When the New Original MINI was launched,
the boss of MINI said that the “New MINI handles like a go kart. It is a
go-kart for the road.” So we set up a challenge and tried to find out if it was
true. Does a regular car with super rich features have the knack to kick some
speed in some very tight corners? Forget, for a moment, that you have ever
watched the English movie “The Italian Job”, and forget everything the car did
in that heist movie.
We at Motown India have always refrained
from doing any kind of comparison car road tests. Because we always felt that
just like any parent shouldn’t compare their child with another because
everyone is an individual, it’s the same story with cars. But when MINI told us
that the New Original MINI drives like a go-kart, we decided to put it to the
test to see what they were talking about.
Let me give you a small history lesson. In
the 60’s small cars were all the rage. Some of the greatest of the lot from
Europe were the Fiat 500 from Italy, the Volkswagen Beetle from Germany, the
Citroen 2CV from France and the MINI from British Leyland of Great Britain. The
original MINI was actually called a MINI because it was a miniature car and it
could fit a fully grown adult and more. To drive it was a peach as well.
Because of its tiny little size and tiny wheelbase, the MINI actually won the
fearsome Monte Carlo Rally three times and because of these characteristics
people often said that it handled like a go-kart.
Since the MINI is being made by the Germans
from BMW, they say the new one also handles just like it. But the recipe for
the new one is nothing like the original at all. In fact it’s firstly not
really a mini in size, nor is it cheap like the original was. It is built
better with German obsession with quality which the original lacked being built
in the British midlands, and the entire original car can sit quite comfortably
within the wheelbase of the new one. So it really shouldn’t behave like a
go-kart, or should it?
The folks at Wonder Speedway in Noida
Sector 18 were kind enough to give us their entire and brilliant go-karting
facility to us for this test our team had set up. Because MINI says that it is
a “Go-Kart for the Road” it must be worthy of being a go-kart in the first
place. We decided to not compare it to a rival but a real go-kart itself.
Pre-requisitely we knew that the MINI will
obviously be quicker on the straight. It was a given fact. But could the
massive girth of the entire car be able to match the agility of the go kart in
the corners? That was the question we all were dying to know.
The challenge was set as one single driver
had 10 mins of practice laps and 4 laps with a rolling start had to set the
fastest time possible in the kart. Then the MINI had to match the same time
with the same time duration of practice laps and 4 hot laps.
THE GO-KART & THE MINI
The Go-Kart is a standard racing kart,
fitted with a Honda GX 200 engine and produces 5.5bhp. This doesn’t sound much
but it only weighs as much as a sack of potatoes and can be lifted in the air
by just two people. So it’s light, and light is good for racing. Mechanically
it has a solid differential at the back, connected to the rear wheels directly.
At the front is a steering wheel connected to the front wheels so no suspension
at all. In the middle is plastic seat which seemed more comfortable to sit in
with no padding than most luxury cars with leather seats. Right at the front
are two pedals for throttle and brake on the right and left respectively
connected by bicycle cables and that’s it.
Being this light, the Go-Kart is
blisteringly fast, taking really hard corners at full throttle. It just finds its grip from somewhere on the
track. Feeling comfortable we were ready
for the timed hot laps, I got into the kart and I just floored it. I could feel
that with every lap, the kart was just getting quicker and quicker. It was
going to make it harder for the MINI, the quickest lap time in the kart was
Then it was the turn of the MINI. Because
of its size, some of the tight turns like turn 3, 4 and 5 had to be taken wider
than one would in the Go-Kart which led to loss of time. The MINI Copper D is
also the fastest accelerating Mini out there with a 0-100kmph time on 9.2
seconds. We knew the MINI was going much faster and was able to get to 85kmph
on the straight which was probably quicker than the kart. But in the corners,
could it go faster still?
A series of tight manoeuvring and full
throttle straights, we had accomplished with the MINI what we had with the
Go-Kart. Some would argue that the MINI won because of its straight line speed,
but trust me on this, I have had hours and hours of experience in that very
same Go-Kart and the MINI is the closest thing that comes to cornering to it.
On the hottest lap which the Mini clocked the 42.63, braking early into the
first corner resulted into massive oversteer, the only way the MINI could make
up time was in the corners and it did it perfectly. It felt so much at home on
the tiny little track with barely enough room to do a 3 point turn, in a car
that weighs 1280kgs and sets a time faster than something that weighs less than
a fraction of it.
Mini Cooper D
Lap Times (seconds)
Maybe it proved its point on the Go-Kart
track, but in real world, the MINI is meant to lead a life on roads,
transporting people in comfort and speed. The car interior looks gorgeous with
all the lighting the lay out and all the gadgets that look like are taken
directly from the Starship Enterprise, but some tit bits like the gear lever is
just so long and the sequential gearbox is the opposite way around. So when you
want to shift up you push down and if you want to shift down you push up which
needs some getting used to. The rear seats don’t have much leg room. But the
only major drawback is the price. It’s just too expensive when you look at the
whole picture--31.8 lakh for the standard car and if you want your MINI fully
kitted out, you’re looking spending around 40 lakh on just the car before taxes
and registrations. But does any of that matter? No! Not one bit. Some things in
life are precious and they are invaluable too. The MINI is one car that is
definitely premium and you feel super cool driving one. Moreover, it doesn’t
drive as good as a Go-Kart, its better!
MINI Cooper D Technical Specifications
1.5 litre 3
cylinder TwinTurbo Diesel
Rs.31,85,000/- (ex-showroom Delhi)
Go Kart Technical Specifications
Honda GX200D 4-stroke
overhead valve single cylinder
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