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A superb car, with precise german engineering, the Mini Cooper S, in my opinion is one of the most loved Hatcbacks in the world. With heavy, but precise steering to accuratly take on even the tightest corner and a heavy clutch/gearbox which gives the feel of being in a little racer. I myself have driven and owned a large number of cars including Aston Martins Lotus Elises and Lambourghini's. The Cooper S is comfortably in my top 10 cars I've ever driven. Every drive is a fun drive, a new experience each and every time. The blissful sound of the super charger wine with its low centre of gravity creates the perfect experience for the person who is looking for a thrill from driving, but has a small budget. This is a perfect opportunity to snap up a second hand Cooper S with relatively low mileage for arond 4-7K.
However despite the postives there are a number of negatives. Despite the power the 1.6 Supercharged engine has to offer, the car is too heavy. Many of the BMW fittings weigh a significant amount, the potential of the car is not matched by what the specifications say. If you are looking to purchase one for track day use, simple and inexpensive ways of increasing its power, such as an air induction kit, low profile tyres and straight through exhause system improve its performance dramatically, i should no, i did this myself with Janspeed. The other aspect which i feel BMW could improve on is the Traction Control, in first gear, giving the car high revs at an everyday scenario such as pulling out at a roundabout, the traction control steps in to limit the high revs to reduce the wheel spin, however it does affect the speed at which you accelerate quite dramatically.
Overall i believe despite the car being too heavy, it is the perfect hatchback, better than the Fiat 500 Abarth and the Renault Clio Sport