First drive: MINI Coupe
Sep 26th 2011 9:45AM
With MINI sales seeming to buck market trends and showing an increase of 14% year on year, it's time for the fastest growing premium brand to launch its fifth model - the Coupe.
On sale from 1 October, the new two-seater already accounts for 3% of this year's sales. That's quite impressive, as buyers won't even have had the chance to drive the MINI Coupe yet.
So to see what buyers are letting themselves in for, I headed to Austria for the UK launch of the MINI Coupe and the chance to drive one back to the UK, a trip of almost 750 miles.
On the outside, the Coupe is like a MINI hatch, but not as I remember it. Built on a 5mm longer, modified and more rigid convertible chassis, it's stayed remarkably true to the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show Concept.
The most striking change over the standard hatch has to be the lower roof, it almost looks like a baseball cap that's being worn backwards.
The other most obvious change over a standard MINI hatch are the windscreen and A-pillars which are more steeply raked by 13-degrees.
The first modern MINI to adopt the traditional 'three-box' body structure, (splitting the car into distinct segments – the engine compartment, cabin and boot) is also the first to be fitted with an active rear spoiler.
Rising at 50mph, it drops again at 37mph and along with the integrated rear roof spoiler it's designed to add up to 40kg of downforce to the rear axle, thus improving stability and handling.