Peter Egan – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Earlier today I was behind the wheel of a well cared for and well specced 2006 R53 Cooper S. I was blown away. It wasn’t perfect. And the F56 JCW I was driving before and after it destroyed it in every measurable way. But by God it was alive.
That drive reminded us of an old column the esteemed Peter Eagan wrote in a 2003 edition of Road and Track about the same car and about the same reaction.
Mike let me drive over the back hills of Wisconsin for more than an hour, and I liked the almost limitless grip of the Mini in switchbacks, and its easy, quick steering. As a great fan of the old Cooper S of the 1960s, I found the whole car a little more rubbery and detached in its steering and suspension feel than the mechanically taut original, but I guess that was to be expected. There is almost no car on earth as fun, direct, light and communicative as the original Mini, so it was a hard act to follow in a car that has airbags, crashworthiness and all the other modern baggage. Given those compromises, the new Mini is probably about as good as it can be.
We won’t ruin the rest of the article but suffice to say Peter ends up with more than just a passing affection for the MINI. Likewise our drive today gave us a renewed love for the “new” MINI that started it all.