60 years young: Driving the F55 Mini Cooper S 5 Door 60 Years Edition

2019 was a rather memorable automotive year for me, having finally brought home a BMW 2002 after yearning for one for decades, it was also a year which brought me closer to the Mini marque thanks to the kind folks at BMW Asia and Mini Habitat Singapore. Sending me across the World to visit the International Mini Meet in Bristol UK to celebrate 60 years of this storied brand, giving me the chance to drive a classic Mini for the very first time in my life and letting me have the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people along the way.

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So with the year coming to a close, it seems fitting to end it with with a drive in one of these, the Mini Cooper S 60th Anniversary Edition. Crafted to celebrate 60 years of the marque, the 60 Years Edition is a special limited edition that retains the modern cars’ technical and handling competence and at the same time, pays homage to its past with interesting design touches and lovely aesthetic details adorning its compact body.

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While you can order a 60 Year Edition in Melting Silver, Midnight Black or Lapisluxury Blue, the only colour we can recommend is the same British Racing Green IV that is featured on our test car. A beautiful new hue specially curated for the 60 Year cars.

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Available in only 2 body styles, 3-door or 5-door hatchbacks, the 60 Year Edition Minis also wear their bespoke 60 Year insignias with pride on their bonnet stripes, their side scuttles, their front door sills, on the steering wheel and most for dramatic effect, projected onto the floor from the side mirrors.

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These special anniversary Minis also wear a set of lovely 17-inch wheels again specially made for this limited run of cars. Finishing in two-tone dark spectre grey with burnished spokes, these set of wheels feature a stripes motif that takes reference from the 60 Year insignia. A running design theme that we will see carried on into the interior of the car.

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Which brings us inside the cabin where the steering wheel presents itself, hand-stitched in Nappa leather and featuring the aforementioned 60 Years insignia, this steering wheel feels good once on the move, deliciously smooth and soft to touch, that unique nappy texture compliments a full set of buttons toggling audio and cruise control functions. Across the dash, the stripes design motif continues into a pinstripe aesthetic that runs across the fascia in British Racing Green and Dark Silver set it apart from its “normal” edition siblings. The current set of Mini switchgear and iDrive controls are the same as before and while the 6.5 inch Mini infotainment (iDrive) system might feel a little bit dated today with giant screens now being plastered onto new cars, having a dashboard adorned with buttons and physical toggle switches is something that I’m happy to retain. Build quality is unabashedly German although some hard plastics are still being used.

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Rounding off the special 60 Year Edition design touches are the seats, featuring lovely threaded green piping and white stitching on chocolate leather (Mini calls it dark maroon but it looks totally brown to me) and once again the 60 Years insignia is featured here, now stamped into a leather badge along the outer edges.

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With 2 trim levels available for each body style, Cooper and Cooper S, for our test car, it came with the much more engaging Turbo-charged 2 litre power plant. Remaining unchanged from the Cooper S cars on which they were based, these little pockets of joy push out 189bhp and 280Nm of torque, numbers which might not look big on paper but in real life, produce plenty of smiles and moments of delight from the way they deliver their juice.

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If cars were judged solely based on how they made you feel, then the cars from Mini would be pretty much sitting at the very top of the class. From the way they steer to their easy adjustability near cornering limits even under power, there is never a dull moment when one is behind the wheel of a Mini with its engine fizzing in its powerband. 0-100 comes up with a respectable 6.8 seconds and with Sport mode engaged, each change up under hard throttle is accompanied with a rather satisfying “brap” and lifting off the throttle abruptly allows the exhaust to crackle and pop in delight. It’s quite a good laugh.

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Unfortunately, the world we live in (or rather, the country) requires us to factor in other aspects of motoring, the bits where the only numbers we have to look at are number of passengers and number of shopping bags. So, going off the fizz, our Cooper S’ 2-litre unit has a wide enough powerband to make it a rather decent cruiser with local highway speeds running just above idling engine speeds.

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For those looking for a soft and pliant ride, look elsewhere. While the chassis can soak up most road imperfections and avoids going into the territory of “harsh”, there is no running away from the fact that these Minis are tuned to for those who put driving pleasure ahead of everything else that comes in life. Those extra 2-doors in the rear? Those are for training future driving connoisseurs and for those convincing their significant others that this can be a “family car”.

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That said, how good this car is cannot really be quantified in plain terms and boils down to one’s personality. Of course the same can be said for most cars but for Minis, this is especially true. If you “Get it”, you will love it. If you don’t, trying to convince you otherwise will be a difficult task. If you are not sure if you “Get it” or not, go take a test drive, because if you are reading a car review, chances are it will rekindle an emotion for driving because just like how Mini have shown, you can have a youthful heart even if you are 60 years young.

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Big thanks again to the kind folks over at Mini Habitat Singapore for arranging this drive.

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