The new MINI Cooper S has a number of attractive qualities, but it all begins with the platform's long wheelbase combined with wide tracks, short overhangs and a low center of gravity. Add sporty and direct steering and a responsive manual gearbox mated to a supercharged powerplant, and the result is a car that's pure fun to drive. With its responsive engine, a specially tuned suspension and body details exclusive to this top model, the MINI Cooper S lives up to what is expected of its famous name.
The driving force beneath the curved front hood of the new model comes from a Brazilian-built four-cylinder power unit displacing 1.6 liters. The compact 16-valve engine features supercharger and intercooler technologies for an output of 163 bhp at 6000 rpm and maximum torque of 155 lb-ft (210 Nm) at 4000 rpm. It enables the MINI Cooper S to accelerate from 50 to 85 mph in fourth gear in just 6.9 sec., with the car requiring only 8.7 sec. for the same exercise in fifth gear. Acceleration from 0 to 62 mph comes in a respectable 7.4 sec.; top speed is 135 mph.
The deep, rumbling sound from this top model matches the sporting elegance of the car's styling. This discreet sound is attributable to an increase in the exhaust pipe diameter, a resonator integrated into the intermediate silencer, and the intake sound produced by the supercharger.
As is the case with all MINI models, the multi-link rear axle (unique in this segment) contributes decisively to the agility and handling prowess on winding roads. Reinforced anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles, an even firmer spring and shock set-up, direct electrohydraulic power steering, a low center of gravity, long wheelbase and widened tracks provide a unique driving experience. The agile suspension of the MINI Cooper S is rounded off by standard 16-in. light-alloy wheels running on 195/55R16 all-season tires. As an option, the top-of-the-range MINI may also be fitted with 205/45R17 tires running on 17-in. "S-Lite" light-alloy wheels.
To keep its power and performance under control even in extreme situations, the MINI Cooper S comes standard with all-wheel disc brakes (front ventilated), ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC). Excellent traction qualities, based on the favorable weight distribution, are further enhanced by the standard ASC+T traction control. DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) is also available as an option. The MINI Cooper S is the only car in its class to feature standard runflat tires and a low-pressure warning system.
With its strong passenger cell and the extensive restraint system consisting of, among other aspects, two front airbags and two side airbags integrated into the front seats, the MINI also sets standards in terms of passenger safety. An optional head protection system offers occupants both front and rear maximum protection in the event of a side collision.
The letter "S," resembling a series of bends in the road, on the side grille and rear logo indicates this is a special model. As the top of the range, the MINI Cooper S is distinguished from the MINI One and MINI Cooper by its air intake scoop in the front lid, bumpers in body color, side sills and slats in the radiator grille. From the side, the S can be spotted by the chrome-plated side grille with an integrated "S," the chrome-plated fuel tank filler flap, the white directional indicators and the 16-in. light-alloy wheels in "X-Lite" design. From behind, a discreet roof spoiler, two chrome-plated tailpipes as well as the "Cooper S" logo on the rear lid show that this MINI is something special.
The S is available in eight exterior colors, two of which are exclusive to this top model: Electric Blue metallic and Dark Silver metallic. The roof and the electrically operated exterior mirrors are finished in white or black.
The unique design language is borne out by high-quality textiles, surfaces and leather touches exclusive to the MINI Cooper S. The surfaces of the instrument panel and door panels in the aluminum look form a match with the door trim in Panther Black or Magnesium Grey and the black or blue carpets. Plus, the upholstery on the sports seats that come as standard is exclusive to the new model. As an option, the seats are available in a combination of cloth and leather or full leather.
Such beautifully finished details as the leather-covered steering wheel and shift lever knob, aluminum doorsill strips bearing the "MINI Cooper S" logo and footrest in stainless steel accentuate the premium touches found in this top-of-the-range model.
The standard equipment list is extensive and includes a height-adjustable steering wheel, central locking with remote control, electric window lifts and exterior mirrors and a discreet rear spoiler.
A wide choice of options and special equipment is also available. The list extends from a navigation system with a 16:9 color display to an electric panorama sunroof to a Harman/Kardon audio system, a multifunction steering wheel and Park Distance Control.
The basis for the MINI Cooper S's supercharged engine-a 1.6-liter four with 16-valve cylinder head, has already proved itself in the MINI One and the MINI Cooper. Johannes Guggenmos, head of the team responsible for the design of the MINI Cooper S's drivetrain, explained, "The fact that our top-performance power unit is based on the engine concept of the MINI One proves the robustness and efficiency of our design."
The most powerful model in the MINI range features a mechanically driven supercharger and an intercooler. At 6000 rpm, the transverse engine develops an impressive specific output of as much as 100 bhp per liter of capacity.
One of the challenges facing the designers and engineers was to integrate the engine and all other units such as the supercharger, the intercooler and the six-speed gearbox into the engine bay, where there was little space available as it was. The team responsible for the development, which was made up of designers and engineers from Munich, Oxford, Auburn Hills, from the engine factory in Brazil as well as partners working for MINI's suppliers, did a brilliant job.
The engine comes with one overhead camshaft, incorporating a maintenance-free timing chain and four valves per cylinder as well as roller-type rocker arms acting on hydraulic valve-play compensation units. The transmission, the air compressor and-if fitted-the air conditioning compressor are flange-mounted to the engine block, made of gray-cast iron, and the oil sump. The water pump is directly driven by the air compressor via a reduction gear. Drive power for the ancillary components is provided by a Poly V-belt. The reduction in noise emitted by the drive unit is the basis for the production of a sporting engine sound. A vibration absorber makes sure the belt drive is running quietly, and the use of a two-mass flywheel reduces the unwanted "toothing" noises. This technology is normally offered only in cars in higher segments of the market.
Bore and stroke of the MINI Cooper S's engine are exactly the same as on the MINI One and the MINI Cooper. Because of the increased thermal and mechanical loads on the supercharged power unit, the crankshaft, connecting rod, pistons, engine slide bearings and valves have been specially modified for this model. In addition, a heat exchanger for the oil/water as well as splash oil cooling of the pistons provide for well-balanced thermal conditions in the engine.
The supercharger, which is a Roots blower incorporating two rotary pistons working in opposite directions, compresses the intake air to a maximum overpressure of 0.8 bar. Since the air warms up in this compression process, it is then cooled by an intercooler before entering the combustion chambers, thus ensuring a significant increase in engine charge. The intercooler is provided with fresh air via the air intake on the engine lid.
As supercharged power units are prone to engine knock, the compression has been reduced from 10.6:1 on the MINI Cooper to 8.3:1. Moreover, the knock sensor of the active knock control constantly monitors the combustion process. Active knock control allows the engine to run on unleaded fuel with an octane rating between 91 and 98. This, in turn, allows the same engine set-up in all markets the world over, regardless of the fuel grades and qualities available.
The exhaust system has also been tailored specifically to the S engine. The engineers wanted a discreet yet sonorous sound with a low frequency that corresponds to the model's performance. Among other things, this deep, rumbling tone is attributable to the resonator integrated into the intermediate silencer of the exhaust system. Its air volume stimulates the generation of vibrations, which generate the sonorous sound. The respective capacities chosen for the intermediate and rear silencers, and the pipe's length and cross section in combination with the special interior design of the silencers, have a decisive influence on the sound both inside and outside. In addition, the supercharger is laid out to produce a pleasant intake sound that lets the driver anticipate the forthcoming development of power.
Driven by a Poly V-belt, the compressor, unlike an exhaust turbocharger, does not have the usual time-lag in its response, but rather builds up torque progressively until peaking at 155 lb-ft (210 Nm) at 4000 rpm. Benefiting from drive-by-wire technology, the unit uses an electronic system instead of a conventional gas cable to operate the throttle butterfly, thus making the engine extremely responsive to the actuation of the gas pedal.
This arrangement, in conjunction with an unladen weight of 2,513 lb (1,140 kg), gives the nimble four-seater a level of performance otherwise offered mainly by the most dynamic cars in higher segments of the market. The combination of fast acceleration, high top speed and superior torque is crucial to the driving pleasure offered by this powerful car, which is a genuine performer even in tight bends. The "beefy" engine delivers 80% of the maximum torque between 2000 and 6500 rpm.
Like the other two MINI models, the MINI Cooper S meets all government emission standards. In countries that enable the owner to profit from tax benefits, the engine fulfills the EU 4 exhaust standards. The MINI engine is one of the few engines in the market not requiring injection of secondary air or recirculation of exhaust gases in order to comply with these stringent obligations.
Fuel consumption of the powerful MINI averages 33.6 mpg or 8.4 liters/100 km in the European composite test, a very moderate figure considering the power of the engine.
New Six-Speed Transmission
Specially for the S, the engineers developed a six-speed manual gearbox, thus giving the MINI Cooper S a special position in the small-car segment.
Due to the limited space available beneath the engine, the engineers decided to use a most sophisticated transmission featuring three shafts, otherwise only found on much more expensive cars. The equally sophisticated dual-cone gearshift control provides for smooth, quick and ultra-precise shifting.
Whenever the driver shifts gears, the corresponding commands are transmitted to the gearbox via Bowden cables. A maintenance-free, hydraulic clutch cuts off the power flow during the shifting process.
The transmission is designed to allow the MINI Cooper S to reach its top speed of 135 mph in fifth gear. The gear ratio of the sixth gear has been reduced in order to lower the engine's speed and consumption on long-distance journeys.
As is also the case with other automobiles, the intervals between the engine services depend on how you drive the car. The service interval indicator on the dashboard informs the driver reliably when the engine has to be serviced next. In order to reduce the cost of owning a MINI Cooper S to a minimum, the few wearing parts have an increased lifecycle.
Suspension and Steering
Agility and direct handling is one of the great strengths shared by all models within the MINI line-up. Dr. Heinrich Petra, head of the MINI project team, described the feeling he got when he drove the MINI Cooper S: "Thanks to the very direct steering, the MINI Cooper S's response to the driver's steering maneuvers is quick. The car is virtually looking forward to every bend on the road and behaves as if it were running on rails. If there weren't any twisting roads, they would have to be invented for the MINI Cooper S. The car offers driving pleasure at its best on both twisting roads as well as long, fast highways."
Dr. Petra went on, "With standard Sports PLUS suspension, our new MINI model perfectly matches the increased performance and is tailored even more directly to the requirements of the dedicated motorist. Reinforced anti-roll bars on both axles and firmer springs ensure superior performance and driving characteristics also when driving fast."
The new interpretation of the original from the sixties, takes up the concept of the transverse engine with the gearbox fitted beneath the engine. With its very low centre of gravity and the starter battery fitted at the rear instead of in the engine bay, the car's weight distribution is 63 percent on the front wheels and 37 percent on the rear wheels, which is a highly respectable figure considering the MINI is a front-wheel-drive car. The excellent weight distribution is one of the reasons for the excellent traction and outstanding driving characteristics of the MINI Cooper S.
The MINI's MacPherson front suspension offers lower weight and a compact package and was therefore the optimum choice. A reinforced stabilizer bar and the very direct steering provide go-kart-like handling and driving pleasure. The electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion steering (EHPAS) is laid out to reduce the movement of the steering wheel to just 2.5 turns from lock to lock, ensuring a most spontaneous response of the car even to small movements of the steering wheel, giving the driver an excellent feel for the steering when driving the MINI Cooper S on twisting roads.
The power steering is electrohydraulic. This means that the hydraulic pump is driven by a small electric motor. Conventional power steering systems, however, use pumps constantly driven by the engine. Whereas the pump in conventional systems generates pressure even if no power assistance is necessary, the steering pump in the MINI operates independently of the power unit, thus working most efficiently. The pump builds up pressure only if power assistance is required. Compared with conventional hydraulic steering systems, therefore, EHPAS steering helps to reduce fuel consumption.
The MINI Cooper S' drivetrain has been optimized by an additional driveshaft bearing bolted on to the engine block. The use of equal-length axle shafts prevents an asymmetric feedback of power and unpleasant load change reactions on the steering wheel when driving fast on twisting roads.
Moreover, the MINI Cooper S comes with ASC+T traction control, which the driver can switch off whenever desired. ASC+T ensures that the sufficiently available power is conveyed safely to the road at all times. DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) is also available as an option.
The S's sophisticated multi-arm rear axle is a unique configuration in this segment of the market. In its geometry, it works to keep the wheels at an optimum angle on the road, giving the tires full road contact at all times irrespective of the road curvature. Thus the rear axle design is crucial to the nimble performer's agility, excellent handling and neutral behavior.
A further advantage is that the multi-arm rear axle allows very good use of the space available and provides a luggage compartment with a low floor and large distance between the dampers.
Passive and Active Safety
Gerald Schick, in charge of passenger safety, commented, "When we developed the MINI models, top priority was given to a high level of safety. We definitely reached this goal as the MINI Cooper S' safety concept sets standards in the small car segment. With its extremely strong and resistant passenger cell, intelligent frontal airbags, pyrotechnic belt tensioners, belt force limiters, side airbags and the optional Head Protection System, the MINI Cooper S offers the very best in occupant safety."
Schick continued, "Special attention has also been paid to active safety. In order to ensure safe handling under extreme conditions, the MINI comes as standard with ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and ASC+T anti-slip and traction control, which can be deactivated by the driver. DSC Dynamic Stability Control is available as an option."
The top model is fitted with internal expanding clutch-type disc brakes on all four wheels, with the front discs vented. The disc diameter is 276mm at the front and 259mm at the rear.
EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) controls the distribution of brake forces between the front and rear wheels, allowing optimum use of the rear brakes, irrespective of how heavy the car is loaded, and without exceeding the friction limit. EBD cuts in automatically long before ABS interacts and cannot be deactivated by the driver.
The MINI Cooper S also comes with CBC (Cornering Brake Control). In order to prevent the car from becoming unstable as a result of a variation in load on the wheels when applying the brakes while cornering, CBC cuts in and provides stability by building up varying brake pressure on each wheel on both sides of the vehicle accordingly. If the driver applies the brakes, say, in a series of fast bends, the car may oversteer even under low brake pressure irrespective of the type of drive. Applying a special computer simulation model, CBC is able to determine lateral acceleration from the signals emitted by the ABS sensors. CBC "sees" that the brakes are applied in a bend and builds up brake pressure accordingly, faster on the front outer wheel than on the other wheels. This counteracts any inclination of the car to spin around.
ASC+T traction control, which can be deactivated by the driver, prevents the front wheels from spinning and keeps the car reliably on course. ASC+T keeps the driver in control of the MINI Cooper S even when the wheels have varying grip, preventing the wheels from locking should there be a sudden change in the road surface and its frictional coefficient.
DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) is also available as an option. DSC prevents the car from swerving out of control under adverse conditions through automatic brake application to individual wheels and intervention in the engine control.
How does DSC work? In addition to the ABS speed sensors on the wheels, DSC uses further systems to monitor the brake pressure (determining in this way whether and how the driver is applying the brakes), the steering wheel lock (in order to determine the direction chosen by the driver) and lateral acceleration acting on the car. DSC is therefore in a position to detect the driver's intentions and the current motion of the car, sensing whether the vehicle is deviating critically from the desired direction of travel. It intervenes by varying the brake forces acting on the individual wheels and changing engine torque without requiring any action from the driver.
In this way the system counteracts unstable driving conditions possibly caused by accelerating, applying the brakes, driving around bends or suddenly experiencing a change in load-that is, conditions which may lead to over- or understeering.
When oversteering, the rear end of the car tends to swerve out. The DSC control unit counteracts this behavior by applying the brake on the outer front wheel. If the driver is already braking himself, the computer increases brake pressure on this wheel and reduces pressure on the wheels facing the inside of the bend.
When understeering, the car has a tendency to bear straight forward toward the end of the bend. In order to prevent this, the DSC control unit applies the brake on the inner rear wheel. If the driver has already initiated the braking process himself, brake pressure on the inner wheel is increased, while at the same time brake pressure on the outer wheels is reduced.
The MINI Cooper S is the first car in its segment fitted as standard with so-called runflat tires with emergency running properties and a Runflat Indicator.
Runflat tires do away with the need to change tires on the spot in case of a puncture and allow the driver to continue the journey to the nearest garage. The runflat tires' reinforced side walls and heat-resistant rubber compounds prevent the flat tire from being compressed, jumping off the rim or rubbing at the sides until catching fire. Maintaining a careful style of motoring and a speed of not more than 50 mph or 80 km/h, the driver of the MINI Cooper S can continue for up to 90 miles or 150 kilometers on the road without any pressure in the tires.
ABS, traction control or Dynamic Stability Control remain fully operative if the tires suffer a loss of pressure. The runflat indicator fitted as standard enables the driver to respond to a loss in pressure before the tire is damaged or any kind of danger can arise.
The runflat indicator works according to the following principle: When subject to a loss of pressure, the tire changes its roll radius, its circumference changing accordingly. This, in turn, means that the wheel will rotate at a higher speed. The system measures wheel speed by means of the ABS sensors, comparing the wheels diagonally together with their average speed and thus recognizing any loss of pressure. The indicator then warns the driver by means of a lamp in the speedometer, telling him that pressure in one of the tires is decreasing.
The MINI also sets standards in terms of passive safety, which is based on the body structure that has to absorb as much energy as possible on the one hand, but should be very rigid on the other hand.
The MINI's body stiffness is two to three times greater than on comparable models. The advantages resulting from this are obvious: The acoustics inside the car are enhanced by the reduction in the body vibration. Moreover, the extreme torsional stiffness of the bodyshell ensures excellent handling at all times even with a sporting style of motoring and on bad roads. Last but not least, the passenger cell is extremely resistant, an important prerequisite for effective passenger protection.
In its actual crash behavior, the MINI Cooper S again sets new standards. Body components absorbing energy in the event of an impact have been developed according to BMW Group principles. Numerous virtual and real crash tests were carried out to test and optimize the materials used, the connections as well as the location of the aggregates. The engine fitted crosswise as well as the front axle taking up energy passed on through the floorpan ensure optimum performance in a crash. Wide, energy-absorbing zones prevent objects from intruding the footwells.
The MINI Cooper S comes as standard with four airbags. An effective passenger protection is ensured by the precise interaction between the airbags and the belt system. The two frontal airbags inflate according to the severity of an accident, interacting with the pyrotechnic belt tensioners and belt force limiters, thus keeping the maximum strain and the risk of injury to a minimum. The two side airbags are concealed in the outer upholstery on the front seats, protecting the driver and front passenger from thorax injury in case of a side impact.
The MINI Cooper S comes as an option with a head protection system (AHPS = Advanced Head Protection System) offering occupants both front and rear maximum protection from head injury and is housed within the roof lining along the side frame. In the event of a collision, the head protection system extends between the head of the occupant and the side panel from the A- to the C-pillars in a fraction of a second. The tubular structure, which has an additional canvas covering, protects the head effectively from forces and objects intruding from the side. All airbags are controlled by joint crash sensors ensuring optimum use of the airbags in each specific situation.
Three-point seatbelts protect the occupants on all four seats, the front seats being equipped as standard with belt latch tensioners and belt force limiters.
A further standard safety feature is the pyrotechnic Safety Battery Terminal Clamp (SBC) on the starter battery at the rear, interrupting the flow of electric power between the starter or generator and the battery in a severe impact.
With this top model the MINI designers and engineers again succeeded in carrying forward into the 21st century the typical MINI looks and character of the legendary predecessor created by Sir Alec Issigonis and John Cooper.
At the same time, however, they were able to realize maximum safety, dynamics and customization without giving up the ingenious vehicle concept of a long wheelbase and ultra-short overhangs. With its distinct and muscular lines, the MINI Cooper S will thrill the beholder at first sight. Even at a standstill the MINI Cooper S seems to want to get going. The round headlights integrated into the curved bonnet, the radiator grille with body-color trim strips and the intake scoop in the front lid give the car its characteristic face.
Gert Hildebrand, in charge of MINI design, was also responsible for the design of the MINI Cooper S. He described the new model, "The MINI Cooper S clearly shows that it is a very special and emotional MINI. It boldly displays its charms and demonstrates that it is an exclusive, agile and powerful machine with that certain something. Its agility, dynamic performance and sporting elegance are borne out by many details giving the new model its very own character. The MINI Cooper S stands out, for example, through the "S" integrated into the logo that resembles a series of bends in the road and is proudly boasted on the car's side grille and incorporated in the rear MINI logo. It's a symbol for pure pleasure when driving and shows that the MINI Cooper S is virtually looking forward to winding roads on which it is a brilliant performer."
The head designer concluded, "We deliberately decided to do without non-functional but lurid effects, as functionality was given top priority, also on this model. The exclusive exterior look continues in the interior, which is dominated by high-quality materials, resulting in a MINI version that complies in every respect with the high standards expected of a top model, also in terms of appearance."
The S Difference
The MINI Cooper S clearly differs from the MINI One and the MINI Cooper not only in performance but also in styling: Functional modifications to the body allow the car's extra power reserves to be put to even more effective use.
The air intake scoop on the hood not only accentuates the car's athletic appearance, but also serves to provide the intercooler located between the supercharger and the engine with fresh air. The intercooler, which makes possible optimum and most effective use of the four-cylinder power unit, is concealed beneath the distinctive curvature of the bonnet that is 40mm higher than on the other MINI versions.
Seen from the side, the waistline of the MINI Cooper S, rising slightly towards the rear, creates a powerful profile clearly oriented towards performance.
The two chrome-plated side grilles with an integrated "S," the white direction indicators at the side and the chrome-plated fuel tank filler flap bear clear evidence of the attention to details paid when the car was developed.
By the way, it has never been possible to determine the original meaning of the "S" designation - as used for the first time on the original Mini Cooper S from the sixties. It is said, however, that Sir Alec Issigonis and his friend John Cooper disagreed over "Sport" or "Special." Although clarification is now no longer possible, one thing is for sure: The model designation "Cooper S" has long become a legendary name in automobile history.
Body-color front and rear bumpers specially designed for the MINI Cooper S with an integrated black honeycomb grille give this top model a very special and athletic touch. The grilles in the valance take up fresh air flowing into the engine compartment in order to eliminate excess heat. With its unique bumpers the MINI Cooper S has a body overhang that is almost 1.0 in. or 25mm longer than on the MINI Cooper at the front, and 3/16 in. or 4mm longer at the rear. The overall length of the vehicle is up by 1.14 in. or 29mm to 143.9 in. or 3655mm with the wheelbase remaining unchanged.
The top model is available in eight different exterior colors, two of which are exclusive to the MINI Cooper S: Electric Blue metallic and Dark Silver metallic. The other body colors are Black, Chili Red, Liquid Yellow, Pure Silver metallic, Indi Blue metallic and British Racing Green.
On the MINI Cooper S, the roof and the electrically operated exterior mirrors, which come as standard, are finished in white or black. On cars with the roof and the exterior mirrors in white, customers can choose to have the light-alloy wheels finished in white without having to pay an additional charge. As an option, the roof is also available in body color at no extra cost. With the roof in body color, the exterior mirrors always come in black.
As is the case with all MINI models, the MINI Cooper S is only available with two doors, opening up to an angle of 80 degrees, providing easy entry and exit to the front and rear seats. In an elegant style, the doors come with frameless windows and electric window lifts, unique in this class. When opening the doors, the windows automatically go down a few millimeters, then move up again when the doors are closed. This ensures optimum protection of the interior from noise and moisture.
The use of glass as a design and functional element also points in a new direction. The A-pillars are hidden behind a black plastic trim panel, the B- and C-pillars behind glass. This creates an elegant impression of glass extending around the entire passenger cell. This special effect is further accentuated by the use of tinted glass on all windows, helping to reduce light intensity inside the car and, accordingly, keeping temperatures relatively low. This also makes it unnecessary to have opening windows at the rear, a further advantage of the rear windows bonded firmly in position being the stiffer body structure.
From behind, the MINI Cooper S looks almost bullish. The short rear end, the steep side sections, the discreet roof spoiler and the black wheel-arch trims give the MINI Cooper S a compact and, at the same time, agile look.
The discreet spoiler on the upper edge of the rear lid was specially designed for this flagship model, increasing the downforce on the rear axle, thus improving directional stability and driving behavior particular at high speeds. The two chrome-plated tailpipes in the middle of the rear apron, the black honeycomb grille above as well as the "Cooper S" logo on the rear lid are a clear indication of the driving pleasure to be expected on board the MINI Cooper S.
The rear lid opens up to an angle of more than 90 degrees, enabling people over six feet tall to stand upright beneath the rear hatch when open. The electric hatch lock is opened by a button in the grab handle finished in body-color.
The rear window is electrically heated as standard and also comes with a rear window wiper, providing optimum visibility, particularly when the weather is bad. A windscreen with electric heating and rain sensor is available as an option. The MINI can furthermore be equipped with a panorama sunroof opening about 1.5 times the size of a conventional glass roof -a further feature unique in this class. The back part of the roof, which is finished in solid glass fixed in position, and sun visors integrated in this area help to provide additional comfort and a more generous feeling space.
Senior designer Gert Hildebrand commented on the top model's interior, "From the inside, the MINI Cooper S is just as unique and unmistakable as it is from the outside. The unique MINI design language is borne out by high-quality textiles, surfaces and leather, generating an overall impression that is most harmonious in terms of form and color. The interior of this automobile sets a new benchmark for small cars in design and flair and clearly stands out from the mass producers' products."
Opening the doors, the driver and passengers will immediately see the aluminum doorsill strips bearing the "MINI Cooper S" logo. When selecting the materials, top priority was given to good looks and a nice feel.
The design highlight within this top model is the speedometer in the middle of the instrument panel, a characteristic taken from the original Mini. The speedometer also comprises the fuel tank and coolant gauges, the service interval indicator as well as other functions such as the runflat indicator.
All displays come in silver surrounds; the electronic displays are finished in black. As soon as you switch on the headlights, the instruments and displays are illuminated in an orange color, offering excellent visibility under all conditions. To minimize reflections, the instruments come with non-reflecting glass.
The rev counter standard on the MINI Cooper S rests on the steering column, a position chosen by John Cooper in the sixties. If you order your MINI with an optional navigation system featuring a 16:9 color display, the speedometer moves up to the steering column, where it stands out as the second instrument next to the rev counter. The controls, which are convenient to operate, are clearly arranged near the driver and were designed in accordance with the interior looks.
The height-adjustable leather steering wheel, incorporating an integrated driver airbag, has a nice feel to it and offers superb handling, underlining the supreme driving experience. An option available in this area is a multifunction steering wheel for direct operation of the radio and the cruise control, enabling the driver to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel.
Storage spaces in the MINI Cooper S are abundant, but nevertheless customers have the possibility of ordering as an option a glove compartment for even more space to store the odds and ends of everyday life.
The glove compartment is equipped with a holder for glasses, a coin and a pen holder, as well as two additional cupholders to keep everything neat and tidy. If the MINI Cooper S is fitted with air conditioning, the illuminated glove compartment can be cooled whenever required (a function which may also be switched off via a button in the glove compartment).
The center console in aluminum look is just as distinctive as the instrument panel. Apart from the radio and the ergonomic controls for the heating and the blower, the console houses the switches or buttons for the heated rear window and, if fitted, for the air conditioning and windscreen heating. The automatic air conditioning, available as an option, requires different controls, a central control unit serving to set the temperature, airflow volume, the air flow itself and air circulation. An LED display in the control unit presents the temperature and blower level selected.
A trim strip with up to six toggle switches further down in the console is carried over from the original Mini. Designed as spring buttons, the switches automatically return to their original position after use. The toggle switches serve to operate the power windows and the front and the rear foglights.
On the center console between the driver and front passenger are further controls and storage spaces. The 12V power connection and two cupholders are arranged in front of the shift lever. On cars ordered with a smokers' package, one of the cupholders is replaced by an ashtray.
In the rear part of the center console are switches for the electric outside mirrors, switches for the optional seat heating and the reset button of the Runflat Indicator.
The design of the MINI's doors is also highly distinctive and contributes to the exclusive appearance. The frame around the armrests and the storage spaces inside the door in aluminum look match the center console and instrument panel.
The door trim, in Panther Black or Magnesium Grey, complements the surfaces and matching upholstery. The armrest comes as standard in black leather. The door openers and one of the two loudspeakers are fitted above the frame.
The covers and upholstery on the sports seats are exclusive to this model. To further accentuate the design of the seats, different materials are used for the seat upholstery, the headrests and the seat squabs. The standard cloth upholstery in anthracite/Panther Black is a perfect match for the interior surfaces in aluminum look. Moreover, a combination of cloth and leather in Panther Black, a cloth/leather combination in Lapis Blue/ Light Silver as well as different full leather upholstery designs are available as an option. As an option, all upholstery designs are available with the interior trim of the doors in Magnesium Grey.
The sport seats, which come as standard, feature integrated side airbags and offer superior side support. With the driver's seat and steering column both adjustable for height, and with the front seats adjustable over a wide range, persons of all sizes will find their perfect, relaxed seating position.
Height adjustment is standard on the driver's seat and optional for the front passenger. In the cloth/leather or all-leather package the front seats come as standard, with lumbar support and two-stage heating also available.
The MINI Cooper S is a fully-fledged four-seater that offers sufficient room for four adults. Doors that open wide provide easy access to the rear. By pressing down the backrest angle lever, the backrest is tilted, allowing the seat to be moved forward. Thanks to the memory function the seat can be returned to the same position as before immediately after the passengers sitting at the rear have got in. After that, the backrest folds back to its original angle. By actuating the backrest lever you can move the backrest to precisely the position required.
The ergonomic rear seats with armrests integrated in the side linings come with three-pivot seat belts and adjustable headrests. Ample room for head and shoulders provide a generous feeling of space. The backrests of the front seats are designed to provide generous space for the rear-seat passengers' feet.
The ISOFIX child seat system is available for the rear seats for customers with small children.
The rear-seat backrest is split 50:50 and folds forward almost horizontally. The arrest mechanism can be opened easily from the luggage compartment, special kinematic adjustment facilitating the process of folding down the two seat segments separately. The MINI Cooper S is able to carry a maximum load of 948 lb. Luggage compartment capacity is 150 liters extending to remarkable 670 liters with the rear seat bench tilted down-which means ample space even for a washing machine or up to eight crates of water.
State of the Art Electronics
This most powerful MINI houses state-of-the-art technology. Incorporating a databus system enhancing reliability, it requires far fewer wires, cables and connectors. Outstanding electric and electronic features contribute to an increase in comfort, safety and convenience.
Wayne McElfatrick, in charge of electronics within the MINI project team, commented on the top technology working in the background, "Such an elaborate electronic system as featured on the MINI Cooper S has never been seen before in this segment. Profiting from synergy effects, we are able to offer features to the customers otherwise found only on much more expensive cars. The list extends from xenon headlights, to the navigation system, to the interior mirror featuring an automatic anti-dazzle function."
The premium character of the MINI Cooper S is further accentuated by its electronic infrastructure, featuring data bus systems that dramatically reduce the required number of wires, cables and connectors by using the same wires and cables for different functions. The various tasks of the electronic system are shared among two primary units: The CAN bus system connects the engine management, brakes, transmission and the instruments; the K bus system is responsible for body electrics and electronics such as the interior lights, air conditioning, doors and windows.
Integration of these sub-systems and the mutual transmission of data from one system to the other offer many advantages over conventional electrical systems. One important point is the significant reduction of connections, which makes the system much more reliable. A further point is that the assembly process is much easier. Weight is also reduced, and it is easier to integrate additional functions such as the rain sensor.
The instrument panel houses the control unit, which is the core component of the on-board electronic system. The control unit communicates with the engine management system, central locking, immobilizer, alarm system and illumination. Moreover, it coordinates the exchange of data between the controllers. Data from the ASC+T anti-slip control are, for example, sent to the CAN bus, which transmits them to the motor management system.
The lights on the top model also feature state-of-the-art technology. The large elliptical halogen headlights incorporate an innovative reflector system that re-directs the light available, thus generating up to 25 percent more light intensity. A further feature is the "follow me home" function, which keeps the lights of the car on for 30 sec. after you've closed the door.
Xenon headlights with dynamic auto-leveling ensure an even greater deal of light efficiency and are also available as an option. Moreover, the list of options also includes foglamps and a headlight washing system.
Within its interior, the S also offers excellent lighting. A xenon light integrated in the middle of the roof lining lights up the interior, and the S also comes with footwell lights on both sides of the center console as well as illumination of the luggage compartment.Central locking comes with a remote control key for locking or opening the doors, the rear lid and the tank reliably from a distance of 15 meters. The interior is illuminated as soon as you unlock the door. A further standard feature is the electronic immobilizer, which can be activated from the key via a transponder.
An optional alarm system prevents thieves from entering the powerful MINI just as the immobilizer does. The system has its own power supply and is set off immediately upon entry into the car through the doors or windows. It also responds to any attempt at lifting up or pushing the car away. Once the alarm is activated, the S's warning flashers and the horn come on for 30 seconds. Should the driver not return to his vehicle until after this period, a flashing light signal will show him that the system has been activated.
The ICE system (In-Car Entertainment System) is tailored to the acoustic conditions and the space available. The basic audio system features six loudspeakers, four in the front doors and two in the side panels at the rear.
A Harman/Kardon HiFi system with eight specially designed loudspeakers and a digital amplifier is available as an option. The amplifier is fitted in the side panel at the rear, the integrated Digital Sound Processor enabling the driver to choose from different sound patterns for optimum audio quality for all seats.
Thanks to the wide range of individual components and systems, a complete sound system can be tailored to each individual customer with particular requirements. A CD changer for six CDs in combination with various radio types is also available and is fitted in the luggage compartment. And last but not least, a heatable windscreen is likewise available as an option.
Detlev Welters, in charge of product management, commented on the numerous possibilities of meeting the customers' demands: "The standard equipment of this flagship model in the MINI line-up is abundant, offering a great deal of comfort, safety and elegance. For us, however, it was also most important to offer our customers a host of customization possibilities, the list of options extending from the different body colors all the way to the rain sensors."
The MINI Cooper S's country of origin is Great Britain. From there this cosmopolitan car starts its journey to various countries all over the world.The MINI Cooper S is built exclusively at the MINI Plant in Oxford.
Dr. Herbert Diess, head of the MINI Plant in Oxford, said: "The biggest challenge we faced after the start of production in April 2001, when the series production of the MINI One and the MINI Cooper was taken up was to expand production within a very short period of time in order to meet the substantial demand, guaranteeing consistently a high level of premium quality at the same time. In two production shifts the Oxford Plant produces 500 vehicles a day."
Approximately 4,500 people are employed at the Oxford Plant of the BMW Group. What makes the Oxford plant stand out is the fact that it offers a myriad of equipment options.
Dr. Diess commented, "This high level of customization demands the utmost attention of our associates: No MINI is exactly alike the other, each vehicle is unique."
Some of the MINI Cooper S's details reveal only at second sight their very special production features. "The position of the starter battery at the rear of the car, for example, results in a special cable connection to the engine compartment," Dr. Diess disclosed. "The favorable weight distribution leading to excellent traction qualities does, however, justify the extra work involved. The roof color of the MINI Cooper and the MINI Cooper S contrasting with the body color also means extra work of course, but this is the feature that makes both models so unique."
Skilled workers combined with perfected processes and state-of-the-art facilities make possible the production of the MINI Cooper S. The Oxford Plant profits from the know-how and the synergy effects of the BMW Group as a whole, featuring a world-wide network of production and development. As part of this network, the Oxford Plant operates according to the same stringent principles of production and quality standards as all the other plants belonging to the network do. The principle of sustained production in the sense of a sensible and careful use of resources such as energy, water and materials is an integral part of the plants' philosophy.
The MINI models feature the most rigid bodies in their class, with body stiffness two to three times greater than on comparable models. The body-in-white is produced in a fully automated production process and is made of high-strength steel. The torsional stiffness of the bodyshell contributes to the MINI's unique and sophisticated performance on the road and ensures excellent handling. A total of 229 industrial robots are used for the mostly fully automated production of the 12 body variants of the various MINI models. Spot-welding is done, for example, in a 100-percent-automated process. The MINI has a self-supporting, shell-construction steel body. First of all, the front and rear sections and the floorpan are joined to form the understructure to which the side structures are added, followed by the roof, the doors and the hood. The laser-welded pressure-shaped steel parts are made of raw material of different thicknesses, thus creating high-stability zones, enabling, for example, the distribution of intruding forces to specific parts of the body.
In the paint shop in Oxford, the exterior paint is applied in a multistage process incorporating the application of protective coatings and water-based varnishes. After the bodyshell has been cleaned, which is the first step in the process, the body is coated with zinc phosphate, employing a dipping method whereby the entire body is dipped into a tank. The application of a second functional layer, which is a coat of paint applied by means of cathodic electrode-position, constitutes the basis for permanent protection against corrosion. After that, the body is coated with a so-called surfacer primer, this process followed by the application of the color top coat. Prior to the application of the top coat, each body is cleaned again by a mechanical "duster" made of ostrich feathers. Finally, the body is coated with a two-component clear coat, which is a long-term protection against adverse environmental influences and which gives the MINI its shine.
In all these processes top priority is given to the use of technologies and materials that are environmentally friendly. Thus, for example, heat recovery plants and the use of water-based varnishes ensure an efficient use of energy as well as materials compatible with the environment.
Dependent on the equipment selected by each individual customer, up to 2,415 different parts and pre-assembled components are fitted on the final assembly line. State-of-the-art facilities, such as swivelling overhead suspension arms, make it possible to lift up and lower the MINI Cooper S by a few inches and to turn it by 90 - which is ideal from an ergonomic point of view. The extensive use of low-noise precision power tools further contribute to optimum working conditions. A further advantage of these power tools is the fact that they are connected to a control system that is an in-house development and monitors the correct function of the tools via a control unit integrated into the individual tools.
The most distinctive feature of the MINI's interior is the cockpit with the instrument panel. Being one of the most complex pre-assembled modules to be found in the automobile industry, the cockpit module made up of the instrument panel, steering wheel, steering column, instrument cluster, heating, switches, control stalk and wire harness is fitted as one part. The car's windscreen, rear window and side windows are bonded to the vehicle at an all-automatic station. The so-called "marriage," that is, the process whereby the drivetrain and the body are put together, takes place within a wide assembly area. At this stage the car is fitted with the engine requested by the respective customer. The clutch, the transmission as well as the rear and the front suspension are prepared for assembly in various pre-assembly areas.