New 2018 MINI Models: First drive of the latest Cooper S Hatch and Convertible

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As Groucho Marx once said: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” And it seems bananas that the modern MINI landed as far back as 2001.

Since BMW relaunched the beloved British brand, there have been a ton of variants, such as the Countryman and Paceman, but the basic hatchback design has merely been refined. The 2018 Hatch and Convertible follow that trend, while also being more customisable than ever.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new 2018 MINI models – including how they drive.

What’s new?

For starters, the Hatch (3-door and 5-door) and Convertible heading to the UK have both been given new LED front and rear lights as standard. The rear clusters are the talking point, though, with a half-Union Jack design that will probably sit very well with the patriotic Italian Job crowd.

Much more subtle is the redesigned MINI logo, which has been stripped back to a simpler shape. Me like.

Infotainment has also had an overhaul. The Navigation pack includes a 6.5-inch display with satnav and Apple CarPlay, while the Navigation Plus package includes a new 8.8-inch touchscreen, real-time traffic info for the satnav, and wireless phone charging.

Just as important, but entirely invisible unless you get your socket set out, is the option of a new dual-clutch seven-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox.

New colours

Yes, there are fresh paint shades for 2018. The new MINI colours on offer are Emerald Grey metallic, Starlight Blue metallic and Solaris Orange metallic.

More customisable than ever

Owners of classic Minis have always indulged in making their cars unique, and that trend’s not been ignored by the MINI brand. There are options galore.

The MINI Yours Customised service even includes 3D printed parts, laser engraving and LED projection, so you can display your name or the name of your car in a choice of different places. Just configure it all via the online shop.

Feeling patriotic? To complement those new rear lights, how about an illuminated Union Jack dash, and even a Union Jack hood for your Convertible? Yeah, it’s maybe going a bit Full Brexit, but the choice is there.

For 2018, MINI has evolved the popular Pepper and Chili option packs. A rear parking distance control (PDC) has been added to the Pepper Pack, and the Chili Pack adds extras including 17-inch light alloy wheels, cloth and leather upholstery, a sports steering wheel and a Sport button.

The new Piano Black Exterior option enables you to have the surrounds of the headlights, rear lights and radiator grille all finished in high-gloss black instead of chrome.

Lastly, the 17-inch ‘Roulette’ and ‘Propeller’ alloys are now available for the 2018 MINI Hatch and Convertible, along with a new ‘Rail’ two-tone wheel.

2018 MINI price and launch date

The following are all OTR prices. These new 2018 models are all on sale now. (*** Note : £1 = $1.40)

3-Door Hatch
Model Manual Auto
MINI One £15,900.00 £17,280.00
MINI Cooper £17,340.00 £18,720.00
MINI Cooper D £18,470.00 £19,850.00
MINI Cooper S £20,630.00 £22,290.00
MINI John Cooper Works £24,430.00 £26,090.00
5-Door Hatch
Model Manual Auto
MINI One £16,600.00 £17,980.00
MINI Cooper £18,040.00 £19,420.00
MINI Cooper D £19,170.00 £20,570.00
MINI Cooper S £21,330.00 £22,990.00
Convertible
Model Manual Auto
MINI Cooper £19,790.00 £21,190.00
MINI Cooper S £23,830.00 £25,490.00
MINI John Cooper Works £28,030.00 £29,430.00

And here’s how they drive…

It’s been over a decade since I first drove a modern MINI – and I’ve had a soft spot for them that still lingers.

While many lovers of the classic British Mini were enraged by this new pretender for not being particularly mini(ature), and for being built by BMW, I was with the other crowd who loved the clear nods to Sir Alec Issigonis’ iconic 1959 design, the charmingly characterful interior touches, and road-stickiness that made it a ton of fun to throw around corners at speed.

Fast forward to 2018 and what’s changed? The answer is: not much. And that’s no bad thing.

Hurtling first around the winding mountain roads of Majorca in the Cooper S Convertible with the new dual-clutch automatic gearbox, there was that same incredible grip and stability you get from a car with its wheels pushed right out to the four corners, on firm suspension to keep it lithe rather than lurching.

The Cooper S has always been the model to choose, and that supercharged engine is more responsive than ever. Pop it into Sport mode and listen to a symphony of exhaust crackle and pop – this car sounds as fun as it drives.

The new auto ‘box is super-smooth too, tip-toeing up and down its range with ease. The car I drove only had manual shift on the stick, which always seems a bit pointless to me, but I’m told paddle shifters will be standard on UK automatic cars – great if you want a more involving driving experience.

Even after all these years, this is still a great fun car to drive. Stepping into a Cooper S 3-door Hatch with the standard six-speed manual box felt just as familiar. (Apart from it being a left-hand-drive manual, of course, and me burning the clutch a treat when accidentally pulling across for second gear instead of pushing straight down because right hands shouldn’t be anywhere near a gearstick goddamnit.)

Personally, however, I find the visual design of these cars to be more confused than they used to be. Those love-or-loathe Union Jack rear lights really should be an option rather than standard, while the new touchscreen is a jarring letterbox rectangle within a round bezel – a round screen next time, please.

But I still love the retro flick-switches, distinctive air vents and all those other little touches that are unmistakably MINI.

Although I might disagree with MINI’s appraisal of the 2018 aesthetics being “stylishly refined”, I can’t deny that I still love driving these things. The MINI is still sure-footed enough to compete with the best hot-hatches, and the Cooper S remains a rip-snorting hoot to chuck around.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/B5zhgR)

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