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2002 Mini Cooper S review
OWNER RATING 9 /10
  • Timeless retro styling; Go kart handling; Premium build quality; Loveability; Small size great for parking and zipping around!
  • BMW maintenance costs; Airbag light bug-bear; Only four seats and a breadbox sized boot can be limiting...
PRICE N/A
ANCAP RATING N/A

by James Hickey

I knew it was love when I laid eyes on ‘Rori’ in Barwon Heads on a summer day in 2010.

I’ve had a penchant for Minis since attending a dealer launch in 2001. Rori was in the quintessential spec that matched the poster on my bedroom wall. And Indy Blue Cooper with Chilli pack, with white roof, mirror caps and wheels. A supercharged Cooper S would have been great, but the added cost and complexity made the Cooper a safer bet.

Rori’s first owner had become so old that she needed an electric scooter to get around in, so I got her with barely 50,000km on the clock! After adding on some white bonnet stripes our relationship had begun.

The mini Cooper is a great example of retro styling done right. Rori hasn’t aged a day in the styling department. When I would tell people she was born in 2002, they’d exclaim “Really? I thought it was only a few years old!”

Go-kart DNA was infused in the low-slung body, short overhangs and upright windscreen. Inside was a snug fit for four people, but with fun quirks such as the centrally mounted tacho, and toggle switches for electric windows/door locks, the Mini was always a funky place to be.

Steering, gearshift and suspension were all meaty and firm, adding to the sporty flavour. This is the type of car that makes you look forward to corners.

My favourite trick was seeing how much speed I could carry through a sweeping S-bend on my way to work each day. The body would stay flat and composed while flying past the less athletic vehicles, the whole time evoking a huge smile on my face.

The naturally aspirated 85kW engine was never going to win any traffic light drag races, but with weight at only 1100kg, you were never left behind in the dust.

While never breaking down during our relationship, maintenance of this premium hatchback was, at times, a little eye-watering. There was one particular airbag light that would come on when a rear passenger pushed the front seat forward too quickly. After two different mechanics investigated and replaced different parts, the issue was resolved by lengthening one of the wires under the front seat.

Servicing and tyres were also expensive, but perhaps to be expected from a brand owned by BMW.

On the plus side when I finally had to say goodbye and sell her recently, it turns out I only lost 50 per cent of her value in six-and-a-half years. #winning

Owning a Mini was a rewarding experience, and really only makes you more passionate about the brand. Search the brand on Instagram and you’ll see the thousands of people posting shots of the car across the globe each day.

So, if you’re looking for a cheap run-around car, a Mini probably isn’t for you. Pick a Corolla. Die bored and uninspired. However, if you’re looking for a car that makes your heart smile while flying around an S-bend then, a Mini Cooper is highly recommended!



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2002 Mini Cooper S review Review
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