride …

  11. Lily Lau July 9, 2015 at 10:44 pm · Reply

    If only I… aw, I love this car.

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